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.
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. She has also been serving as the NE SARE state outreach coordinator since 2009. Violet and her partner Joshua have a small homestead in Danby where they grow vegetables, berries, and lots of flowers/ornamentals. They are excited to welcome their first child in August, 2013.
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 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.
Abby is a Michigan native pursuing her undergraduate degree in Agricultural Sciences. Before joining the Small Farms Program, she investigated controls of borer insects in sweet cherry orchards as the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Station student intern. She has continued to be involved in research at Cornell as a technician for Anu at the research farm in Freeville, NY. Abby enjoys writing and editing, so her favorite part of working at the Small Farms Program is helping to produce the Small Farm Quarterly.
Fay grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Lansing, NY. After receiving an Associates Degree from Alfred State in ‘ 74, he worked in Ghana for two years in the Peace Corps. Upon returning, he spent 3 years trying out 8 different jobs, many of which took place on a year long trip across the states on a motorcycle. Fay returned to work on his family’s dairy farm from 1980 – 1983. With his wife Linda, Fay purchased Benterra Farm in W. Groton in 1983. They enjoyed the 45-cow farm and tried many changes to make it sustainable: cropping extra acres, grazing, and finally transitioning to certified organic in 1997. The move to organic was a profitable one, and when their debts were paid off in 2003, Fay felt he was ready for a change. So he sold the cows and took a position coordinating the Graze NY program with CCE Cortland.
Fay feels one of the key points to finding success on the farm was fitting his farming style to himself. For many years he tried to fit himself to the way others farmed. In his work at Cornell he tries to work with farmers to step outside of what they think is the “normal way” to farm and fit their farming style to their own unique abilities. Fay is coordinating several of our Dairy Projects, including the NY Organic Dairy Initiative.