Cornell Small Farms Program Serving small farmers in NY and the Northeast 2014-09-30T15:55:27Z Cornell Blogs Service Sarah Diana Nechamen <![CDATA[Pawpaw Production Workshop]]> 2014-09-30T15:55:27Z 2014-09-30T15:55:27Z Read More]]> Have you ever thought of growing pawpaws? Pawpaw is a native fruit with a tropical-like flavor that has been described as a cross between a banana, mango and pineapple. They are rarely found in markets because the fruit is damaged easily when ripe. Steve Gabriel from the Cornell Small Farms Program and owner of Wellspring Forest Farm will be presenting a pawpaw production workshop, covering such topics as pawpaw management, site selection, and sourcing pawpaw trees. You can register online at or contact Derek Simmonds at 315-539-9251 or Cost is $15 per family.

When? November 6, 2014. 6:30-8:30pm

Where? Vince’s Park, Seneca Falls NY, Intersection of Rt 318 and Rts 5+20

Sarah Diana Nechamen <![CDATA[Margin Protection Program for Dairy Webinar]]> 2014-09-23T15:55:29Z 2014-09-23T15:55:29Z Read More]]> Dairy farmers can learn more about the USDA margin protection program (MPP-Dairy) during a webinar through Cornell Cooperative Extension Oneida County. The first session will run from 10am – 12pm, the second from 1-3pm, and the final from 7-9pm. The goal is to introduce the MPP-Dairy program to dairy farmers and explain how it works in protecting dairy profit margins using national data including an all milk price and calculations for input feed costs. For registration or further information, contact Marylynn Collins or Bonnie Collins at Cornell Extension Oneida County in Oriskany. Their phone number is 315-736-3394 ext. 132 and extension 104 respectively.

Sarah Diana Nechamen <![CDATA[Certification Trainings for Beef Quality Assurance]]> 2014-09-18T13:46:27Z 2014-09-18T13:46:27Z Read More]]> There will be 9 BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) certification trainings available through out New York in October (1 in September). Our goal is to certify or re-certify 100 producers. There will be a drawing for a $250 gift certificate to use at your veterinary clinic and 2  bags of minerals.  Thanks to Boehringer Ingelheim and Kent Feeds for their support. In addition Merial will provide a certificate for animal health products for everyone that attends.

If you are not certified or need to be re-certified, please plan to attend and bring a neighbor with you. A complete listing and additional information can be found at  Meeting_List_BQA_Month.

Note that per-registration is required

As a producer of beef BQA certification, you provide an assurance to consumers that you are using good management practices to to strengthen consumer confidence in Beef.  

——-NY Beef Quality Assurance Advisory Committee

Sarah Diana Nechamen <![CDATA[Hands-on Mozzarella Class]]> 2014-09-18T13:37:32Z 2014-09-18T13:37:32Z Read More]]> Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cortland County will offer a cheese workshop at Trinity Valley farm store and bakery for anyone interested in learning to make cheese at home. This is a “hands on” workshop; we will break up into teams of two and each team will make a batch of cheese during the workshop, lead by Thomas Pinello of Lively Run Goat Dairy. The class costs $30 per person, and will be capped at 14 students.

Location: Trinity Valley Store & Bakery 2847 Rt 13 Cortland, NY
Date: Tuesday, September 30th from 6PM – 8 PM

Registration and pre-payment is required for this course. Please visit to register, or type into google “south central new york mozzarella event” to find the registration page. You can also call the Cornell Cooperative Extension office at 607-753-5078 and pay via check.

Sarah Diana Nechamen <![CDATA[Farmer Landowner Match Program]]> 2014-09-12T17:30:34Z 2014-09-12T17:30:34Z Read More]]> Are you looking for farmland to start a new operation, or for land to diversify and expand an existing farm? If so, the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) has a program tailored just for you. It is the Farmer Landowner Match Program, an initiative that connects landowners seeking to have their land farmed with farmers seeking land.

Since its inception in 2008, this Match Program has grown its database to more than 200 active participants. And it isn’t just for Columbia County residents. In mid-2013, CLC established a partnership with the Dutchess Land Conservancy to serve farmers and landowners across both counties. Today, CLC can comfortably say that this successful initiative has helped dozens of hard-working farmers get established or diversify their business.

