SFP Program News

The New Online Home of Cornell Small Farms Program

As we first announced in the Summer 2019 issue of the Small Farms Quarterly, we have been working on some major updates to our communications efforts, and are excited to finally share the results!

In August we launched our new website, designed with our new logo and branding. This more up-to-date website makes all of our work and resources more easily accessible. It also allows us to better serve our mission to help farmers get expert assistance to facilitate all phases of small farm business development, from initial growth to optimization to maturity.

We are continuing to add content about innovative research, extension initiatives, educational opportunities and more. We appreciate your patience and also encourage your feedback.

Visit our new website at the same URL: smallfarms.cornell.edu

Register for Our Online Courses, Now on a New Platform

We are also excited to announce the move of our suite of online courses to a new, more user-friendly platform. Now registrants have permanent, year-round access to their course content. Also, courses have tiered pricing from $199 – $299, based on household size and income to make access to the courses more affordable and equitable for everyone.

Our program offers more than 20 online courses to help farmers improve their technical and business skills. These courses cover a range of technical and business topics any farmer needs to succeed. You can learn about beekeeping, holistic financial planning, soil health, vegetable farming, and so much more. Experienced farmers and extension educators guide students through about six-week-long courses that include weekly live webinars, videos, and resources.

The bulk of the course happens on your own time, with discussions, readings, and assignments in Teachable, our online course platform. To add to the experience, webinars will be woven into the interface of the course for 6 weeks each year to allow you to meet on a weekly basis to learn from presenters and ask questions in real time. If you miss one, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

Registration is now open for all courses, with the next round of live webinar content starting at the beginning of November for our second block of courses:

Veggie Farming Part 1 – From Planning to Planting

  • This course helps new and aspiring vegetable producers answer basic questions about site selection, crop rotation, seeding and transplanting, as well as the financial aspects of vegetable crop production. A number of topics will be covered in this online course, including variety selection, pre-plant preparation, and cultivation.

Berry Production

  • If you’re exploring the idea of adding berries and bramble fruits to your farm, this course will help you consider all the aspects of this decision, from varieties and site selection through profit and marketing. This course will be especially useful if you are interested in growing berries for income.

Poultry Production

  • Many new farmers get started with poultry because it’s a relatively low-investment enterprise with a fairly quick revenue turnaround. The margins can be slim though, and farmers need to develop the necessary skillset to produce a product that is both safe and profitable. This course will help you get started in building a successful poultry enterprise.

Getting Started with Pastured Pigs

  • Pigs can be a profitable standalone enterprise or integrate into an existing farm structure. They provide a variety of products and are also ideal for turning agricultural wastes into a valuable product. Pigs make use of marginal lands that would otherwise go unused, and they can improve that land.

Introduction to Maple Syrup Production

  • Maple syrup production is rapidly growing around the Northeast and offers a sound financial opportunity to utilize woodlots. This course explores the range possibilities of maple sugaring on your land – be it for supplemental income or for your livelihood. Also discussed are “alternative” trees for production, including Birch and Black Walnut.

You can browse all of our course offerings on our website at smallfarms.cornell.edu/online-courses/


Farm Ops Project Continues Farmer Veteran Training Series

Farm OPS has been providing a series of training workshops throughout 2019 for veterans interested in agriculture. Opportunities have included single-day focused classes, as well as connecting participating veterans to additional regional training opportunities, print material, and online resources tailored to each individual’s interests. Specific topics in this series cover: mushroom production, high tunnel growing, soil health, pasture management, greenhouse management, maple syrup production.

The series also included two week-long intensives that cover a wide range of agricultural enterprises, one for those preparing to launch a farm business enterprise, and one for those already operating a farm business.

The Farm OPS team and our partners at the Canandaigua VAMC and National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) hosted a five-day intensive “Armed to Farm” workshop at the end of July in Victor, NY. The highlight of the week was a fabulous local foods dinner at Kettle Ridge Farm, with Farmer Veteran Coalition members and past A2F participants joining the group for a great meal and farm tour.

We also supported the Farmer Veteran Coalition of New York’s first Listening Session Series in Hoosick Falls, Corning, and Watertown. Thanks to all who came out and discussed their experiences in farming. To learn more about FVC go to farmvetco.org, or join the chapter’s Facebook page at facebook.com/FVCNY/.

The Farm OPS team will also be upgrading our communications with farmer veterans from the NYVETSAG listserv to a new platform later this year. Those on the current list will receive instructions on how to get transferred to the new system. If you haven’t heard from us in a while, or want to receive information from the Farm OPS team, send Dean a note at drk5@cornell.edu and he’ll send you sign up instructions. If you’ve signed up to receive the Cornell Small Farms Newsletter, and checked the veteran status box, you’re already registered.

Don’t forget, veterans receive a discount of 50% off registration for all of our online courses. See the Farm OPS page for more details: smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/farm-ops/

Reduced Tillage Project Expands Tarping Research and Plans Farmer-Farmer Workshops

We’re working to support small-scale vegetable farms in adopting tarps to reduce tillage thanks to recent funding from Northeast SARE. Collaborating with the University of Maine, our research in permanent bed systems combining tarps with other soil building practices to learn how tarps help us reduce tillage and change soils, weeds, and crop yields. Learn more about the research project on the SARE website: projects.sare.org/sare_project/LNE19-382/

We’ll be sharing our results of this research and learning from farmer experience at intensive farmer-farmer workshops this fall. You can share your own tarping practices, and learn from others transitioning to reduced and no-till systems on their farm. We will host a Pre-Conference workshop at the MOFGA Farmer to Farmer Conference on November 2. Similar workshops will be coming to Eastern and Central NY, with dates and locations still being finalized.

Check out our project page for updates at: smallfarms.cornell.edu/projects/reduced-tillage/ or contact reduced tillage specialist, Ryan Maher at rmm325@cornell.edu with questions.

More Project Updates Featured in this Issue

Interested in what’s happening with our Specialty Mushrooms project? Read the article “Specialty Mushroom Project Expands to Serve Diverse Urban and Rural Growers” to learn more about how our project is partnering with a number of prominent organizations to elevate mushroom farming and connect small-scale producers to resources and support so that new enterprises directly benefit a wide range of communities.

Curious about the latest news from our Labor Ready project? Read the article “Lake Ontario’s New Generation of Hispanic Employees, Future Leaders, and Innovators” to learn more about the 5th annual CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Program’s Hispanic Summer Fruit Tour successfully conducted in partnership with the Cornell Small Farms Program. More than one hundred Hispanic employees enjoyed a group dinner at Orchard Dale Fruit Farm Inc., at the end of the four-stop tour.

Kacey Deamer

Kacey is the Communications Manager for the Cornell Small Farms Program. In this role, she manages all storytelling and outreach across the program’s website, social media, e-newsletter, magazine and more. Kacey has worked in communications and journalism for more than a decade, with a primary focus on science and sustainability.