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Anu Rangarajan

Anu grew up growing vegetables and flowers for her family. Her love of horticulture led to degrees from Michigan State (BS, PhD) and University of Wisconsin (MS), in floriculture and vegetable production. She has been at Cornell since 1996, as statewide specialist for fresh market vegetable production. Her research interests include tillage, compost use and soil quality in vegetables and organic production systems. In 2005, she joined the ranks and started a small farm in Freeville NY.

Violet Stone
Small Farms Program Coordinator
NY State SARE Coordinator

Violet is originally from northeast Pennsylvania where she grew up on a 600 acre wildlife preserve. After graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in Environmental Studies, she worked as as a farmers market manager, local foods educator and farm direct-marketing consultant in the Hudson Valley, New York. She spent several years on the west coast, working with diversified vegetable farms in Washington and California. In 2005, she earned a Certificate in Agroecology from the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.  In 2009, she joined the Northeast SARE professional develop committee and now serves as the NESARE state coordinator.  Violet lives on a small homestead in Danby with her husband Joshua and baby Julian.

Erica Frenay
Online Course Manager

Erica began working for the Small Farms Program in January 2006. A former co-manager of Cornell’s student-run farm, she graduated from Cornell in 1998 and moved to Oregon to serve in AmeriCorps. Erica spent 6 years in the Pacific Northwest, working as Project Coordinator for an agricultural land trust and then as Executive Director of an urban educational farm in Portland. In 2005 she completed a 2-year program in Holistic Management. During her long and indirect journey back to Ithaca, Erica and her husband lived on a permaculture farm and nursery in the San Juan Islands for a year, and spent another year working on farms and building with clay and straw in New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Australia. They returned to Ithaca to settle down in the summer of 2005, and now raise veggies, mushrooms, berries, turkeys, chickens, and ducks on their homestead.

Ryan Maher
Beginning Farmer Professional Development Coordinator

Ryan began with the SFP in the summer of 2013 and shares his time with the Reduced Tillage research program. He is a Baltimore native with family and educational ties to CNY. After graduating from SUNY-ESF in 2003 he spent two summers training on diversified vegetable farms, first in SW Oregon and then in the Boston metro area. In 2007, he graduated from Iowa State with an MS in Sustainable Agriculture focusing on soils in native grassland restorations. He spent the last five years with the USDA-ARS in St. Paul MN, coordinating research on nutrient cycling in perennial forage crops. Ryan, his wife Jackie, and young daughter Gia are happy to settle in CNY and find the farms, forested hills, and water of the Finger Lakes to be a very welcoming place.

1Matt Weiss
Northeast Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator

Matt is an Ithaca, New York native who has returned to the Finger Lakes region after spending seven years living in Philadelphia, PA. Matt has a B.S. in Communications from Cornell University and an M.S. in Community and Regional Planning from Temple University, where he focused on environmental planning and the collaborative planning process. Most recently, Matt spent three and a half years working with small farms in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey on direct-to-consumer sales and marketing through farmers’ markets, CSAs, and buying clubs. His work in Philadelphia involved coordinating partnerships across a diverse group of stakeholders including farmers, small business owners, non-profits, and government agencies.  He is very excited to be returning to his roots in Central New York while continuing to work with small farms to help them grow and thrive.

Steve Gabriel
Agroforestry Specialist

Steve grew up in the Finger Lakes Region and from a young age took a passion for nature, forests, and farming. He graduated from Empire State College with a BS in Environmental Science, an educational path which incorporated aspects of forestry, ecology, and permaculture. He co-founded the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute in 2005 and began working at Cornell in 2009 in the Department of Horticulture, focusing on permaculture and agroforestry research and education. Along with fiance Liz, he operates Wellspring Forest Farm in Mecklenburg NY where they produce shiitake mushrooms, duck eggs, pastured lamb, and maple syrup. He has co-authored a book called “Farming the Woods” with Cornell professor Ken Mudge, due for publication in Fall 2014.

Sarah Nechamen
Student Assistant

Sarah grew up in Schenectady, New York where she became involved in the local urban farm and farmers market and developed an interest in sustainable agriculture, food justice, and the ways in which the two can intersect. At Cornell she spent some time working for the Cornell Orchards, assisting with research at an agro-ecology lab, and cultivating over a dozen gardens around the Cornell campus before landing at the Cornell Small Farms Program. Sarah is currently a senior Plant Sciences major.