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The Cornell Small Farms Promushrooms, woodlot, agroforestry, treegram is seeking farmers who have grown and sold specialty mushrooms commercially during 2017 in the states of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania to respond to a survey about their harvest numbers, sales, and marketing strategies.

The goal in collecting this information on an annual basis is to keep a pulse on the state of specialty mushroom cultivation by small farms in the Northeast USA.

Answers to this survey will be kept confidential, and no individual responses will be shared publicly.

Eligible farmers are asked to respond by
Friday March 23rd at:

In addition to collecting sales and production data, we are also interested in capturing the research and education needs of the mushroom growing community. Please share your thoughts and ideas when prompted.

After compiling the results, the program will offer a summary of the data via a public webinar, which can be useful to a number of individuals and institutions for granting, market assessment, and other uses for a growing industry.

Any questions can be directed to Steve Gabriel at

Sessions will take place in the Hudson Valley and in western New York for Latino agricultural employees to gather feedback and help inform program development. These roundtables will offer an opportunity to discuss the role of a farm manager and identify skills that are important to successfully climb the ladder from laborer to management. Events are scheduled for:

  • March 12, 4-7 pm, Goshen, NY – contact Gabriela Pereyra for more information to sign up by email or phone (212)788-7900 x288
    12 de Marzo de 4 a 7 pm en Goshen, NY- Para registrarse llamar a Gabriela Pereyra al (212)788-7900 x288 o envía un email
  • March 16, 1-4 pm, Wayne County – more information can be found in the event announcement or on the registration website.
  • March 17, 1-4 PM, Orleans County – more information can be found in the event announcement or on the registration website.

Local and Regional Food Systems at Cornell recently launched a new, dynamic LRFS website to better demonstrate, strengthen, and build the network around local & regional food systems in New York State.  Learn about the network of peopleprojectsresources, and locations of their workconnect with others who are working on food system issues; participate in events or online forums; share info on your Cornell or CCE based programs in LRFS; and explore CU/CCE expertise across various areas of local food systems work. In essence, LRFS is sharing your stories to better leverage your work, to help you stay connected, and to strengthen their impact in local & regional food systems. Nominate someone, including yourself, for a spotlight interview. Or, upload your own here!

Do you hire, or are you considering hiring, migrant or foreign-born labor? Do you want to improve your skills in supervising employees who come from different cultures, especially workers from Mexico and Central America? If yes, this workshop is for you!

On April 12 from 11:30am-5:00pm, learn how to build better relations between farmers and workers and how to establish meaningful communication across cultures and language barriers. Mary Jo Dudley, Director of the Cornell Farmworker Program, will discuss how to create positive workplaces and reduce miscommunication and culturally-based misunderstandings. Other speakers will address access to health services, opportunities for English language learning, and tips for worker and employer emergency preparedness.

Cost: $20
Location: Jordan Hall, NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, 630 W. North St., Geneva, NY, 14456
Register Here.
If you are unable to register online, contact Abby Henderson at (518) 746-2553 or

Read more about the workshop here.

Do you manage employees on a farm? Do you need help recruiting and retaining good staff? Please take this brief survey and share important feedback that will help shape our new Labor Ready Farmer project. Growing a great workforce can result in long-term benefits for your business. Share your management challenges and successes to help us better understand how to develop effective program tools, such as online courses and videos, plain language guides, and workshops. Participants can enter to win either a $100 gift certificate to Tractor Supply or a free Cornell Small Farms online agricultural course of their choice in the coming year. One winner will be selected for every 50 participants. Learn about existing efforts and events, including the Improving Ag Labor Management Workshop series, at the Labor Ready Farmer webpage. For more information, contact Kat McCarthy (kmm485@cornell.edu607-255-9911) or Anu Rangarajan (

Cornell Small Farms ProgramEquicenter of RochesterDraft Animal Power Network, and Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming present: Beginning Teamster Workshop –  Working With Draft Horses

February 17th 9:00AM – 4:00PM
Oxley Equestrian Center, Cornell University, Ithaca NY

In this workshop we aim to give participants a full day of experiencing what is like to work with draft animals.  We will focus on what keeps us safe, what we gain from work with drafts, and how we can make them fit into profitable farms and businesses. We want folks to get their hands on the animals, the harnesses, and the lines and see what it is like. Depending on interest and demand we are considering future programs on using draft animals in Agriculture and logging.

