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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
Baskets to Pallets Project Manager
Communications Coordinator
Northeast SARE (Sustainable Ag, Research and Education) Coordinator for NY State

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 Development Committee and now serves as the NESARE State Coordinator.  Violet has a passion for flower production and maintains lots of gardens at her homestead in Danby along with her husband and three year old son.

Erica Frenay
Online Course Manager

Erica began working for the Small Farms Program in 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 five years later started Shelterbelt Farm. Now she works part-time for the Small Farms Program and part-time producing sheep, beef, duck eggs, honey, fruit, and veggies on her farm.

Ryan Maher
Extension Specialist
Reduced Tillage Project Manager

Ryan began with the SFP in the summer of 2013 and focuses on research and extension in soil health practices for vegetables. 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 five years with the USDA-ARS in St. Paul MN, coordinating research on nutrient cycling in perennial forage crops. Ryan, his wife Jackie, and daughters Gia and Olive are happy to settle in CNY and enjoy the food, farms, forested hills, and water of the Finger Lakes region.

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, which was published in Fall 2014.

Kathi Colen Peck
Regional Food Systems Specialist

Kathi Colen Peck attributes her spark & passion for farming to the day-long trips her family took as a child between NJ and western PA, where she jockeyed for position among her siblings for a window seat to stare longingly at the farms passing by—it would be a long time before she understood that she herself could farm. Fast forward a few years, Kathi landed at the UCSC Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems where she earned a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture and finally got her hands dirty. Since then, Kathi’s food, fiber & farming journey has taken her to four states: CA, WA, NY & VA, during which she directed the Urban Ag program for the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), started the organic farm and helped develop the organic ag systems major at Washington State University (as a graduate student), directed the Ithaca Children’s Garden, and led the Virginia Farmers Market Association and Virginia Food Systems Council. Along the way, Kathi’s been an avid home gardener, beekeeper, and tinkerer of home-grown dye plants, especially indigo. In 2015, she and her family moved back to the Finger Lakes and she joined the Small Farms Program as the Regional Food Systems Specialist to facilitate campus, county and community collaboration in NYS (for more info:

Dean Koyanagi
Veterans Program Associate

Dean served as a US Marine followed by a 10 yrs career in corporate and government facilities consulting. He obtained a master’s degree in environmental education, and served as Cornell’s sustainability coordinator. He and his wife have run a small fruit and vegetable farm for past 8 years.


Kat McCarthy
Beginning Farmer Coordinator

Kat was raised in upstate New York with a family who valued gardening, raising animals and preserving food. She holds an Environmental Studies degree from Ithaca College and an MBA in Sustainability from Green Mountain College. Prior to joining the SFP in the spring of 2017, she spent over a decade working in the field of sustainable materials management, where she encouraged waste reduction, reuse, recycling, food recovery, and composting.


Carli Fraccarolli
Student Assistant

Carli grew up in Rochester Hills, MI and fostered a deep connection to the natural environment through camping trips starting in her childhood. She studies Environmental and Sustainability Sciences at Cornell and is passionate about sustainability in urban environments. She plans to dedicate her career to urban planning and public health after graduation. She began working for the Cornell Small Farms Program in the summer of 2015.


Talia Isaacson
Student Assistant

Talia is originally from San Diego, CA, but her passion for agriculture mostly developed on the coast of Maine, where she lived and worked on an educational diversified farm throughout parts of her high school years. Since then, Talia has spent time working on various farms in both Vermont and Arkansas, which has further solidified her interest in small-scale agriculture and its myriad intersections with community welfare, environmental sustainability, and education. She is a sophomore in the English department at Cornell and began working for the Cornell Small Farms Program in early 2018.