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Thursday, August 24, 2017, 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County is offering a hands-on, on-farm experience to aide in understanding how to determine quality and grade of agricultural products. This session is designed to prepare farms in NY, both beginning and experienced, to enter new markets.

Learn how to grade vegetables and package for different markets. Hand-on training with peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. This workshop will take place at Catskill Cattle Co (located in Deposit, NY).

The field day is open to 25 participants; preference given to active or retired NYS Military Veterans on a first-come, first-served basis. Veterans may apply for stipend to cover cost of attending. For more information or to apply contact Laura Biasillo, CCE Broome County at (607) 584-5007 or email

Fee: $15/person or $20/farm

To register, visit the website at:

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

By Claire Collie

For over fourteen years, Massachusetts Avenue Project’s (MAP) Growing Green program on Buffalo’s west side has employed young people, teaching them how to grow food and make positive changes in our local food system. The organization began as a single lot community garden, and has grown to an urban farm spanning 13 lots, with a high tunnel and greenhouse. By next growing season, MAP’s Farmhouse & Community Good Training Center will be complete, housing a commercial kitchen, dry and cold storage, classroom, and office space. This new space will open up opportunities to educate more people on food production and ways we can improve our food system.

A major goal at MAP is to simply show young people what food looks like when it is growing. Farm Education Coordinator Claire and MAP youth employees explore what’s growing. Photo taken by Birch Kinsey.

Produce grown on our urban farm is sold on our mobile market, a small, refrigerated box truck covered in veggie people. Our mobile market travels to neighborhoods in Buffalo that are food deserts – areas where fresh, affordable food is not available. Young people are involved at all steps – from crop production on the farm, to processing and prepping food for market, to the market itself and interacting with customers. Teenagers get to experience as many stages in our local food system as possible, so they become aware of the hard work it takes to produce food crops, the knowledge it takes to feed us, and their ability to make positive change. We work with a diverse group of young people. Some come from cultures in which maintaining a large kitchen garden in the backyard is common. For others, working on MAP’s urban farm is their first exposure to seeing what food actually looks like before it’s chopped, ground, baked or cooked. So, a major goal is to simply show young people what food looks like when it is growing….

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Cornell Cooperative Extension team up to host 2017 Building the Agricultural Intellect of the Finger Lakes Youth Career Day.

By RJ Anderson

From dairy robotics and precision farming technology to the chemistry of wine making and integrated pest management, jobs in agriculture dot a diverse and varied career map in the Finger Lakes. Helping area high school students navigate ag-related vocational opportunities was goal of the 2017 Building the Agricultural Intellect of the Finger Lakes Youth Career Day April 26.

High school students enrolled in the Finger Lakes Technical and Career Center animal science program participate in a workshop hosted by Keseca Veterinary Clinic at Hemdale Farms in Seneca Castle, New York.

A collaboration among the Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board, Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) and Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Ontario, Wayne, Seneca and Yates Counties, the second annual event brought together 220 high school students from 17 Finger Lakes-area school districts.

Featuring field trips to the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York, the Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) Viticulture Center and Hemdale Farms, a high-tech dairy with a robotic milking parlor and high-volume vegetable growing operation, the event paired ag-minded high school students with experts from Cornell, FLCC, SUNY Cobleskill and professionals from the private sector. Each location included additional exhibitors, including Fowler Farms, SUNY Cobleskill, CCE, Finger Lakes Technical and Career Center, Farm Credit East, Keseca Veterinary Clinic and Lakeland Equipment…..

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

by Brian Caldwell and Ryan Maher

Organic mulches like hay or straw can suppress weeds and improve soil.  They are used by many small scale vegetable farmers, but the cost of the material and application may be prohibitive for larger operations.  However, there may be ways around this obstacle.  In recent years, organic grain farmers and the Rodale Institute successfully pioneered a practice of using rolled/crimped rye cover crops as mulchesgrown in-situ for soybeans.  What can organic vegetable growers in the Northeast learn from this approach?

