Cornell Small Farms Update Fall 2015
Message from the Editor
The growing season has largely come and gone, and now famers around the region move into a new phase: getting ready for winter. This can mean processing the harvest, rolling up hose and row cover, and shoring up buildings, water, and animal infrastructure for the long cold months ahead.
Alongside this time of bountiful harvest and preparation comes the opportunity to reflect on the season. Some questions we are asking ourselves at our farm are: What did we do well? How were we ready (and not ready) for the weather that came this season? Did we balance our health and well-being with the demands of the farm?
And, as we begin to wrap things up, we feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the abundance and beauty that the summer months bring. We say goodbye and give thanks to flowers, greens, and luscious pasture for the animals, all which give us both food and a living off the land. Not everything went perfect or as planned, but each season is remarkable and wonderful in its own right.
I am grateful to the wonderful writers and articles that appear in this issue of the quarterly. This tradition of sharing knowledge is what makes farming thrive.
Build Your Farming Skills this Fall and Winter
Online courses from the Cornell Small Farms Program can be taken by anyone, anywhere with high-speed internet access.
The Cornell Small Farms Program and Northeast Beginning Farmer Project offer a menu of instructor-led 6-week online courses designed to help aspiring farmers get started and more advanced farmers delve deeper into the skills needed to run a successful farm business. You’ll find a diversity of topics from the production-oriented (mushrooms, poultry, berries, vegetables, grains) to the business-oriented (financial planning, business planning, marketing).
Courses incorporate weekly live webinars with farmers, Cornell faculty, and other ag professionals as guest presenters. Between webinars, students participate in discussion forums, read resources shared, and complete homework assignments helping them to apply concepts learned in the course to their own situation.
The complete list of courses can be found at http://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses. Be sure to check out the target audience and learning objectives for each course before registering, to be sure it’s a good fit for you. On the lefthand menu of this page you’ll also find Online Course FAQs to answer questions about course structure, expectations, scholarships, academic credit, etc.
Courses are $200 each. Successful completion of a course makes students better candidates for low- to no-interest loans from the Farm Service Agency and Kiva Zip.
0% Interest Farm Loans of up to $10,000 Available Through Kiva Zip
Kiva Zip is a crowdfunding platform providing 0% interest loans to entrepreneurs. Note that these are loans, not grants, so they do need to be repaid, but there is no other source of loan money with zero hidden fees and zero percent interest. Lenders on Kiva Zip particularly love to support farmers! So if you’ve been needing a small amount of capital to purchase equipment, build a small facility, smooth out cash flow, or support your farm in any way, check out Kiva Zip. Kiva operates on social capital, so you don’t need to share your credit history or financial statements, or even a business plan, to get funding. Just about anyone can apply. If you want your loan to fundraise more quickly on Kiva Zip, and you have taken one of the Cornell Small Farms Program’s online courses, you can request our endorsement after you’ve applied for the loan. The Cornell Small Farms Program is a Kiva Zip Trustee, and lenders tend to preferentially support loans with the backing of a Trustee. To learn more, visit the Kiva Zip website.
Wholesale Market Watch
The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce “Wholesale Market Watch”, a new listserve that provides information and resources to facilitate connecting small and mid-sized farmers to larger markets such as food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants, online marketplaces and cooperatives. Are you a farmer, agricultural educator, or regional food-buyer in the Northeast? You can sign up to receive email alerts from Wholesale Market Watch here: https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/wholesale/listserve/. This listserve is part of a larger project called “Sparking a Wholesale Revolution: Preparing Small and Mid-sized Farmers to Enter Larger Markets”. Learn more about the project goals and activities https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/wholesale/. If you have an opportunity to share, please send information to Project Coordinator Violet Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org
Agroforestry describes a wide range of practices that integrate trees, forests, and agricultural production. These systems can be adapted to almost any site and condition, though considerations like climate, slope, soil characteristics, and grower objectives will ultimately determine the crops that are appropriate for a specific piece of land. Examples of crops include mushrooms, maple and other tree syrups, ginseng, ramps, fruit and nut trees, and more. For farmers with forest on their land, these enterprises are a great way to diversify the land and add some extra income. In response to increasing interest in agroforestry over the years, Cornell has created a number of tools and resources to help woodlot owners start farming their forests. Learn more and view factsheets, videos, and more at https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/agroforestry/