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Cornell Small Farms Program Update- Fall 2012

Happy Fall!

Is your kitchen getting foggy with steam rising from scalding ripe tomatoes? One of my favorite childhood memories of Fall is spending time in the kitchen with my mother and sisters boiling apples to crank through our hand-operated applesauce maker. The warm, sweet aroma of applesauce permeated the air and the heat rising from the pot kept autumns chill from pressing in at the windows.

One of the nicest things about farming and gardening is the evocative nature of it. The experience of growing food and raising animals abounds with so many rich colors and aromas that it creates lasting impressions for many of us. This struck me clearly while reading through letters from Stuart Cheney, a 78 year old Vermont farmer whose memoirs we are introducing in this issue. While recalling farm memories from 7 decades earlier, he brings the sensory experience right to the surface. He describes hanging freshly butchered pork in the pantry as a young boy: “The salt pork shoulders and ham went into the crocks with brine to cure, before we hung them in an old barrel and smoked them with nice dry apple wood. Later on, when winter moved in we cut some of the cured salt pork up into one-inch squares and put them in a kettle. We set the kettle on the back of the wood stove. After the pork was melted down, we poured off the lard to get the tastiest fat scraps to eat – nothing better. Yum, yum!” I think you’ll enjoy his vivid recollections of farm life in the 1940s over the next few issues. Flip ahead to “The Cheney Letters” to read more.

Do you have a memory of this or past farming seasons to share as we slip into a more reflective season? As always, we love to hear from you. Drop us a line anytime!

Best wishes,


Fall, Winter, and Spring Online Classes for Small Farmers

Whether you are a seasoned, new, or aspiring farmer, there’s something for you in our 2012-2013 line-up of online courses.

There are courses covering commercial production topics like raising veggies, berries, and poultry, and many more covering management of a successful farm, including business planning, holistic financial planning, marketing, and getting started in farming.Take advantage of this opportunity to interact with other farmers, develop your farming plans, and learn new skills from the comfort of your own home. Most courses are 6 weeks long and a bargain at $200 each.


Guide to On-Farm Poultry Slaughter

We are pleased to announce publication of our new On-farm Poultry Slaughter Guide, geared toward farmers that process less than 1000 birds/yr. The guide outlines the challenges of small-scale on farm processing, such as getting liability insurance. Designed to complement a hands-on training in how to properly kill and prepare a poultry carcass for sale, this guide focuses on the critical points for producing a product that is safe to eat.

This 28-page guide contains sections on the 1000-bird limit exemption, where you can legally sell your birds under this exemption, labeling requirements, sanitary operating procedures and more. It includes several appendices, such as a sample flock record log and a questionnaire that your insurance company may use to assess your knowledge of safe poultry processing practices.

If you process less than 1000 birds/year on your farm, following the practices in this guide doesn’t guarantee that you’ll find an insurance company willing to provide you with liability insurance. But demonstrating to insurers your knowledge of best practices in poultry slaughter and processing may help convince them that you’re not a high-risk operation. .

Figs and Farm Energy

What do figs have to do with farm energy? Come out and visit Leo Seimion’s 25 acre organic farm in Summit, NY on October 5th to find out. Leo is growing oranges, lemons and figs in his greenhouse which is warmed by radiant heat. He also has a 9.4 KW grid tied PV electric system and a roof mounted evacuated tube solar hot water system, among many other energy conservation and renewable energy features. The farm energy field day is the first of a series offered throughout New York during the month of October. View the full schedule register!

Violet Stone

Violet is the coordinator of the Reconnecting with Purpose project, which offers farm and food system educators and change makers a retreat space to explore challenges and renew a sense of inspiration and purpose in their work and lives. She is also a collaborator on the Be Well Farming Project. This project creates reflective spaces for farmers and food producers to connect meaningfully and explore strategies that can ameliorate challenges and bolster quality of life. Violet serves as the NY SARE Coordinator and can help farmers and educators navigate NESARE grant opportunities.

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