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Cornell Small Farms Program Update

Message from the Managing Editor


Violet and Julian, 8 weeks old

Happy 2014! I’ve been advised by older relatives that as we age, time speeds up, and the years pass more quickly.  This was especially true for me last August when our first child, Julian, was born.  I thought nearly 3 months of being disconnected from work and the outside world would seem like an eternity, but it only took an instant to realize that caring for a newborn is so completely consuming that you don’t have time to check the clock!  Still, I tried to be present for the peaceful fall moments sitting on our porch with Julian sleeping in my lap, witnessing the yard grow quiet as the song birds and their noisy fledglings departed for their winter homes.  As Julian grew before our eyes, I watched the apples blush and drop from the tree and the garden frost over and turn brown. The aroma of sweet warm grass in the wind turned to the fermented smell of fall foliage.

These moments of connection with the turning world are only possible when we are outside, observing and interacting with the land.  Experiencing the vitality of the earth around us is one of many rewards that the lifestyle of farming and gardening brings.  Now that my own nestling is bright-eyed and eager to explore, I’m planning to do my best to slow down and enjoy introducing him to the fleeting gifts of the moment.

Whatever patch of ground you steward in the year ahead, I hope it brings many rewards.

Best wishes,


Cornell Small Farms Program Update

Winter Online Courses for Aspiring, New, & Experienced Farmers
As the intensity of the growing season winds down and you begin to organize for spring, consider the option of learning alongside fellow farmers and experts to make the most of your downtime this winter! The online courses offered by the Beginning Farmer Project are designed to be completed at your own pace with recorded lessons you can refer back to all year long and the opportunity to discuss each week’s lesson and readings with teachers and fellow students alike. Among the interactive six week courses offered by the Beginning Farmer Project this winter is BF 104: Financial Records – Setting Up Systems to Track Your Profitability, which runs Monday, January 13 – February 17. After this course, you will be able to set up a simple spread sheet (MS Excel) and software program (QuickBooks Pro) to start financial data collection. You will learn to calculate simple business ratios to assist in management decisions and discover requirements used by lending institutions to make loan determinations.

Additional courses currently open for registration include BF 106: Organic Certification – What, How, and Why (or Why Not), BF 120: Vegetable Farming – From Planning to PlantingBF 201: Effective Marketing for the Busy Farmer – Work Smarter, Not Harder, and more! Visit for the full listing of classes and to register.

Small Farms Program Hosts Training for Beginning Farmer Educators
What new research and tools can we incorporate in our beginning farmer training services? What are the most effective methods for training these new farmers? How do we reach diverse and underserved beginning farmer communities? Beginning farmer service providers from across the NE gathered in Albany, NY in early November to tackle these issues in a 3 day professional development training.  Over 50 beginning farmer service providers representing extension services, organizations, and government agencies across 8 states joined invited speakers to focus on improving training skills in Organic Vegetable Production and Farm Financial and Business Management. Conference workshops brought creative teaching methods that will translate into new knowledge and skills for beginning farmers as they build their farm enterprise. Participants were also challenged to think about how they can effectively reach veterans, african americans, latinos, recent immigrants, women and other underserved groups in their community. The conference was hosted by the Cornell Small Farms Program through funding from NE SARE. More information can be found in the Trainers Toolbox on the Northeast Beginning Farmers Project website:


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