Capacity Building

New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group

The New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NYSAWG) fosters and promotes sustainable agriculture practices and sustainable local food systems. Our goal is to ensure equitable, affordable access to fresh, nutritious foods for all people at all times in New York State. The NYSAWG mission is to contribute to the building of local food systems that bring healthy local food to local consumers every day of every week and thereby realize food justice, economic justice, environmental justice and social justice. Our mission has value and meaning for low-income communities and communities of color—in urban and rural settings—that lack both access to fresh healthy food and access to the resources needed to build self-reliance.

NYSAWG envisions economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially just community-based food systems that provide community food security for all New Yorkers, regardless of income level. Community food security means that all people at all times should have access to affordable, nutritious, culturally appropriate food from local non-emergency sources.

Low-income neighborhoods in particular lack access to fresh, local food and suffer most from the economic and health disparities with lack of food access. Both inner city neighborhood residents and rural residents now incur considerable expense to purchase simple, basic food for their families to consume at home.

Yet virtually every region within New York State and throughout the United States has the capacity to produce basic food products. Ironically, small family farms—those most threatened by the dominance of the industrial food system—can produce the diversity of vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy products, and livestock using low-input sustainable production practices that people need for the healthiest diet. These small farmers can serve local markets in local neighborhoods and villages near their farms with good, clean, healthy, whole food. Creating these local markets will meet the “triple bottom line” benchmark of social entrepreneurship: Economic benefit, environmental benefit and social benefit.

NYSAWG takes on the enormous challenges involved in building the trading linkages and networks that make the production and exchange of local food both possible and profitable for all trading partners and the people they serve. We provide training for farmers to serve local markets. We work with small-scale food processors to ensure all year around a steady supply of preserved fruits and vegetables from the abundant harvest. We manage an innovative marketing campaign for local food, the nationally recognized Buy Fresh, Buy Local campaign. We recruit new farmers. We work to preserve precious farmland threatened by development pressure. And we work with national partners to develop practice-driven policy at the local, state and federal levels to serve the needs of local farmers, food producers and consumers. With these inputs from NYSAWG, local food systems can grow, prosper and nourish the economic, environmental and social health of our communities.

C-PREP provides management services for the New York Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
Monroe Community College asked C-PREP to evaluate the effectiveness of their Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program