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Growing a better future

Leadership Tech Valley project expands Patroon Land Farm’s growing capacity

Mark Weinheimer, manager of Patroon Land Farm, shakes the hand of a Leadership Tech Valley Class of 2014 member.

Mark Weinheimer, manager of Patroon Land Farm, shakes the hand of a Leadership Tech Valley Class of 2014 member. Photo by John Purcell.

— A group of area community members turned to the roots of agriculture to build leadership skills and help feed hungry families.

The Leadership Tech Valley Class of 2014 formally unveiled its project Thursday, June 12, which included installing a high tunnel greenhouse and modern drip irrigation system at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York’s Patroon Land Farm in the Town of Knox. Class members raised $50,000 from sponsors, along with building the greenhouse and irrigation system. Patroon Farm’s growing season will be extended thanks to the effort.

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The high tunnel greenhouse at Patroon Land Farm was formally unveiled Thursday, June 12. The Leadership Tech Valley Class of 2014 raised funds and built the structure.

“Three and a half weeks ago, this was a field, and look at it today. It’s absolutely amazing,” said class member Chris Trant, of MVP Health Care, said. “We put in over 1,000 hours collectively.”

Regional President of M&T Bank Michael Keegan, the program’s major sponsor, said the project would benefit the community “for years to come.”

The leadership program is a shared initiative of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Schenectady County. The two chambers combined their leadership programs in 2006 to form it.

“I am very proud of this year’s class and what the group has accomplished,” said Mark Eagan, president and CEO of the Albany-Colonie Chamber. “It has been exciting to watch the class members come together and successfully complete a project that will leave a lasting, positive impact on the neediest members of our community.”

Leadership Tech Valley seeks to unite a diverse group of people to develop their leadership potential and better serve their organization. Participants are selected from a group of applicants, who then attend an opening two-day retreat and complete nine sessions from October through June.

Each year, class members select a new community outreach project. Justin Priddle, vice president at Berkshire Bank, said fellow class members wanted a project that could sustain itself and provide long-term benefits, while giving back to community.

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