Cornell Small Farms Program Update- Winter 2012

Message from the Managing Editor
This year we are celebrating a decade of bringing you Small Farm Quarterly!  We certainly have seen an explosion of growth in homesteads, micro-enterprises, and small farms over the past ten years here in the Northeast.  From backyard chickens to farm dinners, the revival in small-scale food production is reconnecting people to the land and contributing toward the growth of healthy, thriving rural economies.

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen over the past decade is a rising interest from the youth farming generation.  Thanks to the Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program through the US Department of Agriculture, organizations to facilitate the technical training and foster enthusiasm of this generation are sprouting up all across the country.  I encourage you to read “Slaughter Daughter” by Lindsay Debach in this issue – a personal reflection of a young woman’s full circle appreciation for her father’s craft as the owner of a small slaughter facility.  I think this story is representative of many in this next generation of farmers.  Rural youth often leave their communities only to realize their admiration for the skill and perserverance of the farmers and food entrepreneurs back home.

You’ll notice a few new features in the magazine this year.  A new column titled “Book Nook” will suggest interesting reads on a topic relevant to small farmers.  Also new this year is a “Photo Essay” feature bringing you images of the season.  How does the expression go?  ‘Sometimes an image can say one thousand words?’

What do you think?  As always, we love to hear from you.  Drop us a line anytime!

Best wishes,

Winter Online Courses for Beginning Farmers Open for Registration
The long dark days of winter are the perfect time to dream and plan for the next growing season, and if you’re already farming, to organize your records and look back at how last season went. We offer several online courses to help you with this. From this site you can see our full calendar of courses, learn more about our instructors, see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, read details for each course, and even visit a sample online course. Courses often fill very quickly, so don’t miss your chance to sign up today!

Help us Help You! Beginning Farmer Barrier Id Survey – Phase 2
Phase 2 has finally opened!  This survey is for both beginning farmers (including youth as young as 10!) AND service providers.   The information gathered in this (and Phase 1) of the Beginning Farmer Barrier ID survey will be freely shared with beginning farmer service organizations throughout the nation, and will help inform future programs, grant applications, and events.   Please help by taking a few minutes to respond to the survey and share widely with your fellow growers or educators.

More information about the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project and our work is available.  Thank you so much for your time and help!

Grazing Dairy Production Recordbook
If you are a grazing dairy, a new resource is available to help you make daily notes about milk production, grazing rotation, grain and forage feeding, weather and herd health through the entire year.  The tool is intended to help highlight which management practices work best on your farm.  This can only be done with teamwork, so use the recordbook to provide benchmarks of performance during discussions with your nutritionist, vet, other consultants, partners, family or employees.  To order a free copy, send an email to The book was developed by the NYS Grazing Lands Conversation Initiative in collaboration with the Cornell Small Dairy Project Team and the South Central NY Dairy and Field Crops Program.

Sustainable Farm Energy ‘Virtual Tours’ Posted Online!
Many of you weren’t able to attend the series of Sustainable Farm Energy Field Days we hosted last Fall.   Over 120 people gathered on four farms around New York that featured small-scale solar electric, solar thermal, wind, grease-power, and many other energy saving/producing technologies. We all took home ideas about how to become more energy self-sufficient and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.   A virtual tour of each farm is now available in the form of a photo essay.

Violet Stone

Violet's work focuses on creating retreats, workshops and programs for the agricultural community centered on themes of connection, wellness, purpose, integrity and courage. She sees this work as contributing to a more inclusive ‘culture’ of agriculture where all voices are warmly welcomed, honored and celebrated, including the voices of our ‘inner teachers’, sometimes referred to as 'spirit' or 'soul'. Violet serves as the NY SARE Coordinator and can help farmers and educators navigate NESARE grant opportunities.

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