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Did you know that agriculture is the only sector that can actually pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil? Known as “carbon farming,” the sequestration of carbon in soil is not only good for our planet, it can also improve the fertility and water holding capacity of your land. Carbon farming results in a resilient soil more apt to face climate change; increased carbon aids plant growth and is vital to the wellbeing of the carbon nutrient cycle.

Many practices to sequester carbon on your farm are already in widespread use: applying compost, creating contour buffer strips, and planting hedgerows all aid in carbon sequestration. There are even more practices to consider implementing, according to the Carbon Cycle Institute. In addition to increasing soil health and removing greenhouse gases, focused carbon farming practices can create jobs in your community.

Don’t miss the upcoming Small Farms Program-sponsored event, “Farmers Can Help Cool the Planet.” This free, informational carbon farming forum is coming to Ithaca on Wednesday, September 26 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Join Dr. Jeffrey Creque from the Carbon Cycle Institute and three local farmers from various agricultural sectors to learn about how carbon farming has been implemented and how you can begin to carbon farm. The event will take place at the Tompkins County Public Library. For more information or questions on the event, contact Sara Hess.

Interested in learning even more about carbon farming? This fall the Small Farms Program is offering an online course on “Climate Smart Farming,” which covers methods of implementing some of these practices on your own farm.

Welcome to our new installment of Small Farms’ Recommended Reading! Here you’ll find a variety of articles handpicked each week by the Small Farms team. These include resources, educational articles, and tips — all in one location for a quick browse of news in addition to our bimonthly newsletter.

This week we’re reading about the future of lab-grown meat, the importance of soil health in eliminating hunger, and the wheat genome being mapped. Additionally, United States-based lamb producers should find results of a recent survey encouraging and a lawsuit facing Monsanto could affect the future of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) crops and pesticides.

Do you have reading recommendations? Share with us using our online form.

Consumers’ Reactions to Lab-Grown “Meat”

Controversy and uncertainty revolve around the labeling and sales of lab-grown meat. However, this could be a viable option for reducing meat consumption in the United States for reasons surrounding reduced environmental impact. Read more.


Soil Health Essential in Achieving Zero Hunger

One-third of the earth’s soil is degraded and improving the health is essential to help eliminate world hunger. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently identified the top threats to soil health, some of which include: soil erosion, salinization, and compaction. Read more.


Wheat Genome Finally Discovered

Despite its standing as a staple crop, the wheat genome has never been mapped. Researchers at University of Minnesota-St. Paul charged with the wheat breeding program have successfully mapped the genome which could lead to future genetically modified wheat. Read more.


Encouraging News for Lamb Producers

Although lamb has not been a primary meat consumed in the United States, a recent survey indicates that more consumers are beginning to prefer lamb. Additionally, nearly seven in ten consumers prefer American-grown lamb. Read more.


Legal Battle Surrounding Glyphosate

While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that glyphosate (Roundup) is not carcinogenic, the World Health Organization has classified it as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The lawsuit of plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson of California, vs. Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) could change the future of genetically modified plants and pesticide use. Read more.

Did you know we’ve released the latest batch of online courses? There is a great range of educational opportunities this year. Check out the course homepage to find the courses that best fit your needs.

Are you a beginning farmer exploring various market channels? Course 102 may be the right option for you. Exploring high tunnel opportunities? Achieve season extension with advice and technical assistance through Course 220. Ever thought about mushroom cultivation? Then Course 151 on shiitake mushroom cultivation is for you. In total, we have 20 courses to choose from in the 2018-2019 course calendar.

Courses are six weeks and consist of weekly live webinars, videos, and other resources. Registration for a webinar enables up to two people from each farm to participate. If you’re unable to attend in “real time,” the webinars are all recorded and available to be watched for your convenience. Prices range from $195-$295, but some tiered pricing options exist and we offer a 50% discount to active duty and former military members.

Head over to our Online Course FAQ page to find out more. Still have questions? Contact our course managers Erica Frenay or Steve Gabriel.

Welcome to our new installment of Small Farms’ Recommended Reading! Here you’ll find a variety of articles handpicked each week by the Small Farms team. These include resources, educational articles, and tips — all in one location for a quick browse of news in addition to our bimonthly newsletter.

This week we’re reading about the gene that controls plant germination, the future of expiration dates on milk, and drones replacing bees. Additionally, a nationwide forum was used to brainstorm ways to economically revitalize the dairy industry. Back-to-school food safety tips assist in preventing foodborne illness, geoengineering might not be a feasible option to cool down Earth, and hemp is an exciting new option for growers statewide round out this week’s SFP Recommended Reading.