“It is thanks to CLC that I am here,” says David Rowley, owner of Monkshood Nursery in Stuyvesant, NY. “And it is thanks to CLC that you are here,” he turns to the owner of Ardith Mae farm, Shereen Alignaghain who leases the barn from David. Theirs is a Match story and more!

First, David was leasing land to grow his organic vegetables. Then the opportunity came for him to purchase the farm, so he worked with CLC and an organization called Scenic Hudson to conserve the land as farmland, which allowed the sale price to reflect the agricultural value of the property rather than the development value. So David became the owner of Monkshood Nursery. He erected several large greenhouses and he was cultivating the land’s rich soils, but he had no use for the large barn, a remnant of a cow dairy.

That’s when CLC’s Marissa Codey, conservation & agricultural programs manager, approached David about a possible match. Shereen Alignaghain of Pennsylvania was moving to Columbia County with her dairy goats. At first Shereen was hesitant: “It is hard to farm together unless we have a very similar approach, and have similar goals.” Turns out the two farmers’ goals are not only compatible, but they often work and strategize together. “Marissa knew better than me what I needed,” admits Shereen. She incorporates David’s herbs and shoots in her cheeses, David helps with fine-tuning the barn for her animals, and together they plan to expand their farms to add a licensed organic kitchen – with Shereen’s license and David’s vegetables. “This is a great match,” confirms Shereen, whose Ardith Mae Farm now calls the large barn a home.

After seven years in existence, the strength of the Match Program is in becoming well known within the farmer community, so many farmers find out about this great opportunity through word of mouth.

For example, Schuyler and Colby Gail looked for suitable farmland through conventional real estate for six long years without success. They were raising animals on Schuyler’s grandmother’s land in Rensselaer County. Then one of their friends mentioned CLC’s Farmer Landowner Match Program, and what a big help it was for them. Schuyler and Colby got on the phone, and within months CLC matched them with an ideal 20 acre parcel in New Lebanon. This was back in 2012. ”We had 40 requirements that we felt a good property had to have, we really did,” remembers Schuyler, “and the only one it didn’t have was the potential for hydropower.” The match was exactly the jumpstart they were looking for. And Climbing Tree Farm was born.

The Gails now own those rolling 20 acres, and are leasing an adjacent 370-acre forested parcel to run Climbing Tree Farm, an innovative silvo-culture operation. They are proud to keep their kids in touch with the land and livestock. “They know what work is, and they know where food comes from,” says Schuyler. “It is a good life for a kid.” “It is a good life for a grown-up too,” adds Colby.  As much as it is a work in progress, Climbing Tree Farm is also a true success story – it is sustainable financially and environmentally, and affords the Gail family a life all four of them embrace. CLC is proud to have provided the resource that laid the groundwork for the Gails’ success.

Of course, not every match happens as fast as the Gails’. Both the landowners and the farmers can spend significant time, sometimes years, interviewing potential partners before both are comfortable enough to feel their goals will be met. Each case is unique, and CLC works with participants to help them with their individual needs.

Over the course of two years, landowners Joe and Carla Brancato of East Chatham met with several farmers before they felt their property would achieve its potential in the hands of Kim and Tom Kubisek. The land used to be a dairy farm, and Joe wanted to return it to a working landscape. As an architect, he put a lot of work into resuscitating the neglected barn – which is now home to lactating sows and their piglets on the lower level, and provides storage for livestock feed on the main level – then erected a shed / chicken coop for their laying hens, and has been heavily involved in developing the infrastructure of the budding operation called Rolling Creek Farm.

The Kubiseks have been tirelessly growing this farm for the last three years, and this fall they will proudly make their first pork, beef, and poultry contribution to a CSA – displaying brand new ‘Rolling Creek Farm’ labels that Joe and Carla Brancato had designed. What kind of farm did it become? Because the landowner – farmer partners are not afraid to try anything, they now have beef cows, some of them Aberdeeen Angus, several Tanworth cross breeding pigs, meat birds including chickens and turkeys, laying hens, a growing vegetable garden, a pumpkin patch, and even two grateful rescue horses the Kubiseks brought over from their previous farm. Carla Brancato and Kim Kubisek are cooking up plans to add strawberry jam to their CSA deliveries. Oh, yes, and they also planted apple and peach trees a few years back that will bear their first fruit this fall. And who knows, if you stop by, you might find them caring for new livestock we did not get to meet at our visit. “If it wasn’t for CLC, this match wouldn’t have happened” are Joe’s parting words as we leave the farm behind.

