Cornell Small Farms Program Update

Message from the Editor

It happens every year, and always surprises me.  Last summer, just after the first long, soaking rain of summer, I walked out to the garden to see a carpet of slugs feasting on a tattered array of succulent green stems that were once peppers, basil and hearty greens.  I went straight to the local farm supply store to purchase another round of starts and added a large bag of Earthbound organic slug killer to my cart.  A little sun and the slug killer worked wonders and the new plants were soon looking delicious and hearty enough that they attracted a midnight visit from some local deer who browsed them to the ground. I half-heartedly replanted, mostly surrendering to the fact that I was likely sticking charitable snacks in the ground for an infinite number of hungry fauna patrolling the great backyard.

Several months later, despite the stresses of weather and herbivory, I bent down to see modest fruits forming on most of the garden veggies. The resilience and abundance of nature always surprises me.  I know I’m not the only one whose fruits and vegetables are suffering early heat or late frosts, drought or excessive rains, and damage from any number of creatures with wings and legs and hoofs.  And yet, as the days grow shorter, the farm stands and stalls grow fuller with bountiful displays of the harvest.  It certainly is hard work to tend a farm or garden, but we can be thankful that nature does a miraculous job with its part.

During this busiest time of the year, don’t forget to find a shady spot, rest your head, and be amazed by nature’s work!

Best wishes,

Managing Editor

Cornell Small Farms Program Update

Summer is often a quiet season in the Small Farms office.  Researchers and students head out to the fields to focus on seeding research plots and data collection, and our home in the Plant Sciences building gets pleasantly quiet and reflective.  This summer, we had a productive meeting with our Small Farms Leadership Team who helps us plan upcoming projects and prioritize focus areas. We’re all ready to jump into a busy Fall season of launching new programs and generating new resources. See below!

Sparking a Wholesale Revolution: Preparing Small and Mid-Size Farmers to Enter Larger Markets
We are excited to announce the launch of a new 3 year training program to help prepare small and mid-size farmers to sell to distributors. The project, which will launch in October, includes trainings to educators and farmers to assess changes needed in production, storage, packaging and handling to satisfy larger markets.  This work is made possible by Northeast SARE.

Online Courses for Aspiring, New & Experienced Farmers
Registration for the 2014-2015 season is now open! The Cornell Small Farms Program offers a catalogue of 12 online classes to help you improve your farm production skills, marketing, record keeping and business management.  These interactive 5-7-week courses are led by experienced educators and farmers.  Visit the course calendar or course descriptions to see the offerings of all our courses organized by season.  We’ve created a FAQ page to help answer any additional questions you might have.

Small Farms Program Releases First Orchard Management Video

Ian Merwin demonstrating apple tree pruning.

Ian Merwin demonstrating apple tree pruning.

Our videographer, Peter Carroll, has completed editing of our first orchard management video, featuring Cornell emeritus professor Ian Merwin demonstrating apple tree pruning and training at his farm, Black Diamond.  This video was funded partially with contributions to our Indiegogo campaign at the end of 2013.

Steve Gabriel Joins Cornell Small Farms Program
We are pleased to welcome Steve Gabriel as the newest member of staff at the Cornell Small Farms Program. Steve specializes in agroforestry and permaculture and has co-authored the book Farming the Woods with Cornell professor Ken Mudge, as well as a number of other publications and fact sheets related to forest farming. We’re excited to work with Steve to integrate mushroom production and agroforestry into our programs and resources.

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.

Leave a Comment