Do you have reading recommendations? Share with us using our online form.

Evolution in Plant Germination 

Scientists at the University of York have recently discovered that there is a key gene, MFT, that determines whether plants germinate. Although it is known that hormones ABA and GA affect germination, MFT interprets these hormones and is able to tell the plant whether to germinate or not. Read more.



Barcodes on Milk?

Currently, expiration dates on milk are based on experience and not science. The “sell by” dates are typically before the milk actually goes bad, yet consumers will throw away the milk on that date. New bacteria identifying technology is being tested in hopes of reducing milk waste by using real-time barcodes instead of “sell by” dates. Read more.


Drones Filling the Gap in Pollination

Orchard owners may soon be able to use fully automated processes to pollinate trees. This is a huge step as there are fewer and fewer bees and, at times, bees are not active during cold days that may occur during critical pollination windows in the northeast. Read more.




Ideas to Stabilize the Dairy Industry

Milk prices have been low for years, but dairy farmers from across the country are banding together to try to save the industry. Ideas such as establishing a price floor, fining for overproduction, and supporting laws that increase school access to milk were discussed in the meeting. Read more.



Back to School Food Safety Tips

Bacteria can live on a surface for up to 32 hours and contaminate school lunches. Tips such as using an insulated bag with two or more cold sources can help you or your child’s lunch at a safe temperature for hours. Read more.




Geoengineering Would Be Detrimental to Crops

Scientists from UC Berkeley did research regarding injecting particles into the atmosphere to block the sun and cool Earth. This, called geoengineering, would decrease global warming by using volcano eruptions as a model. However, doing this would result in lower crop productivity, which results in a less attractive option to combat global warming. Read more.


Hemp: New Option for Farmers in New York

Increased funding from New York State and Research from Cornell University, Binghamton University, and SUNY Morrisville have partnered with growers and cultivators for pilot programs. This crop, devoid of almost all THC, can be used for fiber, nutritional substances, and potentially medicinally. Read more.


On August 7 and 8, Small Farms’ own Violet Stone convened the inaugural gathering of the new Baskets to Pallets educator cohort. In this post, Violet shares a retrospective on who the new cohort is and the work they plan to do over the next two years.

Last week, I was happy to find myself out of my office chair and seated instead in the light-filled Loft space at the Carriage House Café with 15 educators and farmers from all over the state. Most of the members of our new Baskets to Pallets cohort hadn’t met before, so we were excited to spend the morning getting to know each other’s passions, interests and niches within the food system. The group then turned focus toward its mission — to facilitate access to new market channels for farmers interested in entering “intermediate” venues such as food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants and cooperatives. The cohort will support farmers and producers who are experiencing cooling trends in direct markets such as farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) operations and farm-stands through providing coaching and training on how to successfully enter intermediate channels.

The Baskets to Pallets Educator Cohort

We launched into our work together by looking at big market trends such as the rapid acceleration of online grocery sales and consumer’s growing preferences for local, fresh food. Big trends affect sales for farmers on the ground, and we want to stay abreast of how the food scene is changing and how we can advise farmers to take advantage of new opportunities. Then, we reflected more personally on the marketing challenges and opportunities we were each observing in the regions where we work. Yes, the data tells us that local food is big and in growing demand, but local reports confirm it’s challenging to get small products to big markets and we have plenty of work ahead in getting farmers ready for wholesale and connecting them to scale-appropriate markets.

Pictured from Left to Right: Laura Biasillo, Sumak Katarhy and Mariane Kiraly

We rounded out our gathering by talking with buyers from throughout the Northeast. Conversations with staff at Headwater Food Hub, Red Tomato and Honest Weight Food Cooperative shed some perspectives on what buyers do and don’t need to have successful business relationships with farmers. Strong communication skills came up across the board, but not all buyers required GAPS/food safety certifications or had hard and fast requirements regarding grading/sorting/packaging. In summary, every buyer is unique and most of the success lies in finding the right producer/buyer match and building a relationship. As educators serving in the Baskets to Pallets cohort, we hope to help farmers navigate potential buyers and support steps toward wholesale success. That might mean supporting a producer in achieving better uniformity and consistency, food safety standards, grading/packaging, labeling, or whatever steps are needed to find success in intermediate markets.

So, what’s next for the cohort? We’ll be creating new educational content throughout the Fall in preparation for two regional Baskets to Pallets farmer trainings to take place during the winter months.

Do you have any feedback or ideas for our group? We’d love to hear from you. Reach out to Project Coordinator Violet Stone at or visit the project website.


