Cornell Small Farms Update Summer 2015

3Message from the Editor

Summer is the time of year when things can’t seem to get any busier. I know for myself, being a part time farmer and part time office employee, its sometimes hard to leave the farm and get to work when animals and plants are demanding attention. So many small farmers wear both of these hats, often needing off-farm income to support the on-farm dreams. This balancing act means sometimes a critical third weekly task is forgotten: REST.

Taking a break from work is an important part of farming. I believe it actually helps me do my work on the farm and in the office better. Even taking just thirty minutes a day to take a nap, read a book, or laugh with a friend or family member helps. If you have a hard time with this, then consider this issue an invitation to, at the very least, take a break from the daily toil and learn how to farm better while doing it. I’m pleased that we have several articles in this issue that go beyond the nuts-and-bolts and discuss how personal health and family are important parts of the farm, too.

So find that hammock in the shade, pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade, and enjoy!

Steve Gabriel

Small Farms, New Markets Webinar Series Recordings Available 
If you missed the webinars in the Small Farms, New Markets series this Spring, you can now watch the recordings anytime. The series featured smaller farmers that sell to larger markets such as food hubs, grocery stores and restaurants.

Farmers reflected on their decision making process, benefits and challenges, costs, and infrastructure needed to get their products to bigger markets. Each webinar also featured one of the farmer’s ‘wholesale’ buyers who described how they establish productive relationships with smaller farms, and outlined their business models and buying requirements.


New Small Farms Events Calendar
We are pleased to announce a more user-friendly redesign of our Small Farms Statewide Events Calendar.  You can now click on your region of the map for local events, or browse all events currently offered across New York. As before, this calendar brings you a broad spectrum of trainings, classes, workshops, and conferences from our network of Cornell Cooperative Extension partners and other small farm organizations around New York State. Click here to check out the new map.  If you have an event you’d like to submit to our calendar, please send an email to

Insurance for Mushroom Growers Now Available 
Forest mushroom cultivation has recently been growing in popularity, due to the abundance of forest resources in the northeast and the relative low-cost of startup operations. Growers interested in cultivation have sometimes found one major hurdle; insurance companies would deny or drop coverage upon learning the farm was planning on mushroom cultivation, mostly over fears of the liability incurred with wrongful identification of a mushroom species or with the sanitary conditions associated with cultivation. A new development between Small Farms, New York Farm Bureau, and Nationwide Insurance has confirmed that insurance policies are now available immediately to outdoor, forest mushroom farmers in temperate regions of the United States.

New Videos for Small Farmers
“Hoop House Considerations” is part of the Vegetable Production series from Muddy Fingers Farm, a small vegetable CSA in Hector, NY. Visit our Youtube channel to view this video and others on Muddy Fingers Farm. Hoop House Considerations was filmed and edited by Peter Carroll of Ithaca, NY.

Additionally, The USDA National Agroforestry Center, Forest Farming eXtension program, Virginia Tech, Cornell University and Paul Smith’s College have partnered to create a series of videos detailing silvopasture practices.

Farmer Participants Selected for Profit Teams
The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project and New York FarmNet are announce the first round of successful candidates to our Advanced Beginning Farmer Profit Teams. Selection for this program was competitive and we received a lot of great applications but our review team selected the twelve farms that we thought would have the best chance at success in the program. The twelve farms represent a wide variety of farm sizes, crop types, business models, and regions across the state. This initiative seeks to improve the long-term success of these farms by providing customized, one-on-one guidance from farm professionals (financial, production, legal, marketing, etc.). This project is funded by the USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.

Agriculture: One of the Best Fields for New College Graduates 
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a new report showing tremendous demand for recent college graduates with a degree in agricultural programs with an estimated 57,900 high-skilled job openings annually in the food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment fields in the United States. According to the USDA and Purdue University, there is an average of 35,400 new U.S. graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in agriculture related fields, 22,500 short of the jobs available annually.


Steve Gabriel

Steve is an Extension Specialist focused on specialty mushroom production and agroforestry. Throughout his career, Steve has taught thousands of people about the ways farming and forestry can be combined to both benefit the ecology and economies of small farms.  He is also a farmer, author, hiker, and musician.
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