What You Will Learn:

9:00 AM Introduction
What is a Draft horse? Why do the they work for us?
Learn safety principles for working with Draft Animals.

10:00AM Two Groups
First group: How are they harnessed?
Second group: How are they driven?

11:00AM First Drive

12:00PM Lunch (Bring your own bag lunch)

1:00PM Two Groups
First group: Driving with a cart or wagon.
Second group: Ground driving with a log.

3:00PM  How to Continue Training Your Team
Discussion on round pens, lunge ropes and working to train.
Opportunities for fun, therapeutic, and productive work with draft animals.

4:00PM END

With contributions and support from the Cornell Small Farms ProgramEquicenter of RochesterDraft Animal Power Network, and Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming.

Cost: $40 for Veterans, Immigrants and Refugees
$80 for the general public
Bring your own bag lunch

Veterans with questions or needs please call, text or email:
Nathan Bush, USAF Veteran, Farm Manager, EquiCenter Inc.

*Veterans in New York State may be eligible for a reimbursement scholarship to attend this program. To learn more about this opportunity, and determine if you are eligible for a scholarship to a specific event, please contact Kat McCarthy at the Cornell Small Farms Program by email or at 607-255-9911.*

General questions or for interpretation needs, please call or email:
Kate Cardona, Outreach & Equity Coordinator, Groundswell

Register Here or call 607-319-5095                Pay Here

Our Small Farms Bi-Monthly Update brings you small farm announcements, events, job and internship opportunities, grant and loan opportunities, other small farm resources. It is intended for farmers and agricultural service providers in New York and the Northeast. If have an item to be included in the update, please contact Violet Stone at Sign up here!

2017 Small Farm Updates

Looking for a grant opportunity or resource that appeared a few issues back? To view previous 2017 issues, click on the links below.

Issue 1  Issue 2
December December 1st Issue  December 15th Issue
November November 1st Issue  November 15th Issue
October October 2nd Issue  October 17th Issue
September September 1st Issue  September 15th Issue
August August 2nd Issue August 16th Issue
July June 30th Issue July 17th Issue
June June 1st Issue June 15th Issue
May May 1st Issue May 15th Issue
April April 3rd Issue April 17th Issue
March March 1st Issue March 15th Issue
February February 2nd Issue February 16th Issue
January No Issue January 16th Issue

Ring in the new year with our exciting and educational online courses! Click the links for further information, including registration.

BF 102: Markets and Profits

Have an idea for a farm enterprise but not sure if it’s feasible? This course will help you explore the potential markets and profitability of your ideas, picking up where BF 101: Square One left off. (You do not have to take BF 101 before taking BF 102) 

BF 121: Veggie Farming 2 – From Season-Long Care to Harvest

This course continues where BF 120 ends and covers vegetable production from transplanting to harvest, including information on in-season fertility, integrated pest management, weed control options, harvesting strategies, and tips for marketing your products. Be prepared to create an in-season fertility and pest/weed control plan as part of this course.

Weekly homework will focus on preparing you to make good decisions in the coming growing season. (Note: You do NOT need to take BF 120 to enroll in this course) 

BF 151:Woodland Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation

Mushrooms are an emerging niche crop with many benefits, including improving farmer stewardship of forested lands and the ability to offer a unique and highly desired product. With a bit of practice, mushrooms can be easily grown in the woods on many products that can be the surplus of healthy forest management.

This course trains new and experienced farmers in the background, techniques, and economics of farm scale woodland mushroom production. Students will learn the basic biology of mushrooms, cultivation techniques for shiitake, oyster, lions mane, and stropharia mushrooms, proper conditions for fruiting, management needs, and harvesting and marketing mushrooms.

BF 203: Holistic Financial Planning

If you’ve been struggling to make your farm operation profitable without driving yourself into the ground, this financial planning course is for you. Ultimately, it will help you with the delicate balancing act that all farmers must succeed in:  balancing healthy profits with healthy land and a healthy farm family and personal life.

You will learn how to make financial decisions toward farm & family values and goals, and how to build profit into your plans up front, rather than hoping there is something left once expenses are subtracted from income. If you have been struggling with the financial statements in your business plan, this is a great course to help you focus in on these and get clear on your numbers.

BF 223: Tree Fruit Production

Tree fruit are an important component of the agricultural and homeowner landscape. Planting and management of apple and other tree fruit orchards is a rewarding hobby and business, but important considerations must be met to ensure success.

