Happy New Year! As I write this message, delicate ice formations decorate the window and the pines outside are swaying gracefully in a swirl of snowflakes. As I checked the weather report this morning to find out how much snow this storm is expected to bring, I was not surprised to learn that the media is once again vilifying the storm, with language like “Storm to Invade Northeast with Unrelenting Snow”. Meanwhile, those of us that farm and garden know that winter plays a balancing role in the cycles of nature. Cold temperatures knock back pest pressure and snow insulates the ground and provides needed moisture in the Spring thaw. And without winter, we wouldn’t get to curl up inside and get some much needed rest for a few months (or ski!).
That said, erratic temperatures and climate instability are certainly a concern for the future of farming. I am pleased that this issue of SFQ offers two articles on converting to renewable energy, an important step toward making our farms and homesteads more stable and sustainable. If you’re thinking about how to become more energy efficient or install renewable energy on your farm, check out our archived webinar series and other resources at http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/resources/farm-energy/
Wishing you rest and warmth,
Small Farms Program Director Transitions to New Position
The Small Farms Program’s director, Anu Rangarajan, is transitioning out of her position at Cornell to assume a new role as the Director of the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, which is sponsored by the Local Economies Project and The New World Foundation. Anu was drawn to this position because it represents an opportunity to execute a vision for local farm and food systems that she has worked toward for the last 25 years. She will be working with the Small Farm Program’s Leadership Team to hire a new Director for the SFP in the next few months.
New York Veterans in Agriculture Summit
On November 6th, we hosted a summit for military veterans in agriculture and service organizations interested in supporting them. Nearly 100 veterans and service providers joined us at the NYS Fairgrounds to meet others interested in supporting veterans getting into agriculture and design programs and pathways to help veterans enter agriculture. Featured speaker Jamie Critelli touched on the unique skill sets of veterans that compliment farming, highlighted the challenges of reintegration into communities and outlined basic strategies to improve support of veterans who want to start farming. For more information on the gathering or to get involved in future programs, visit http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/veterans/
Professional Development Training for NE Beginning Farmer Service Providers
This year’s conference, Re-Strategizing with Advanced BF’s: Supporting Scale-up and Farm Investment Decision Making, was held in Albany, NY from October 27-29th, 2014. This train-the-trainer conference brought together over 50 service providers from extension programs, non-profit organizations, and government agencies across the NE to help improve service provider teaching skills and foster a growing BF service provider network. We offered intensive workshops on Credit Readiness, Farm Financial Analysis, Labor and Equipment Decision-Making, Marketing through Wholesale Channels, Whole Farm Decision-Making, and Reaching Out to Underserved BF Audiences. To learn more about the workshops offered or to join the Northeast Beginning Farmer Service Provider Network, visit http://nebeginningfarmers.org/trainers/