Behind the success of CLC’s matches is the Conservancy’s close attention to the needs of every participant in their Farmer Landowner Match Program, and a personal involvement in the introductions of potential farmer-landowner partners. The Conservancy welcomes interest from all farmers and from Columbia or Dutchess County landowners as it grows its Match Program database. To find out more about how this program can help you start or expand your farm, please contact CLC’s Marissa Codey at or 518.392.5252, ext 211.

Sara Hart is the communications manager at Columbia Land Conservancy in Chatham, NY. She can be reached at or 518.392.5252, ext. 214.

0 <![CDATA[Small Farm Grants Program]]> 2014-09-11T15:42:50Z 2014-09-11T15:37:21Z Read More]]> 2013 Small Farm Grant Projects

Unfortunately, the Small Farms Program was unable to secure funding to support a 2013 small grants program.  We hope to reinstate this program in 2014.   An extensive library of small farm funding opportunities can be found at

2012 Small Farm Grant Projects

Each year, the Cornell Small Farms Program awards grants of 3-5K to organizations in New York that present compelling projects that will serve and support small farms. In 2012, four proposals were selected. An additional project to support a small dairy field day series summer, 2012 was also  funded.

Chenango Regional Video and Social Media Grazing Outreach Program

This project was led by Ken Smith, CCE of Chenango County. The purpose of the project was to provide grazing farmers with information on grazing best practices, and to create forums where grazing farmers can share questions or successes with other farmers or agricultural educators. 12 short videos of grazing best practices from around the region were developed and shared through websites and social media platforms. In these videos, grazing farmers and educators share best practice examples of grazing topics such as watering systems, laneways, permanent fencing systems, portable fencing systems, pasture growth measurement systems, shade and nutrient management, and other grazing topics.   Read project successes, outcomes and lessons learned in this short report.  To view the videos, visit and scroll down to “Featured Playlists”.

Assessing Local Foods Distribution Systems: Farmer Experiences and Models for Building Successful Farmer-Distributor Relationships

This project was led by Monica Roth of CCE Tompkins County and Becca Jablonski a PhD. Candidate in City & Regional Planning. The project was a continuation of a study funded by the Cornell Small Farms program where NY Distribution Companies were interviewed to assess their experiences with purchasing from NY Farmers. A total of 19 companies were interviewed and profiles developed.  This second part of the project consisted of interviews with farmers that sell to these distribution companies to assess their experiences selling to NY distribution companies. The goal was to identify what farmers need to do to comply with distributor purchasing requirements, how it impacts marketing practices, cost of marketing, risk management, product pricing, and overall farm viability. The aim was to be able to better inform small farmers about how to successfully conduct wholesale sales and gather some benchmark data about impacts of wholesale sales on small farms.  Read project successes, outcomes and lessons learned in this short report.  In addition, you can download the survey used to poll farmers and a compilation of the survey results.

Promoting Workplace CSA in the Southern Adirondacks

This project was led by Laura McDermott, CCE CDVSFP Regional Agriculture Educator and Teresa Whalen, Adirondack Harvest Southern Chapter Coordinator. This project sought to help businesses and community centers within the greater Glens Falls region investigate the feasibility of sponsoring a CSA. The southern Adirondack region (the counties of Warren, Washington and Saratoga) has many fruit and vegetable farms and successful Farmers’ markets. Expanding non‐traditional markets, such as the business CSA, is one method to assist local growers in finding new marketing outlets. A series of promotional events, surveys, farmer/business/and consumer meeting trialed the best approach to developing this model.  Read project successes, outcomes and lessons learned in this short report.  Download the “CSA in the Workplace” supplemental materials generated by the project to adapt for your region!

| BrochurePowerpoint Presentation | Factsheet |

Bringing the sheep goat marketing website back home

This project focused on modernizing and updating the popular marketing directory located at Project leaders Michael Thonney and tatiana Stanton, from the Cornell Animal Science Department, reinstated an interactive producer listing useful to direct marketers, market pools, buyers and distributers. The site has additional educational resources on marketing and processing. Renovating the website has helped identify new markets and will facilitate communication between producers and buyers.  Read project successes, outcomes and lessons learned in this short report.

