About Virginia Kasinki
Virginia is the Program Director for NUFFI, overseeing organizational development and community outreach. Since 2015, she was the Outreach Coordinator for the Downing Park Urban Farm. Virginia was the former Director of Community-Based Programs at Glynwood and was responsible for Glynwood’s Keep Farming Program which is designed to help communities identify the many ways in which agriculture contributes to their wellbeing. She has extensive experience with planning community-based programs and in training and coaching local leaders. She is also an experienced meeting organizer and facilitator. Virginia is a Newburgh native.
About Liana Hoodes
Liana is a Program Manager to NUFFI, coordinating programs and outreach. In 2017, she served as the program coordinator at the Downing Park Urban Farm. She has worked since 1994 on a wide range of organic/sustainable agriculture policy issues, and is currently the Policy Advisor to NOFA-NY. Liana was the Executive Director of the National Organic Coalition, working extensively on federal organic and sustainable agriculture policy. She currently works on federal and state policy issues to advance organic food and agriculture. Liana provides technical assistance on urban gardening and food projects in Newburgh.
Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) –The Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative (NUFFI) is an active network of local residents and community organizations that fosters community and residential gardens, the production and distribution of food for the City of Newburgh and educates Newburgh residents about the vibrant connections of land, food and community. NUFFI provides Outreach, Public Education and Technical Assistance. NUFFI believes that existing communities working together to retain ‘ownership’ of their neighborhoods and culture will develop innovative solutions that accomplish the important goal of empowering residents to work toward a just and resilient food system for the City of Newburgh.
NUFFI’s focus continues to effect positive change through garden development and public outreach. In addition, the organization continues to develop, increase, and enhance partnerships with leaders throughout a variety of sectors within the community.
NUFFI’s Website: https://www.newburghurbanfarmandfood.org/
About the Episode:
This episode features Virginia Kasinki and Liana Hoodes from the Newburgh Urban Farm and Food Initiative, also known as NUFFI.
Newburgh, like nearby Poughkeepsie, has a reputation for violence, poverty, and simply being dangerous. When I spoke to a representative from the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory project, which is part of the Hudson River Housing organization, I learned about some initiatives that are going on there to help shift the city.
When I moved here to Newburgh last year, people thought I was crazy – and many still think I am. Don’t get me wrong, by no means is this a perfect city, but first of all, are there any perfect cities? Are there problems? Yes. But, there are also dedicated people working on interesting projects and initiatives, and passionate business owners and community members looking to improve the city.
I first learned about NUFFI around two years ago, and was so excited to see that Newburgh has an urban farm program. Many consider Newburgh to be a food desert, since it is not always straightforward to access fresh produce and quality foods within the city, especially with the levels of poverty faced here.
In this episode, Virginia and Liana share the vision for this project and organization and how they see it fitting into and helping bring Newburgh’s diverse populations together.
I hope you enjoy this conversation.