Sustainability Pioneers: Peggy Clarke & Roseann Rutherford

Peggy Clarke & Roseann Rutherford
Sustainability Pioneers

InterGenerate co-founders Peggy Clarke and Roseann Rutherford first worked together on an intergenerational project at the Junior League of Northern Westchester. They later stepped away from the Junior League to start a new organization, designed to create programs and effect change at a faster pace. Last year, they named their organization InterGenerate, created a logo, and forged a relationship with the Marsh Sanctuary in Bedford to create a new community garden. InterGenerate debuted publicly at the 2009 Bedford Summit, where Clarke and Rutherford proclaimed their mission to create environmental and social sustainability around shared concerns for food security. The organization has become a major creative force in Westchester, bringing people and organizations together to forge relationships and collaborations on projects that are creating meaningful change in communities.

Community and Food Security
Clarke and Rutherford say they have seen an increasing desire in people for homegrown food. As a result, InterGenerate developed a teaching garden at John Jay Homestead in Bedford where adults and children learn how to garden, side by side. Growing food locally is critical for environmental sustainability, and InterGenerate’s model takes it a step further by promoting social sustainability as well—nurturing relationships between neighbors and generations. “It’s about building community and using food security as the issue to do this,” says Rutherford. “We can’t make changes without getting people to care about their neighbors [first].”
Last year, InterGenerate partnered with the Bedford Audubon Society to create an InterGenerational Garden Camp. There were four applicants for every opening at this wildly popular camp, so an additional location will be added this year. In February, InterGenerate started the Westchester Community Garden Network—an event at the County Center that drew surprising numbers. More than 200 people came to learn about things like composting and securing land for a community garden from a panel of experts. There was also time built in for questions and networking with other community garden enthusiasts and organizations. InterGenerate is now putting together a community garden message board, born of this event, to create an online network of community gardeners and resources.

New Programs
New developments at InterGenerate this month include the launch of their Lunch N’ Learn Series. The March 11 program, “On the Importance of Local Growing,” features keynote speaker Jayni Chase and takes place at the Glen Arbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills. Seats are still available.
This spring, a new 60-plot community garden will open at Marsh Sanctuary and serve as a resource for the Mt. Kisco Inter-Faith Food Pantry. Clarke and Rutherford are seeking private funding to build an InterGenerate center at the Marsh Sanctuary that will also serve as a sustainability demonstration center. The plan is to sustainably renovate an existing building on the site, using solar panels and renewable water systems.

How do they do it?
Although Clarke and Rutherford have identical roles as co-founders, their personalities differ and complement each other nicely. According to Clarke, Rutherford is an extrovert and a brilliant networker. “Roseann is the type of person you want to send into a room. She gets organizations involved easily and quickly.” A Somers resident, Clarke, describes herself as an introvert who prefers to work one-on-one with people at the back of the room and behind the scenes, providing structure to events and helping to keep things running smoothly.
Clarke’s other roles include Director of Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Croton, Co-Chair of the Westchester chapter of Slow Food, USA, and board member of the Westchester Anti-Racism Alliance. She’s also the mother of a newborn, and says that her work has always involved providing basic needs for people and translating theological concepts into worldly action. Clarke cites a powerful decision that she and her husband made 14 years ago to stay true to who they are and what they value.
Rutherford’s mantra is Gandhi’s: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” “You have to believe change can happen and want to be part of it,” notes Rutherford. “Be willing to step out of the box and do things a little differently to create change.” In addition to InterGenerate, Rutherford, a Katonah resident, is an active member of the Katonah-Lewisboro Parent Teacher Organization at John Jay Middle School, a member of the Westchester chapter of Slow Food, USA and a full-time mother of four.
Creating something from nothing seems to be a specialty for Rutherford and Clarke. They joke that InterGenerate is a “zero budget organization” with no paid positions. But somehow, whether they need a free venue for a large event or dozens of volunteers for a project, these two powerful women have a knack for manifesting what they need.

For more information about the programs at InterGenerate, including the March 11 Lunch N’ Learn Series, visit intergenerateny.org.

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