Dairy Innovation Field Days

Six individual field days were held between June 1st and September 20th in regions across the state on dairy farms milking under 100 head. Field days highlighted innovative production or marketing strategies that represent new opportunities to enhance small dairy viability in NY. To view the schedule, visit

0 <![CDATA[Story Share]]> 2014-09-11T15:45:58Z 2014-09-11T15:24:33Z Read More]]> Welcome to our Story Share page!  Attendees in the Telling Better Stories Workshop have submitted articles and photos to show off their new journalism and multi-media skills.  Thanks to everyone for your submissions!

Article Submissions

Anaerobic Digesters, by Elizabeth Newbold
Willow: A New Old Cropby Marilee Williams
Telling Better Stories Workshop, by Amy Halloran
New York Farm Viability Institute Continues to Help Organic Dairies Achieve Their Goalsby Tessa Buratto

Any Help at All Would Have Been Better Than the Help I Have Got, by Jan Andrews
Salutations Anyone?  by Troy Bishopp
Who’s Eating all the Chickens?  by Joan Kark-Wren
Internships are Rewarding for Students and Farms, by Nancy Glazier
Growers Credit NY Berry Project for Successful Start-Up, by Kara Lynn Dunn

Photo Submissions

Sunflowers, by Terri Dinitto

Tame Horses, by John Suscovich

A carpet of moss, by Troy Bishopp

Morning dew on clover, by Troy Bishopp

Dancing dewdrops, by Troy Bishopp

Fawnwood Farm corn planting, by Valerie Walthert

0 <![CDATA[Telling Better Stories]]> 2014-09-11T15:45:17Z 2014-09-11T15:19:28Z Read More]]> Journalism Training for Small Farm Educators

Videos, handouts, and PowerPoints from the workshop are provided below.   Photos and articles submitted by attendees featuring their new writing and photography skills are posted on our Story Share page here.

Workshop 1a: Focus on Fact-Finding (Nuts & Bolts Track)
Learn how to gather facts to make your stories informative and interesting. Bring your topics to the table and we’ll brainstorm together on public factual resources at your fingertips. Evaluating the information you gather is the most important part of any reporter’s search strategy. We’ll explore techniques for validity checks. Facts are what fill the stories about small farms and excite readers (and listeners). The specifics, the details, the nitty gritty. From using more first personal observational methods to satellite images from Google Maps, you will gain new ideas for fact finding and new skills in  using internet search tools such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  Workshop leader:  Jill D. Swenson  Workshop Handout | Instructor Bio 

Workshop 1b: Can you Picture It?  (Multi-media Track)
Photos: the Most Valuable Tool in Your Communications Arsenal
A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure the photographs you are taking or using tell a good story. In this work shop we will go over basic photography techniques, free editing and organizational tools, and how to use them effectively. Workshop leader and professional photographer, John Suscovich, will share examples of photographs he has taken while working on the farm, looking at techniques such as framing, perspective, and lighting.  We’ll also talk about how to use photographs to enhance written narrative. As an interactive group activity we will view and discuss several photographs, taken on farm, to pick out the strengths and weaknesses. Attendees are invited to bring 1-2 photographs of their own for group discussion.  Workshop leader:  John Suscovich  Video of Session | Link to Instructor’s Web Pages | Workshop Handout | Powerpoint Instructor Bio

