New Project

Hillandale Food Hub

A Micro-local Aggregator, Marketer, and Distributor of Locally and Organically Grown Farm Product

The Hillandale Food Hub is a consortium of partner farms cooperating to provide the highest quality organically-grown meats and produce to residents, speciality markets and hospitality businesses in the greater Westerly, Eastern CT, and Block Island area.

It is by design that most of the food handled by the Hub originates within 30 miles (South County, RI and New London County, CT) of its base of operations in Westerly, RI and is distributed inside a 15 mile radius of same. 

Partner farms and producers also support the Ayers Foundation through their respective expertise and knowledge by supporting educational programs that benefit upwards of 750 students per year through experiential and service-based learning.

Phase I of the Hillandale Food Hub continues to demonstrate its success and is on track to aggregate approximately 50,000 lb. of whole food product in 2017. Phase II is underway, the Hobart B Ayers Meeting House, which will provide processing and storage space, function as our on-site retail outlet, and memorialize Hobart's life work as a mechanical engineer and dairyman. Some history on agriculture in South County will also be featured. Phase III is under development and will entail a commercial farm kitchen and wood-fired bakery contributing voluminous value-added products to our bourgeoning, yet mostly local, supply chain.

Our partner Farms meet the highest standards in terms of food quality, freshness, land stewardship, and general care for what they raise and the communities they serve. Collectively, we transcend the contemporary understanding of organic agriculture to a holistic set of beliefs and practices that are centuries old, and needless to say, time-tested.

While the AYERS Foundation derives some of its revenues from this business today, it is anticipated that its financial autonomy will only increase with time due to the stake and role it will take and play in the evolution of the Hillandale Food Hub and food entrepreneurship.

 

Project started in winter, 2014

Plant Breeding for a Small Scale, Sustainable, Distributive Food Production System

Ayers has secured an agreement with Enza Zaden, a premier global plant breeding concern that places emphasis on regional and organic markets. 

Goals are to improve an existing, superior-tasting, Dutch hybrid tomato, whose genetic plant traits make it particularly susceptible to foliar fungal diseases.

AYERS Foundation and its affiliated farms will trial the first generation of a targeted F1 tomato hybrid in order to provide essential feedback for ultimately producing the ideal tomato, one that has its traditional flavor, character, and locular structure preserved without sacrificing disease resistance.

A similar agreement is being sought with another Dutch firm, VOLOAGRI. And, in fact, some new tomato plant cultivars have already been secured and will be tested in 2015.

The importance of this work cannot be overstated. Revitalizing agrarian economies around the globe will stem from the attraction of fresh & healthy, great-tasting fruits, vegetables, and grains; the likes of which arouse humans' innate desire for wholesome, nutrient dense foods that are a pleasure to eat!

 

 

Project started in winter, 2014

Community Supported Agroforestry-based Learning (CSAL)

“The Power of Networking”

On the premise of improving social order, economic justice, and democratic governance in the world, a new international network of educators is now forming called the CSAL Network, where CSAL is an acronym for Community Supported Agroforestry-based Learning.  The CSAL Network is envisaged as a virtual organization of individuals whose interests and expertise can contribute to the mission of Community Supported Agroforestry-based Learning: scientists, educators,  agriculturalists, economists, mentors of youth, and others who wish to create opportunities for research, study, entrepreneurship, and lifetime careers in the interlocking disciplines of agroforestry.   

Agroforestry is a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels. Ayers Foundation (Ayers) believes that many students and teachers with ambitions to lead social change will be choosing this study area as fundamental to surmounting the major plights of our planet, namely the interconnected problems of food, energy, water, and climate change, in addition to jobs and income.  

By building a global virtual organization of experts in the areas of business, forestry, agriculture, engineering, agro-ecology, marketing, permaculture, and other fields, Ayers envisages a growing capacity to improve community wellness at the most local level through education and applied science.

Participating graduates of schools affiliated with the CSAL Program (“CSAL Affiliated Schools”) will develop their persona, character, and careers through charitable and commercial endeavors working together symbiotically. The founders of the CSAL Network believe that leading schools worldwide will be the natural agents for meeting planetary challenges due to their heritage, access to natural resources, and their proven track records for establishing the intellectual and moral capital for students to succeed both as professionals and global citizens. The CSAL Program lays the social groundwork, provides the technical & business assistance, and serves as a conduit and medium to secure the necessary capital for CSAL Affiliated Schools to become an instrumental part of solving major international predicaments. Along the way, scholarly institutions at all levels will add threads to their educational fabric, building their capacity to create tomorrow’s leaders of transformative change. 