This course trains beginning tree fruit growers in fundamental concepts in orchard planning and management. Content will include site selection and management, rootstock and cultivar selection, orchard systems, pest management, nutrient management, and harvest considerations for commercial orchards tailored to the northeast U.S.

BF 232: Commercial Sheep Production

Have sheep or thinking about getting a flock? Producers of all experience levels will find something for them in this lively, wide-ranging course. There is no one right way to raise sheep – just a palette of options for you to choose from, to suit your farming objectives and lifestyle.

Taught by experienced sheep producers and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, this course will cover many of these different options, and strongly encourages active student participation.

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting several program workshops at the 2018 Empire State Producers Expo, January 16-18, in Syracuse, NY. We hope to see you there!

Emerging Markets: Profitable Log-Grown Shiitake Mushrooms
hands, mushroom The Cornell Small Farms Program will present a workshop on how woodland-cultivated shiitake mushrooms have come to be a leader in profitable agroforestry crops.  This workshop is led by Don Gasiewicz of CCE Wyoming along with Mariann Garrison-Johnston of Wintonbury Farm and Ron Delaney of Tiny House Farm. Attend this workshop to learn about the potential for profitable mushroom cultivation, with a focus on outdoor wood-grown methods. Cornell has been doing research and extension work in this crop for over 10 years. Participants will hear from extension educators and two active growers who have been participating in a business development network to get their enterprises off the ground. Expect to learn the basic methods and requirements for growing, along with information on pricing, markets, and regulations around selling mushrooms.
2018 Empire State Producers Expo: January 16, 2018, 2:00-3:15pm

Demystifying Equipment Purchases
tractorThis two-part session at the Expo will review factors for making equipment purchases and will be paired with a tailored tour of trade show to address participant’s questions. The session will provide an overview to help participants evaluate the many factors to consider when buying equipment, including the trade-offs of purchasing new or used, maintenance needs, and potential challenges. During the second section of the track, presenter Shane LaBrake for a tour of the trade show floor to review key considerations for picking a tractor and scaling-up equipment, tailored to the interests of session participants. This Expo session was organized by Anu Rangarajan and Kat McCarthy of the Cornell Small Farms Program.
2018 Empire State Producers Expo: 
January 18, 2018, 9:00-10:15am (Part A) & 10:45am-12:00pm (Part B)

Getting the Most from Your Labor
During this session, Elizabeth Higgins, of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Eastern NY Commercial Hort Program will share techniques for develop clear job descriptions, including information about hiring staff, and offering just in time feedback andperformance appraisal to both correct problems and motivate employees. Presenter Kat McCarthy, Cornell Small Farms Program, will next explain how to develop components of an employee handbook, and how these materials can help with employee recruitment and retention. The session will be concluded with a presentation by Mary Jo Dudley of the Cornell Farmworker Program, who will describe how to establish and run effective training programs. Participants will leave this session with an outline of text/concepts they could include in the development of their own employee handbook, as well as a check-list for developing job descriptions and training programs on their own farm.
2018 Empire State Producers Expo: January 18, 2018, 2:00-4:00pm

Novel Cover Cropping and Strip Tillage Practices for Vegetables
Attend this workshop to learn how you can integrate cover cropping and reduced tillage practices while overcoming the residue and weed management challenges.field row cropHear Janaki Fisher-Merritt from the Food Farm(Wrenshall, MN) discuss how they have worked to incorporate cover crops in a diverse rotation with cover crop fallows, interseeding, and cut-and-carry mulching. Ryan Maher, from the Cornell Small Farms Program, will share research results from the latest trials on strip tillage in winter hardy cover crops and adaptations for organic cropping systems. Come to think through the approaches and tools that will work to reduce inputs and improve productivity on your farm.
2018 Empire State Producers Expo: January 18, 2018, 9:00-10:15am

NESARE Farmer Grants are for commercial producers who have an innovative idea they want to test using a field trial, on-farm demonstration, marketing initiative, or other technique. A technical advisor–often an extension agent, crop consultant, or other service professional–must also be involved. Projects should seek results other farmers can use, and all projects must have the potential to add to our knowledge about effective sustainable practices.  To apply, you must be a commercial farmer in the Northeast SARE region. You need not be farming full time, but your operation should have an established crop or animal product that you sell on a regular basis. Browse the NESARE Farmer Grants website here for more information on the application process, previous farmer grants, and more. Applications are due December 5th, 2017.

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