In 2018, MHLC is introducing you to some of our incredible community members: volunteers, easement holders, donors, and more. In December, we speak with MHLC member Laura Shore: artist, volunteer, and activist. Laura is the artist behind Farm Share Studio and currently has a show at Arlene’s Artist Materials on at 57 Fuller Road in Albany which will run through the end of January 2019. You may have seen Laura’s paintings of fresh, local food and open landscapes in the Capital Region in MHLC’s newsletters, e-blasts, and ads: read on to learn how Laura’s art benefits local conservation organizations, including MHLC!
What do you love about living in the Capital Region?
I enjoy exploring the back roads and agricultural landscapes that surround my village of Altamont. There’s nothing like cresting a hill and seeing fields and big skies revealed on the other side. I also like learning about the history of places, and have found that agricultural landscapes are as readable as old maps. Until recently many parts of our region have seen family farms exist quite intimately with suburbs. But today, these farmlands are under pressure because the farmers are struggling. As a result, development threatens to turn our beautiful region into another Atlanta, strangled by cars and sprawl.
How does your art support local farmland?
When I retired five years ago, my goal was to begin painting and to find a way to give back to the community. I chose to focus on local food as a way to promote CSAs (community supported agriculture), farmers markets, and farm stands. If we can build consumer demand for local food, I thought, we can make it more profitable for small farmers to stay on the land. Imagine if the 1.2 million people in the Capital Region spent even a small portion of their food budget directly with local farmers.
From my paintings I produce cards and prints, which are available in local shops. Each year 10% of my proceeds are donated to organizations that support farmland conservation through agricultural easements and other means. Happily, the amount has grown every year. I focus my giving on the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, the Agricultural Stewardship Association, and the American Farmland Trust. I also donate to the Schenectady Greenmarket, Capital Roots, and the Regional Food Pantries.
*Support local conservation, local foods, and local art: visit the Farm Share Studio Etsy shop to purchase Laura’s artwork.
Why do you support local agriculture and farmlands?
I’ve learned that eating organic food from farms that integrate livestock with produce helps balance out the environmental demands of farming and helps protect against climate change. We have enough ghost malls and empty storefronts in overbuilt shopping centers to realize that real estate development benefits the developers but not the community over the long term. And once we’ve let the land go, it’s gone forever.