Workshop 2a: Show AND Tell (Nuts & Bolts Track)
How to Make a Story Both Compelling AND Informative
Mud. Tractors. Escaped Cows. Hailstorms. Amber waves of grain. Readers love learning about farming, and the work that farmers do to make sure the rest of us are well fed. But making that story compelling and interesting means getting off the phone or e-mail and going to the farm. Drawing on his background in local newspaper reporting on agricultural issues and also as a vegetable farmer, Aaron will give a sense of how to not only how to interview and glean interesting information from busy farmers, but also how to conduct interviews when they may be too busy to sit down. In addition, he’ll discuss finding the most interesting parts of a story and using that to create a lead to a story or article. Finally, he’ll discuss how to show readers what the farmer is doing instead of telling readers about it, using techniques like dialogue, description, and action.  Workshop leader:  Aaron Munzer Workshop Handout | Instructor Bio 

Workshop 2b: Do You Hear What I Hear?  (Multi-media Track)
Basics of Podcast and Audio Clip Production
Some stories are better received out loud.  A study performed by “eMarketer” projects that by the end of 2013 there will be 37.6 million people who download podcasts monthly, more than double the 2008 figure of 17.4 million. In this intro session to audio communications, you’ll learn about basic equipment and editing software needed to produce audio clips and podcasts.  We’ll listen to a few farmer-themed podcast examples and talk about the components needed to prepare, record, edit and produce an engaging audio clip.   Learn how to conduct an interview or create a script, add music or other sound layers, convert to accessible sound formats and get your audio stories out to the public!  Workshop leader:  John Suscovich
Video of Session | Workshop Handout | Powerpoint |  Instructor Bio 

Workshop 3a: Interviews, Quotes, and Writing Dialogue Style (Nuts & Bolts Track)
Learn who to interview to make your story interesting to readers, how to prepare questions in advance to get the best leads, and how to write up your interview when you return from the field.  Who you interview depends on the questions you’ve got to ask. Who provides you with answers also depends upon who they are and what motives they may have in going “on the record” for a magazine article. Eyewitnesses, participants, first-hand experts in the farm practices, and farmers made for good interview sources. There may also be institutional sources  in business, government or the non-profit sector who can answer your questions. Asking the right person the right question is the role of the writer. Planning your interview in advance is a technique you’ll learn more about in this practical workshop. The mechanics of journalism writing style for quotations and attribution will be covered; including grammar and punctuation. Finding the right characters and voices to include in your research and reporting will lead you to the heart of the story. And help you identify the most powerful quotes from your interview. This hands-on workshop involves using examples of actual interviews, quotes, and attribution of sources.  Workshop leader:  Jill D. Swenson Workshop Handout 1 Handout 2 | Instructor Bio 

Workshop 3b:  Reincarnation: Adapting Your Story for  Multiple Audiences (Multi-media Track)
 The stories you tell as a writer have immeasurable value and can often be adapted to many different audiences. Learn how to find a story, craft it to fit an audience from a specific venue, and then keep it alive by reshaping it for other outlets. In this session, you’ll also learn to find different stories within a single interview, and then to take these on the road to different writing outlets. Finally, you’ll discover how to find magazines and other venues to pitch your work to, and then to use this knowledge to extend the reach of your writing.  Workshop leader: Kara Cusolito  Worksheet |  Instructor Bio

Workshop 4. Big ideas. Small words. Short sentences.
What Online Readers Want, and How to Write for Them
Today’s readers don’t read – they scan.  To reach them, you need the content they want and you need to present it in a style that they can easily digest.  This session will include easy writing and design tips you can put to work immediately to make your websites, social media, newsletters and other publications more user-friendly.  Workshop leader:  Craig Cramer  Video of Session | Instructor Bio 

Sarah Diana Nechamen <![CDATA[NESAWG’s “It Takes a Region Conference”]]> 2014-09-09T16:03:57Z 2014-09-09T16:03:57Z What does it take to make our food system strong, resilient and region-sized? What does real collaboration and cooperation look like? Explore these questions at NESAWG’s “It Takes a Region Conference” on November 11-12. The keynote speaker will be national radio commentator, writer, public speaker, and New York Times best-selling author Jim Hightower.

Learn more at

Sarah Diana Nechamen <![CDATA[Farmer-Veteran Documentary]]> 2014-09-02T14:46:08Z 2014-09-02T14:46:08Z Ground Operations is a documentary film and social action campaign that champions the growing network of combat veterans who are transitioning into careers as sustainable farmers, ranchers and artisan food producers. Visit their website to learn more and watch the documentary’s trailer: