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A Bees In Our Trees Workshop

Urban-dwellers have significantly different lifestyles than their country cousins. A fun and insightful workshop dubbed “Bees in our Trees” will demonstrate exactly how this is true for the bees of the world, and how trees can be used to help city-bees thrive. Kass Urban-Mead, a PhD student in Cornell University’s Entomology Department, will lead the workshop at the Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory on July 20th from 4 pm – 6 pm, hosted by the Environmental Cooperative and funded in part by a grant from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. It is free and open to the public. Among the items under discussion: There are 416 bee species living in New York state, with honey bees  only one of those species. Some of the species of bees that thrive in urban areas are different than those in more rural areas, taking advantage of unexpected nooks and crannies. The workshop will identify resource-rich trees and shrubs used in hedges or as street trees. See you there!

Learning Old Traditions In Music & Dance

What’s better in summer than acoustic music and square dancing in the woods? Talk about a deep Catskills’ tradition… beautifully carried forward by Jay Ungar and Molly Mason’s ongoing Ashokan Music & Dance Camps at the wondrous Ashokan Center they’ve built up on a former SUNY field campus of new and historic buildings up in the scenic mountain town of Olive. Amongst the fun this month will be an coustic Guitar Camp July 10–14, a Northern Week celebration of New England, Québécois, English, Scandi, and French music and dance July 16–22,  and even more in August, including a Family Camp from August 7–11 complete with music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, nature, crafts, and pure play for all ages, and a Southern Week exploration of Appalachian, old-time, Cajun, and Zydeco music and dancing August 13–19. It all includes on-site lodging, meals, but also public events for those not willing to commit a full weekend. Visit www.ashokancenter.org for more info.

Learning Social Skills With Horses’ Help

Hudson Valley HorsePlay in Kerhonkson works with kids and horses, emphasizing eye contact, greetings, making requests, expressing feelings, observing body language, turn-taking in conversation and teamwork between person and animal to build confidence and personal skills among groups for ages 7 – 12 and 13 – 17 in hour-long and longer sessions. “Often times kids regress over summer vacation—both socially and academically.  Re-entry in September can be an uneasy and lengthy transition.” says program director Cori Nichols of the program she’s built up on her farm. “Here the kids are having a good time while learning how to engage with the animals and each other.” The idea is that we learn from horses’ natural sense of responsibility and care. Certain behaviors attract horses, others repel them  “Skills addressed include listening and articulating, building trust and problem-solving,” Nichols adds. “No riding is involved. No horse experience is necessary.” For more info visit HudsonValleyHorsePlay.com       

PianoSummer’s Gala Kickoff

Classes with great concerts by the virtuoso faculty,  plus the annual Jacob Flier Piano Competition for pianists under the age of 35, kicks off with PianoSummer’s annual Faculty Gala featuring six master pianists, plus later guest artist recitals, on the SUNY New Paltz campus the evening of July 15. Begun more than two decades ago as a means of providing concentrated focus on emerging classical pianists, the program has become one of the Hudson Valley’s key cultural highlights.  “For years we have welcomed members and ticketholders with the wish that PianoSummer might someday be able to attract the top emerging young pianists from around the world based solely on their ability to play, not on their ability to pay,” said the program’s founder and artistic director, master pianist Vladimir Feltsman. “Each year, with their support, we have moved closer to reaching that goal. This year, we have finally achieved it!” For more information about PianoSummer at New Paltz, and to purchase tickets to its various recitals and concerts, visit www.newpaltz.edu/piano/.

Looking For An Exquisite Mountain Swim?

Interested in distance swimming at Lake Minnewaska? To become a member of the Minnewaska Distance Swimmers Association one must be at least 18 years of age and pass a test requiring a continuous swim for 500 yards (including 25 yards each of the crawl, breast stroke, side stroke and free style back stroke); tread water for 3 minutes; fill out forms, including a release of liability; pay a $20 fee and provide two head size photographs, the size of a driver’s license photo.  Tests will be given every Saturday in July.  Be certain to bring two clear copies of your driver’s license photo and to save time at the test, application forms can be obtained in advance by downloading them from the MDSA website, www.minnewaskaswimmers.org. The pool where testing is taking place is in New Paltz, on Mulberry Street, 1 block east of Route 32 just north of the village center.

