By Andy Pressman, NCAT Northeast Regional Director
You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
As I reflect on the year, it is hard not to think about the drought, then weeks of non-stop rain, followed by the militia of squirrels that attacked the fall crops in the field, and the many other challenges farmers in the Northeast faced. Throughout the growing season, my wife found comfort in reminding me that “it’s a long row to hoe” as we chaotically worked to save what winter squash we could before the squirrels could take another bite. Yet underneath the flannel layers, the farmers I meet are feeling optimistic about the upcoming season and making changes in order to continue building a food system that supports our local communities and preserves our rural heritage.
The work of NCAT also embraces change, always with the end goal of having a positive impact on communities, particularly socially-disadvantaged and low-income communities. NCAT specialists in the Northeast engaged in project work, in 2018, to do just that. A few highlights from NCAT’s Northeast Regional Office include:
- Conducting Armed to Farm trainings for military veterans in New Hampshire and Maryland
- Providing technical assistance to farmers through NCAT’s ATTRA Program
- Developing a manual for sustainable fisheries
- Working to increase farm sales through intermediated markets
NCAT is also working on change at the organizational level. The end of the year celebrates the accomplishments of NCAT under the leadership of Kathy Hadley who served as NCAT’s Executive Director for over two decades. We are excited to continue our work in building a new community-scale model, one that is rooted in regenerative agricultural practices, support for local food, and energy alternatives, with the guidance of NCAT’s new Executive Director, Steve Thompson.
NCAT Northeast staff looks forward to continuing all of our great work in 2019. We have several new Armed to Farm trainings planned, including ones in Vermont, New York, and Ohio. ATTRA specialists in the Northeast are already planning on developing new resources for farmers, including technical publications, videos, and podcasts. Additionally, we are excited to work on several new projects that include field days on small farm equipment, tractor maintenance, and no-till vegetable production.
As we embrace all of the great work in store for us in the New Year, we are excited to continue to work with our farmer friends in the Northeast and all of the great technical service providers, educators, and organizations with whom we have collaborated. We also look forward to meeting new folks and building relationships in order to deepen our impact in helping our local communities.
Thank you for all that you have done to support the work of NCAT and I look forward to your continued support to help us in creating this new model.
Best wishes for each of you and your families,
NCAT Northeast Regional Director