The Small Farms Program’s overall vision is a future where diverse and vibrant urban and rural farms build human capacity, revitalize communities, supply regional food systems, and foster ecological resilience in a changing world. Dani Baker and David Belding, partners in Cross Island Farms, have used Small Farms Program resources to build a farm that meets this vision. Cross Island Farms currently sells organic meats, fruits, eggs, and vegetables, is powered on sustainable energy, and stemmed from a childhood dream combined with a “Building Your Small Farm Dream” workshop hosted by the SFP in 2006.
Their story and other Small Farms Program successes were recently featured in the Spring Edition of PeriodiCALS (Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Quarterly Publication) and can be read here.
For instance, we have recently focused on ensuring that traditionally underserved groups have the resources to succeed in establishing farms. With the Labor Ready Farmer Program project, we are working to provide resources for Latino agricultural employees to move up the management ladder. Additionally, we have Operation Farm Ops: Veterans in Agriculture, which offers support to veterans desiring to farm via resources, workshops, and funding. One farm participating in this program is Centurion Farm, owned and operated by military veterans Nina and Jeffrey Saeli.
“One of the most valuable resources has been going to the workshops sponsored by the local Cornell extension offices,” Nina Saeli said of her experience. “They haven’t just been informative, but also provided many opportunities to network with local farmers.”
Helping farmers to scale up is one of the greatest challenges, as each farm has its own individual needs. One of the ways we hope to assist farmers statewide is through the Baskets to Pallets Cohort, which is designed to train educators to provide farmers the resources necessary to find and prepare for alternative markets. These include wholesale channels to grocery stores, restaurants, food hubs, and schools/institutions.
We aim to serve the diverse array of farmers and producers throughout New York State and take pride in providing resources necessary for producers to succeed. Read more about our program in the PeriodiCALS feature.