Celebrating the Success of NYS LatinX Agriculture Leaders & Entrepreneurs

As the Winter season approaches, we are sharing information on existing and upcoming programs and we welcome the opportunity for collaboration and adaptation to all NYS growers, producers, and service providers.

By Nicole Waters, Alejandro Calixto, and Mario Miranda Sazo

Puede leer este artículo en español aquí.

SFQ Fruit tour farmer story

Mario Miranda Sazo (CCE LOF), Silvia and Sergio Rosario (Rosario Brothers’ Farm) share experience and inspiration with Spanish Summer Fruit Tour attendees. Nicole Waters / Cornell Small Farms Program

What Mario Miranda Sazo began in 2015 as a small gathering of Spanish-speaking orchardists and farmers has grown into an annual tradition in Western New York’s Lake Ontario Fruit (LOF) region. As an educator, the Spanish Summer Fruit Tour is one of those events that you look forward to all year long. This annual event invigorates you, and reminds you that your work matters. The hunger for knowledge among the attendees is contagious each and every year; and yet, the 2021 Summer Fruit Tour boasted an even more engaging mix of technical skill building, cultural practice demonstrations, and opportunities for Ag managerial development. This year’s tour was coordinated and led by Mario Miranda Sazo (CCE Lake Ontario Fruit Program), Alejandro Calixto (NYS Integrated Pest Management), and Nicole Waters (Cornell Small Farms) and hosted by Sergio and Silvia Rosario (Rosario Brother’s Farm, LLC), on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon (August 28) in Western New York. 


New Educational Programs Bring Knowledge to Lake Ontario Fruit Region Orchardists & Employees


The recent addition of Alejandro Calixto, Director NYS IPM, made this year’s Spanish Summer Fruit Tour even more exciting and effective. Alejandro shared an engaging Integrated Pest Management (IPM) basics presentation on tick prevention and identification of the invasive Spotted lanternfly, with many participants expressing great interest and surprise in learning about ticks for the very first time! 


After the event, Alejandro  expressed the need for more Spanish-language programs and events like the Spanish Summer Fruit tour, “From the NYS IPM perspective, we need to make a significant investment connecting with our hispanic communities to build a stronger apple industry in the state, by creating respectful and trustworthy relationships, they (Spanish-speaking orchardists and employees) are valued allies that can be foundational for effective and sustainable IPM practices in apple orchards. They are often at the front line of many pest problems and deserve adequate training that would allow them to be better prepared if they decide to grow their

SFQ fruit tour presentation Alejandro Calixto

An educational presentation by Alejandro Calixto (Director, NYS IPM) on Tick prevention and Spotted Lantern Fly identification. Nicole Waters / Cornell Small Farms Program

own orchards.” Work is currently underway to co-create  supportive and inclusive educational resources and programs, grounded in language justice, through a collaboration of the NYS IPM, CCE LOF, and Cornell Small Farms programs.


Tour Stop #1 – Rosario Brothers’ Farm – Medina, NY. Not surprisingly, Mario Miranda Sazo brought an energy and enthusiasm for better understanding practical fruit production systems to the tour, which lasted throughout the day. During stop number one, Mario, along with five local farm managers and graduates of the Cornell Small Farms Master Class program (see additional details below), discussed the importance of professional development for agricultural employees. Specifically communication and leadership education for Spanish-speaking employees with managerial responsibilities, along with the ways in which these skills lead to improved on-farm efficiency, work crew productivity, and overall farm business success.


