Cornell Small Farms Update Winter 2016

Greetings!  Winter is a wonderful time to refine your farm plans, expand your skills and meet other farmers in your area.  We at the Small Farm Program have several projects and opportunities to help farmers gear up for future seasons. Please do visit our webpage and sign up for our Small Farms Update to get information on current offerings.
Learn to farm online this winter from NE Beginning Farmer Project
Winter is a great time for farmers to rest, slow down the pace, and build new skills for the coming growing season. The Cornell Small Farms Program is pleased to announce the winter roster of online courses available through its Northeast Beginning Farmer Project. Since 2006, the program has offered high quality, collaborative learning environments online and each year educates hundreds of beginning and established farmers through these courses.
All of our courses consist of weekly real-time webinars followed by homework, readings, and discussions on your own time in an online setting. If you aren’t able to attend the live webinars, they are always recorded for later viewing. Each course is $200, but up to 4 people from the same farm may participate without paying extra. See the course description page for more on the course learning objectives, instructors, and outline
To learn more visit:
Cornell Small Farms Program partners with USDA to uncover “The Promise of Urban Agriculture.”
Cornell Small Farms Program is working with USDA Agriculture Marketing Service to study the potential and needs of commercial urban agriculture. The study, entitled “The Promise of Urban Agriculture,” aims to identify key community, policy and infrastructure elements needed to develop successful commercial urban farms in cities around the United States.
Urban agriculture has grown immensely in popularity and practice, particularly now that more than 50% of the global population resides in urban areas. Many urban farms in the U.S. focus not only on food production, but also food security, social justice, and community development . For the purpose of this study, the team will focus on farms where food production is the primary activity of the farm, though it may engage in other educational or socially-minded activities. This focus will help clarify strategies for USDA/AMS to support the growth and profitability of urban farms.
The research team is currently identifying 20 case study farms that will provide the foundational data for the project. SFP will continue to provide updates on this project through its completion in Fall 2016.
Farmers Talk ‘Wholesale Marketing’
This Fall, the Small Farms Program teamed up with Northeast SARE to continue the webinar series “Small Farms, New Markets”.  The series featured farmers that had successfully transitioned from direct marketing to selling product to one or more wholesale buyers.  We heard from Stephen Winkler, of Lucky 7 Livestock Company, about how he scaled up to meet the needs of grocery stores and distributors such as Mosner Family Brands, a wholesale meat company based in the Bronx, NY.  We also heard from Dan Kent of Kent Family Growers about how he supplements sales of his CSA by selling to food stores such as the Park Slope Food Coop. You can watch the presentations anytime by visiting
Apply for Advanced Beginning Farmer Profit Team Program
The Northeast Beginning Farmer Project and New York FarmNet are excited to announce the second round of successful candidates to our Advanced Beginning Farmer Profit Team Program. 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. To see the participating farms or learn more, visit
Northeast veteran and beginning farmer service providers come together to strengthen network, share resources
In recent years, beginning farmer support organizations have sprouted up across the NE, aiming to meet the need of beginning farmers (BF’s) for quality resources, training and mentoring. The Cornell Small Farms Program created the NE Beginning Farmer Learning Network (BFLN) to serve as a collaborative learning platform, creating a forum for service providers across organizations and agencies to get advanced training and develop more effective BF services. Through the BFLN, we provide train-the-trainer programs that foster peer-to-peer learning, collaboration among organizations, and resource sharing to advance the long-term success of BF’s.
This fall, October 26-27th, we hosted a 2-day BFLN meeting bringing together over 50 service providers from extension programs, non-profit organizations, and government agencies from across the NE. The meeting began with a focus on supporting NYS veterans in agriculture and invited traditional military veteran and agricultural service providers to identify how to best serve military veterans. Discussions focused on farmer-veteran pathways into farming, career resources available to help veterans, and how to create regional service provider networks to support veterans in NYS. The meeting then focused on technical knowledge gaps and teaching approaches, with educators sharing strategies to help BF’s in acquiring and assessing farm land and building BF business and financial analysis skills. For a complete agenda and links to presentations, visit the Trainers Toolbox at the NE Beginning Farmers Project, This project is funded in part from a USDA-BFRDP, NE SARE PDP and the Local Economies Project.

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Tara Hammonds

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