Cornell Small Farms Update Winter 2017

From the Editor:
Regardless of your social, political, and religious views, as a farmer you belong to agroup that is a small minority of the US workforce. And as we all know, farming isnot a job, but a lifestyle. When there is not a clock-in and clock-out time, and whenthe farm needs rise and fall with the seasons, weather, and market demands, wemust always be on our toes.
In a line of work and life that can be stressful and debilitating at times, there isstrength in numbers. We must remember that our fellow farmers and neighborshave similar struggles, and that there is likely more that unites us than divides us.Sometimes its easy to forget, or to see only the values and viewpoints that make usseem different. Organic vs. Conventional. Small vs. Big. Old vs. Young.
In reality, we need every farmer to work more together, so that this way of life, andline of work can continue to prosper. In the New Year, let’s strive to make thoseconnections, and reach across the fence and say hello to another farmer.
-Steve Gabriel

Announcing New Grant to Enhance Mushroom Farming Viability in NY
The Cornell Small Farms Program announces a new two-year project funded through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to support the development of a new niche crop in New York State; log-grown shiitake mushrooms. Anyone who is growing commercially, starting up, or considering commercial production is welcome to participate.
Interested farmers and service providers can learn more and sign up for updates at:
In 2017 & 2018, the grant will focus on developing the following opportunities for farmers in New York:
– A printed planning tool will be published in early 2017 to support enterprise development by farmers. It will include enterprise budget worksheets, timelines for implementations, yield projection planning tools, an outline of safety and sanitation requirements and procedures for value-added products utilizing mushrooms.
Self-directed online training modules on advanced topics for mushroom cultivation including mushroom identification, forest management, production safety & sanitation measures, and strategic marketing will be released in 2017.
– In 2017 and 2018, Small Farms will host 5 trainings at regional Cooperative Extension offices in Wyoming, Schuyler, Franklin, Putnam, and Greene Counties. The trainings will be two days, offering enterprise planning sessions on the first day, and individual farm consultations on day two. (see dates below)
– The program will solicit applications from farms for customized one-on-one support developing enterprise plans for their farm. Ongoing guidance and support will enable farms to develop robust and resilient plans for log-grown shiitake growing operations.
Sunday, January 29 – Franklin County CCE (Consultations on Jan 30)
Sunday, February 5 – Wyoming County CCE (Consultations on Feb 6)
Sunday, February 26 – Schuyler County CCE (Consultations on Feb 27)
Friday, March 3 – Greene County CCE (Consultations on March 4)
Friday, March 10 – Putnam County CCE (Consultations on March 11)
Cost: $30/person
FOR MORE INFORMATION: or contact Steve Gabriel at

Upcoming Online Courses
We offer over twenty courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills. Students connect with other farmers, work on farm plans, and gain practical tips without leaving their home. Course content can be accessed anywhere with a high-speed internet connection.
Most courses are six weeks long. Each week features an evening webinar and follow-up readings, videos, and activities. Students and their instructors connect through online forums and live chat. If you aren’t able to attend the webinars in real-time, they are always recorded for later viewing.
Classes starting the Week of January 16 include:
BF 107: Climate Smart Farming
BF 120: Veggie Farming 1 – From Planning to Planting
BF 152: Introduction to Maple Syrup Production
BF 203: Holistic Financial Planning
BF 223: Tree Fruit Production
BF 232: Commercial Sheep Production
Each course is $250, which entitles two people from a farm to attend. Discounts for early sign up and multiple course sign ups are available.
Check out the listings at for more information on a particular course and the instructors.

Upcoming Baskets to Pallets Trainings
The Baskets to Pallets Project is pleased to announce a calendar of 2016-17 training opportunities.  The project seeks to prepare small and mid-scale farmers – who have been primarily direct marketing – to successfully enter new wholesale markets such as groceries, food hubs, restaurants and cooperatives.  Farmers that complete a wholesale readiness training this Fall or Winter will be invited to attend a farmer-buyer Mixer on March 6th, 2017 in Troy, NY to start building new sales relationships.  Visit the calendar at

First Farm in New York Approved for On-the-Job Training for Veterans
In October, Kreher’s Poultry Farm became the first farm in New York State approved by the Division of Veterans’ Affairs to provide formal on-the-job training for military service members transitioning to agricultural careers.
The OJT program, administered by the Division of Veterans’ Affairs, supports programs spanning six months to two years that follow an approved training outline. Employers pay participating veterans at a rate equal to that of any other trainee, while the Division of Veterans’ Affairs pay the veterans a portion of their military housing allowance. Using this benefit, veterans can offset their cost of living and thus afford to work for a training-level wage.
FARM OPS staff, working with the New York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs, will help each participating farm create a simple training outline—or modify an existing curriculum—that details what veterans are expected to learn while employed at the farm as trainees. Farms hiring through OJT should be in a position to offer full-time employment to the veteran at the end of the training term.
Employment at the end of the training program is, of course, contingent on the relationship having proven mutually beneficial, with the farm gaining a valuable, well-trained employee.
For more information:

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Tara Hammonds

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