Welcome to our new installment of Small Farms’ Recommended Reading! Here you’ll find a variety of articles handpicked each week by the Small Farms team. These include resources, educational articles, and tips — all in one location for a quick browse of news in addition to our bimonthly newsletter.

This week we’re reading about the dangers of ornamental plants and weeds to your pets and livestock, groundbreaking research in the benefits of consuming insects as an alternative form of protein, and tips for storing hay. There may be a future in hybrids of conventional and biological fungicides and there are new prosthetics available which can serve farmers better than traditional prosthetics. Finally, don’t sweat it if you didn’t keep up your summer garden; it’s a great time to plant cool weather vegetables.

Do you have reading recommendations? Share with us using our online form.

Livestock and Pet Owners: Be Wary of Your Backyard

Various weeds and ornamental plants will always be dangerous to animals, but this problem can become especially prominent in the dry months as pastures die and weeds thrive. Additionally, common household ornamentals tend to be toxic. View tips and read more.



Insects as an Alternative Form of Protein

Two billion people throughout the world regularly consume insects. University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers studied insect protein consumption and found that gut microbiome health increased, therefore proving that there are benefits beyond being an environmentally friendly alternative protein source. Read more.


Tips for Storing Your Hay

As you store hay cut this summer, consider measuring density — the lower the density, the less spoilage — and removing bales from the field as quickly as possible. Building storage is expensive, but so is the cost of wasted hay. Start to record wasted hay expense to determine if you should consider building storage. Read more.


Future in Mix of Biological and Conventional Chemicals

Traditionally, biological and conventional chemicals were not able to be mixed (and still can’t be combined in the same container), but STK bio-ag technologies may have figured out a way to combine chemicals and leave less residue on crops. Read more.


Prosthetics Created for Farmer-Specific Needs

Farmers require prosthetics that are able to adjust to various terrains, able to withstand dust and chemical residue, and able to adapt for different machinery. Prosthetics are now available with higher sensitivity, components to switch-out with various machinery, and the ability to withstand environmental stresses. Read more.


Cool Weather Crops

Regretting that you didn’t have a garden this summer? It’s not too late! Black Radishes, Rainbow Chard, and Red Russian Kale are some options for cool weather crops that you can plant this August. Read more.

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.


Welcome to our second installment of Small Farms’ Recommended Reading! Here you’ll find a variety of articles handpicked each week by the Small Farms team. These include resources, educational articles, and tips — all in one location for a quick browse of news in addition to our bimonthly newsletter.

This week we’re reading about daylilies — an easy perennial to add to our gardens. We’ve also included a guide to transitioning beef cattle to organic production, recent research on the addition of lime to acidic soils, and why Americans are motivated to purchase convenience food. Additionally, we’ve included resource guides for farmers market managers and local producers, and tips for pork producers to share their story via social media.

Do you have reading recommendations? Share with us using our online form.

Easy Way to Add Color to Your Summer Garden

Due to their 24-hour life span, a large bed of daylilies will greet you with fresh flowers each day. Few diseases and pests affect these flowers and the ability to be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones three through nine make the daylily a practical option for gardeners throughout the northeast. Read more.


Beef Farmer? Considering a switch to organic herd practices?

This NOFA-NY fact sheet allows you to take a quick look at the primary factors in organically produced beef and will help you in making an informed decision regarding whether to transition your herd. Read more.


Plant Phosphorus Uptake: More Complicated Than Just Adding Lime

Lime is often added to acidic soils. However, this “bread and butter” solution alone did not prove significant to phosphorus uptake in plants in an experiment conducted in extremely acidic soils in Western Kenya. Researchers are working to determine whether using lime in quantities necessary for significant difference in plant uptake will result in soil health trade-offs. Read more.


Employment and Time Constraints: Why Americans Continue Choosing Convenience Food

Why are Americans continually choosing “convenience food” (restaurant meals and ready-to-eat meals from grocery stores) rather than preparing home cooked meals? USDA economic researchers found that limited resources, such as time and budget constraints, typically lead people to purchase less nutritious, “convenience food.”  Read more.


Farmers Market Manager? Consider Partnering with Local Faith Communities

This guide for farmers market managers explains the benefit of partnering with communities which typically focus on aiding the food insecure and those in poverty and offers advice on how to approach the partnership to ensure those that need fresh food the most are able to have access. Additionally, the guide provides step-by-step goal planning, an example of creating and working toward goals featuring SNAP benefits, and ends with several case studies for your review. Read more.