Looking Forward to Future Programs and a Strong NYS Agricultural Industry

Tour Stop #2 – Rosario Brothers’ New Planting at Kendrick Rd 

Waterport, NY – the location of the new Rosario Brothers’ 50-acre, high density planting, established in 2019. This stop included an in-depth discussion on orchard management systems, including irrigation, fertigation, and soil nutrient management.  In addition, Mario and Nicole Waters launched recruitment activity for the Winter 2022 Cornell Small Farms – Futuro Financiero course

SFQ fruit tour group

Tour group at Rosario Brother’s Marshall Road Farm after a cultural practices demo by Mario Miranda Sazo, along with a discussion of the importance of obtaining ag managerial skill sets with 5 Master Class Graduates (Ruben Gomar `18, Jose Vallejo `18, Silvia Rosario `19, Sergio Rosario `19, and Flor Iniquez `19). Alejandro Calixto / NYS IPM

The Futuro Financiero course (formerly piloted as the Master Class program, 2018-2020) is a 5-week professional development course for bilingual and Spanish-speaking farm owners, managers, and employees looking to grow their management skill sets within an English Language Learning (ELL) environment. Throughout the piloting period, this in-depth course has proven to increase on-farm communication and employee engagement within the complex multi-cultural, multilingual agricultural workplace. 

The Winter 2022 offering of Futuro Financiero will feature additional course content aimed at expanding basic financial literacy, while building confidence in both team leadership and English-language communication. The Cornell Small Farms Program is actively seeking students in the Western NY region to enroll in the 2022 course. Eligible students include bilingual or Spanish-speakers currently employed in agriculture(no commodity restrictions). This course offers an opportunity for farm business owners and employers to enhance their businesses, while demonstrating appreciation and value for their workforce through thoughtfully tailored professional development opportunities. 


SFQ Fruit tour presentation Mario Sazo

Mario Miranda Sazo (CCE LOF), Fruit Extension Specialist, discusses maximum tree growth and orchard system production practices with Silvia (left) and Sergio (center) Rosario, Owners of Rosario Brothers’ Farm in Medina, NY. Nicole Waters / Cornell Small Farms Program

Celebrating the Entrepreneurial Spirit and Success of the Rosarios

The true stars of the 2021 Spanish Summer Fruit Tour are Silvia and Sergio Rosario, owners of the Rosario Brothers’ fruit farm, and hosts of both tour stops. The Rosario’s provide custom services for winter/summer pruning, spring grafting, and summer budding in New York’s Lake Ontario fruit region. They are dedicated, dynamic, and savvy farm business professionals, who crossed paths with the Cornell Small Farms Program during the 2019 Master Class Program (Futuro Financiero) and quickly evolved into important collaborators and inspiring mentors to both Spanish and English-speaking agricultural entrepreneurs alike. As mentioned above, the Rosario’s proudly expanded their orchard operation in 2019 to include 50 acres of Gala, Honeycrisp, Fuji, NY1, and Evercrisp varietals. During their expansion operation, the Rosario’s partnered with the Cornell Small Farms Program through the Smart Farming Team initiative, gaining access to consulting and farm financial expertise. A 2020 video series titled, In the Orchard – I am Free, was produced, telling their story and sharing their experience in the program (Trailer, Full English, Full Spanish versions available). 

The Rosario’s, and every attendee of the Spanish Summer Fruit Tour, represent an essential segment of the NYS agricultural workforce and farmer identity. The fruit tour event, the Futuro Financiero Course, and the collaboration between NYS IPM, CCE LOF, and the Cornell Small Farms Program aims to further efforts of recognition and celebration of an important group of NYS farmers, while simultaneously creating language-appropriate educational materials and defined pathways to successful farming careers. If you are interested in in learning more about about our programs, have questions, or would like to enroll (yourself or an employee(s) in the Futuro Financiero course – Please contact Nicole Waters, or Mario Miranda Sazo (en espanol), or simply complete this information request form. Together we rise. Together we inspire, educate, and support successful farmers. Together we will improve and innovate NYS Agriculture.

Nicole Waters

Nicole is the Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. Her work focuses on the human side of farming, with the day-to-day operations of the Labor Ready Project as her main priority. Trained in organizational communication, leadership, and English as a Second Language (ESL); Nicole’s work aims to foster healthy and positive working environments through professional development programs.