Fertile imaginations

ARTiculture event this Saturday at Hurd Farm in Modena raises funds for Unison

by Frances Marion Platt
September 22, 2010 11:07 PM | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In early 2009, the Unison Arts & Learning Center, New Paltz’s premier community venue for music, performance art and all sorts of self-improvement workshops, found itself in a quandary: Its primary financial supporter, the New York State Council on the Arts, was radically cutting its customary grant funding as the recessionary economy put the squeeze on the state budget. Potential foundation funders were in the same belt-tightening mode. It quickly became clear that if Unison was going to be able to continue its programs at the accustomed level, it was going to have to find ways to generate new, more local income streams.

Thus was the ARTiculture concept born. Unison’s executive director Stuart Bigley reasoned that farmers and artists represent two critical segments of the Ulster County economy in need of creative approaches to staying sustainable, and sought a way to get a bit of cross-pollination going. Viewed from an economic angle, that increasingly popular agritourism phenomenon the corn maze, for example, is a way to diversify the income of a family farm; but from an aesthetic viewpoint, what is it but landscape art?

So Bigley began brainstorming with local sustainable farmer and Unison enthusiast Billiam van Roestenberg to concoct a summer festival at the latter’s Liberty View Farm in Clintondale that would provide visitors with a day of rural fun while emphasizing the areas where agriculture and the arts overlap. The July 2009 event managed to elicit some seed money from the Dutchess County Arts Council and was a modest success in terms of attendance for Year One.

This year, ARTiculture II happens in September – on this Saturday, September 25 from 1 to 5 p.m., to be precise. And although van Roestenberg remains involved in the project, a new, notably kid-friendly venue has been selected: Hurd Family Farm, located at 2187 Route 32 in Modena. Two Hudson Valley bands, kids’ music juggernaut Uncle Rock and the Shoe String Band, will play rock ‘n’ roll, bluegrass and square dance music. Supporters hope that the live performances plus a juried crafts show of the finest artisans in the valley, a farmers’ market and all the fun farm-themed rides that are already a Hurd Farm hallmark will mesh to take the ARTiculture phenomenon to a new level of success.

Although the ultimate purpose behind the innovative tourism concept is to raise urgently needed funds for Unison programs, admission to all ARTiculture events is free. For those wanting to take part in Hurd Farm’s all-inclusive family fun activities – the Cow Train Ride, Country Hayride, Apple Launchers, Giant Kids’ Corral, Trike Track, Fish Feeding Dock, Colossal Corn Maze Challenge, Eco-Discovery Trail and ABCs of Agriculture Mini-Maze – there is a Family Activity Fee of $10, with children age 2 and under admitted free. In its ongoing effort to recognize the importance of the arts in the community, Hurd Farm will donate 30 percent of the Family Activity Fee to Unison. So don’t miss this opportunity to support your local farmer and community arts center while sampling all the great art, music, crafts, fresh produce and fun that ARTiculture has to offer.

Visit or for more information, or call Unison at (845) 255-1559.

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