Resource Guide to Bring Local Food to Local Institutions

Special events, on-site farmers markets, and employment CSAs are some of the creative ways to bring local food to work and/or educational institutions. Farmers interested in expanding to this form of localized sales can use this guide and reference case studies to explore the option. Read more.


Go Social with Pork Production

Consumers pay attention to social media — a lot of attention. This article gives five reasons and basic tips, such as to keep it simple and “make it a conversation, not just a list of facts,” to become active on social media with your pork production. Read more.

Welcome to our first installment of Small Farms’ Recommended Reading! Here you’ll find a variety of articles handpicked each week by the Small Farms team.  These will include resources, educational articles, and tips — all in one location for a quick browse of news in addition to our bimonthly newsletter.

This week we’re reading about the future of fruits and vegetables: will the supermarkets of the future contain apples with colored flesh? We’ve also included a guide to producing maple syrup in the northeast, a guide to producing and marketing organic grains, and greenhouse alternatives to growing horticultural crops. Additional articles include entomological resources for pulse crop producers, and and tips to keep your flock of chickens happy and healthy this summer.

Do you have reading recommendations? Share with us using our online form.

Fruit and Veggies of the Future: Greater Nutrient Content?

The future of the supermarket could be fruits and vegetables laden with vitamins and minerals. Gene editing via CRISPR-CAS9, without the addition of new genes (as done in genetically modified organisms) allows scientists to tweak genes within fruits and vegetables.For example, rather than the skin of an apple providing most of the nutritional value, a new apple could have colored flesh that contains even more nutrients. Read more.


Sweet Option to Diversify Farms

Maple syrup production is difficult to use as a standalone source of income, but farmers in the Northeast may want to consider it as an option to diversify their farm and draw in potential customers. This guide discusses basic knowledge of production, considerations, financing, and alternate sources of sugaring other than maple trees. Read more.


Potential Solution to Eastern Horticultural Struggles

Eastern producers of horticultural crops face more challenges than Western producers — pests, diseases, and cosmetic issues combine for a less marketable crop. High tunnels could provide a solution for Eastern producers to combat the pests and diseases. Read more.



How to Produce and Market Organic Grains

An increasing demand annually for organic grains, for both human and livestock consumption, has resulted in an increased market. Details such as buyer contracts and grain elevators equipped to deal with organic crops are vital to successfully market and sell organic grains. This guide explains basic steps to take if considering organic grain production. Read more.


Pulse Insect Problems?  Worry No More. 

A new resource for growers of pulse crops worldwide! The July issue of the “Annals of the Entomological Society of America” features nine articles dedicated to pulse crop pests. The knowledge is garnered from the 2017 Meeting of the Entomological Society of America. Read more. 



Summertime Flock Health

Chickens are extremely sensitive to heat and can health concerns and decreases in productivity. Follow these tips to keep your flock happy, healthy, and productive this summer. Read more. 


Cornell Small Farms Program is excited to announce the expansion of our team with two new additions, Nicole and Kacey. Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator, Nicole, supports SFP’s dedication to providing guidance and resources to those entering careers in farming and to those in the formative years of a newly started farms in New York State. She is specifically working with the Labor Ready Farmer project and the Farm Ops: Veterans in Agriculture project. As Communications Specialist, Kacey will be increasing visibility of SFP’s work and telling valuable stories from those that we serve. Her work will include communications, design, multimedia and more as SFP invests further in outreach strategies.

Learn more about Nicole and Kacey below:

Raised locally in Freeville, NY, Nicole joined the Small Farms Program in 2018. Her work focuses on supporting beginning farmer projects throughout the Small Farms Program. A diverse background of experiences enhances her work coordinating efforts to support farm employees and beginning farmers. Post-graduation from SUNY Albany in 2004, Nicole was certified as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) in Sevilla, Spain. Upon returning to the U.S., she co-taught English lessons at a dairy farm and took a part-time position at a local winery. The part-time winery position led to a degree in enology and a six-year career as an assistant winemaker in the Finger Lakes region. She has spent the last six years coordinating grant-funded projects and supporting international students seeking graduate degrees. Nicole’s free time is spent with her son, Sawyer, who shares a passion for canoeing, camping and hiking NYS forests.


As the Small Farms Program’s first dedicated communications specialist, Kacey will work to build a storytelling and outreach strategy across the website, social media, this newsletter, and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for a decade, with specialties in science and sustainability. An Upstate New York native, Kacey received her undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Environmental Studies from Ithaca College. She is excited to return to the community she has always called home, and hopes to start a small farm of her own.

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