State Gets Further Behind Craft Brewing…

New York State started pushing craft brewing, hard cider and new distilleries as an economic engine, tourism draw, and means of shifting agriculture around the state a few years back via laws, grants and research that’s created a whole new industry in the Hudson Valley. Recently, they again upped the ante by extending the ability for farmers to purchase crop insurance for malting barley, expanding opportunities for small grain farmers and supporting New York’s thriving craft beverage industry with the help of the  U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s all stemming from a 2014 Wine, Beer, Spirits and Cider Summit set to be replicated in the coming year, and touted for almost tripling the beverage industry statewide in this decade alone. Thirsty, anyone?

SUNY Ulster Getting A New Tech & Innovation Lab

Groundbreaking took place at SUNY Ulster’s new Pfeiffer Technology and Innovation Lab on their Stone Ridge Campus just before the summer solstice, looking to provide SUNY Ulster students and area residents with equipment, technology, and processes used in the  advanced technology and manufacturing industry and a well-equipped lab for industry members to test emerging products and processes.  The facility features an electrical engineering and programmable logic controller lab, a mechatronics and mechanical engineering lab, and a 3D modeling lab for AutoCAD/Solidworks computer aided design and 3D printing.  Like similar labs at SUNY New Paltz, as well as in the Capital District’s various colleges to our north, this helps position the Hudson Valley as a key area for new research and development… as well as new frontiers for inventive contemporary manufacturing and entrepreneurship. Check them out, and start dreaming up projects everyone! 

Ready To Lower Your Fuel Bills?

When the Mid-Hudson Fuel Buying Co-op recently opened its fourth year of discount prices for co-op members in Ulster, Dutchess, Greene and Columbia counties, MHFBC officials tell us, it was like flood gates had opened. During the 2016-17 season, the cooperative’s nearly 100 members made significant savings on oil and propane, adding up to hundreds of dollars for the year.  The 2017-2018 season prices for heating oil are capped at $2.099/gallon; propane prices are fixed at $1.39/gallon with no delivery charge for the season. Kerosene is also available at a discount, and members get other discounts, too, on service plans and equipment with a variety of payment plans offered and acceptance of subsidized HEAP customers. It was all founded in 2013 by Fay Loomis as a project of the Marbletown Transition movement and its membership has doubled each year since. Interested? Check out MHFBC’s annual “Roll Out the Barrel” potluck on Thursday July 20th at the Marbletown Community Center, where members and non members alike can learn more about the Tiny Homes movement and sustainability in general, participate in traditional singalong, and hear about expansion activities to include energy conservation and alternative energy us. Learn more by checking out the Mid Hudson Fuel Buying Coop on Facebook or calling 657-9764.

Rondout Valley Farms Win State Awards

The state announced more than $1 million has been awarded to twenty-seven new and early-stage farms through the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund, including two farms in the Town of Rochester. Since its launch in 2014, the program has provided nearly $2.5 million to 66 farms across the state to expand operations and improve profitability. Long Season Farm in Kerhonkson, started a couple of years ago with a focus on providing seasonal vegetables year round on a 10-acre property including about four acres of sandy soil, six acres of woods, a greenhouse, and two high, will be receiving $32,119. Westwind Orchard, in Accord, is a pick-your-own spot on Lower Whitfield Road with a popular cidery. It will receive $48,619. The New Farmers Grant Fund is administered by Empire State Development, in consultation with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Nearly 60 applications were submitted for program funding this round, with applicants scored based on specific criteria, including demonstrating how the project expands or diversifies agricultural production. Grant funds will be used for project costs associated with the construction of farm buildings, and the purchase of equipment and supplies. The Fund provides grants of up to $50,000 to assist with up to 50 percent of eligible project costs, with the remaining 50 percent being matched by the recipient. All eligible farm owners must be within the first ten years of ownership and the farm must have a minimum of $10,000 in income from sales of products grown or raised on the farm. Big kudos to Sam Zurofsky and Erin Enouen of Long Season Farm and Fabio Chizzola and Laura Ferrara of Westwind Orchard!