Given the recent weather and the large impact Tropical Storm Irene has had on the region including farms in Rensselaer County, Rensselaer County Farm Bureau and the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York are canceling this year’s A Taste of Rensselaer County. Originally scheduled to be held on September 14, 2011, A Taste of Rensselaer County is an annual event meant to connect consumers to the vital role agriculture plays in Rensselaer County. All dishes offered at the event are created from ingredients sourced within the county and highlight the bounty provided to the community by area farmers. All proceeds from this year’s event were to benefit the Regional Food Bank.

“Tropical Storm Irene has deeply impacted area farms including key vegetable farms in Rensselaer County. Given the nature of A Taste of Rensselaer County and its close connection to local farmers, we have decided to cancel the event,” said Dean Casey, President of Rensselaer County Farm Bureau. “We see this as an opportunity to educate the public about the close relationship between nature and the food that we eat. It’s now time to shift gears and work to keep our farming community intact.”

To that end, Rensselaer County Farm Bureau, the Agricultural Stewardship Association, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and others are coming together to create a “Seed Bank” for farmers. This central fund will be available to vegetable farmers affected by flooding in the area to apply for financial assistance to purchase the vital seeds needed to invest in their business.

“As a key provider of disaster relief, the Regional Food Bank recognizes the need to reach out to our farm partners,” said Joanne Dwyer, Director of Food Industry Relations & Business Development Representative for the Regional Food Bank. “We look forward to working with Rensselaer County Farm Bureau and the Agricultural Stewardship Association in re-directing the great effort and awareness built by A Taste of Rensselaer County to help those who so often help us.”

For more information on the Seed Bank or on how you can make a donation to the fund, please contact Jennifer Jennings, Food Industry Relations Associate at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York at 518.786.3691 ext. 286 or at jenniferj@regionalfoodbank.net.