Following up on farmer efforts, researchers at Penn State and Cornell University codified the practice.  It is often referred to as “Cover Crop-Based, Organic Rotational No-Till”.  When winter rye is planted in mid-September in NY, it produces heavy biomass of 7500+ lb/acre, sufficient to suppress weeds when laid down in place as a mulch.

Fig. 1: Front-mounted roller/crimper.

In late spring, when the plants are tall and in flower, they are run over with a roller-crimper (Fig. 1), which knocks them down and kills them.  Then, a heavy no-till planter is used to seed soybeans at a high density of about 250,000 seeds per acre, parallel to and in the same direction as the rolled rye.  In fact, this can be done in one operation, with the roller/crimper on the front of the tractor and the planter behind.  Usually, no weed cultivation is needed.  Research plot soybean yields using this method are generally as good as or better than those of conventionally-tilled organic treatments.

For a fuller discussion, please see this article from the Cornell Sustainable Cropping Systems Lab.

Organic corn plantings have had less consistent success on both research and commercial farms.  Whereas soybeans fix their own nitrogen, corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder. The soil often cannot supply enough N for both a heavy rye crop and subsequent corn plants.   Attempts to remedy this by using hairy vetch mixtures as roll-crimped, N-supplying cover crops have given variable results, sometimes with poor weed suppression and low corn yields…..

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

by Rich Taber

At the time of this writing in early May, I look out the window onto a green, awakening landscape, with the sun trying to deliver its warm rays to kick start the green up process via photosynthesis.  I think of those approaching warmer sunny summer days, and all of the hay I will be putting up for my livestock this coming year, and also grazing.  I think of those beautiful green fields of pasture lands and hay lands that those grasses grow on, and of all the effort, inputs, and money it will take to keep them healthy and producing well.

Cattle grazing on pastureland. Often grazing lands are neglected, with no inputs being returned to the land.

In my work with many new and beginning farmers, I also think of “The Green Lie, Version Two.” “The Green Lie,”  Version One, is a term coined by a forestry colleague of mine, that refers to woodlots that have been pillaged of all their good timber trees, leaving only stunted, weedy species growing, with no planning for the future and leaving behind a ravaged woodlot, and frequently with impeded or nonexistent regeneration of young tree seedlings.  From a distance though, after such logging jobs occur, you can still see green trees growing, the birds are twittering, and all looks deceptively well; “The Green Lie” if you will. The woods are still there, right? In many peoples’ minds, when looking at such woodlots, all must be well. But wait, what’s all this about a “lie?” Hear me out!…

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

The USDA Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is  offering free Fecal Egg Count (FEC) analysis to assist with selective breeding for resistance to gastrointestinal worms.


Ø National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP) members wanting to generate Estimated Breeding Values (EBV) for parasite resistance.

  • Free for new NSIP members or current NSIP members that have not been generating EBVs for parasite resistance. We hope to be able to offer a reduced rate for FEC to NSIP members that have previously generated EBVs for parasite resistance.
  • Producers must have the ability to obtain and ship fecal samples from their animals once or twice at least 4 weeks apart following NSIP recommendations.
  • Fecal egg counts can be conducted for all young stock whose data is being submitted to NSIP for analysis. On a case-by-case basis, FECs will be available for animals in early lactation.
  • For more information on the benefits of membership in NSIP please visit or contact the NSIP Program Director, Rusty Burgett, (


Ø Non-NSIP members living in New England, NY, NJ, PA, WV, MD, DE o Have a history of problems with gastrointestinal nematode worms.

  • Are FAMACHA certified (online training program is available).
  • Are willing to share FAMACHA scores as well as general herd/flock information/history.
  • Have the ability to obtain and ship fecal samples from your animals once or twice at least 4 weeks apart.
  • To allow us to provide this service to the maximum number of producers we are focusing the FEC testing on young replacement animals. On a case-by-case basis, FECs will be available for animals in early lactation.