Ayers envisions that CSAL Affiliated Schools will become educators and investors in participatory development of agroforestry ecosystems. CSAL Affiliated Schools may own (or have donated as easements or outright gifts) land suitable for this purpose.  Beyond their instructional purposes, these ecosystems may nurture and grow for-profit companies founded by alumni and their associates.  Some of these working, educational farms or farm-school systems may become share-issuing corporations in which these Schools invest; they may also co-invest with other private equity providers that share their purposes, including Community Investment Trusts, described in this PowerPoint show [insert link]. 

In this way, CSAL Affiliated Schools may integrate their core education function with socially responsible business development, earning sustained income to supplement traditional giving by their alumni. Moreover, CSAL’s power of networking and the value of pooled resources and collaborators will be a magnet for charitable giving.  At the least, CSAL Affiliated Schools will add significant value to their educational offerings while decreasing their carbon footprint and increasing the amount of farm-fresh food with which they nourish their students. 

Ayers was conceived to play its part in making an historic Southern Rhode Island Dairy a working educational farm. The owners fervently believe that if we are to restore our agrarian economies; replenish our soils; increase the frequency and volume of locally grown foods; and do a generally better job at nurturing our youth, then we must have a road map to make these common interests happen. Ayers sees the working educational model as essential to transforming the world’s ill-conceived food production system on the basis of the fundamental principle of teaching by example. Taking into account looming energy shortages; the perils of climate change; and other salient natural resource concerns, the Founder, Maxson Hence, who is a consulting forester, espouses the practice of agroforestry and its integration into the working educational model. With his passion and over twenty years of professional experience, Max has made himself available to lead this initiative as founding manager serving the CSAL Network. 

Please use the following links for more detailed information on a CSAL program for the Westerly, RI area:

Brief for a Business Plan for a Westerly CSAL Program

Westerly CSAL Presentation

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Project started in spring, 2013

Dedicated Farm-to-School Program in Westerly, RI 

(May, 2013) AYERS FARM-TO-SCHOOL SET TO PRODUCE NEARLY 15000 POUNDS OF PRODUCE OVER THREE YEARS FOR AREA SCHOOL CAFETERIAS. HELP US SET THE PRECEDENT AND DE FACTO STANDARD FOR COMMUNITY RESILIENCE AND WELLNESS WHEREVER EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS EXIST.

As of late 2013, AYERS Foundation is collaborating with the Westerly Land Trust to identify and allocate arable land for expansion of farm-to-school program. This kind of cooperation is a hallmark to community supported agriculture and the revitalization of agriculture in the state. If we as a township, state, and land are to reduce our addiction to the centralized industrial food production system, then we must begin with educating our youth by doing and sharing - it's that simple.

Farm-to-school is a concept designed around getting more locally grown food into school cafeterias while helping teach kids the benefits of growing and consuming farm-fresh food within the same community. In doing so, these programs can educate and inspire future consumers and producers.

Coupled with production, AYERS has successfully launched a food and nutrition lecture series that will eventually impact every school in the district. This program has garnered the support of the Westerly Schools' Health Department and will work in conjunction with nurses and other health and nutrition teachers to broaden students' understanding of health and wellness.

Nestled right on the shore of Quonochontaug Pond in South County, RI, we at Hillandale and AYERS are excited about forward progress, particularly due to its implications around small scale, "organic" farming in South County, the ecosystem services (e.g. protection of the pond) deliverable through sustainable agricultural practices, and the opportunity to inspire our youth to help proliferate farm-fresh food that's both good for the environment and the community.

Thanks to the Lewis Foundation, the Northeast Grassroots Environmental Fund, and over 100 individuals who include friends; family members; customers; and members of our community, we raised in excess of 14,000 dollars to secure the equipment and working capital to launch this venture.  

Helping ensure the success of this program and those to follow cannot be achieved without your participation - DONATE NOW - the wealth of a nation rests on the health of its children!

Please email any questions or concerns to ayersfoundation@gmail.com

 

AYERSfoundation  |  6 Haversham Road|  Westerly, RI 02891|  (401) 322-1055