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

By Lisa Coven

Last spring, NYSERDA launched the Agriculture Energy Audit Program. The Program offers farms and on-farm producers no-cost energy audits.  No up-front costs are required form the farmer as NYSERDA pays the consultant directly.  Three levels of audits are offered.  The level II audit adheres to ANSI/ASABE S612 standards and can be submitted with EQIP applications or to other third parties for funding consideration.

Audits are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The program runs through the end of the 2017 or until funds are expended.  For general information or to request flyers for your office call 800-732-1399 or email  To discuss the program further or contact the Program Manager, Lisa Coven, at extension 839 or

Applications available at

Read the rest of the article here.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

by Ulf Kintzel

“What do I need when I start?” It is a question that is posed to me often. The almost inevitable follow-up question almost always is “Where do I get it”? I figured I should compile a list of items that one needs and while I am at it, also state where to get it. I remember how difficult I found it to figure out where to source various times when I first started out. This list should be helpful.  I will not get into much detail about each item since this would go beyond the scope of this article. However, if you want to read about it in depth you may find your answer in one of the comprehensive articles I wrote for Small Farm Quarterly over the years, which almost certainly address any item or subject I touch in this article; all nicely compiled on my website under “articles” here.

Please note that I don’t have any financial interest in any of the companies or their products that I will mention. I merely will state my preference of where I purchase my supplies. Call them up if you don’t have Internet access. They all send you a free catalog. Furthermore, this is part one of two. The second part will be published three months from now, which will leave you time to ask for the source of a specific item on the commentary page. I will include any relevant info if it wasn’t already included in the second part of the article.

First, I will start with some general information about companies that offer supply for sheep farming. On that list is Premier One Supplies, 800-282-6631.  In my view, the company tends to be on the high end of prices compared to others. However, their free shipping policy can at times make an item competitive or cheaper if you spend enough money to get over their $100 threshold for free-shipping. Aside from that, this company carries a few items that no other US-based company seems to carry or not at that quality. For instance, I get my leg crook there, although you can always get the leg crook attachment at other places and mount it on a handle. I also order my customized scrapie ear tags from their wide variety of choices.

For fencing needs I can recommend Kencove, 800-536-2683. It isn’t specifically a company catering to sheep farmers, but is a good source if you are an able fence builder yourself. I like their clip-on plastic electric fence signs that I found nowhere else….

Read the rest of the article here.

If you are taking some time to get out of the heat this summer, go online and check out USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s improved  online census questionnaire demonstration site. “Responding to the census will be easier than ever before in December. It is our hope that producers will become familiar with the online census questionnaire demo this summer, like it, and return to report online when responding to the Census of Agriculture later this year,” said NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater.  The updated online questionnaire, which will go live late fall, will be accessible on any electronic device. New features save time by calculating totals automatically and skipping questions that do not pertain to the respondent’s operation.  While on the Census of Agriculture website, explore the census introduction video, view a video of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue talking about the 2017 Census of Agriculture,   see some examples of how census data are used, access frequently asked questions, and explore past and current data. And if you want to help promote the 2017 Census of Agriculture among your friends, colleagues and neighbors, see the partner tools.

This article was featured in the Summer 2017 Quarterly.

For those who could not attend, a brief recap of several of meetings across ENY Liz Higgins of the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP) held to discuss the reality of hunting and gathering funding for starting or expanding ag businesses.

By Liz Higgins and Sandy Buxton, Cornell Cooperative Extension

My phone rings on a regular basis with a future client asking questions about grants available to help them start farming. Unfortunately, the answer to that question is often not what they want to hear.

There is no such thing as free money. And money which may appear free, rarely is. A business owner must choose a funding source which complements the business and does not create a distraction or drive the business in a direction outside of the business plan.

Several months ago, Liz Higgins of the Eastern New York Commercial Horticulture Program (ENYCHP) held several of meetings across ENY to discuss the reality of hunting and gathering funding for starting or expanding ag businesses. While many wannabe or expanding farmers seek grant money, it is rarely the boon they hope for…

Read the rest of the article here.

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