Cornell Small Farms Program Updates

News from the Cornell Small Farms Program, Winter 2022

From Farm Business Planning to Production Strategies, Learn with Us in the New Year

Our online course season is almost halfway through, and now’s the time to register for our upcoming block three courses which begin in January. This block of courses includes our new offering on access to capital, plus farm business courses and production courses covering beekeeping, mushrooms, sheep and more.

Our suite of online courses is offered on a user-friendly platform, which grants registrants permanent access to their course content. Also, courses have tiered pricing based on household size and income to make access to the courses more affordable and equitable for everyone.

Registration is now open for all courses, with live instruction starting the week of January 10, 2022, for our third block of courses:

Access to Capital

Mondays: January 10 – February 14, 2022

It can be very difficult to navigate the process of getting grants or loans, especially if you did not come to farming with a background in finance. This new course will cover the various aspects of seeking funding for a farm enterprise.

 Exploring Markets and Profits

Thursdays: January 13 – February 17, 2022

Have an idea for a farm enterprise but not sure if it’s feasible? This course will help you explore the potential markets and profitability of your ideas, picking up where BF 101: Starting at Square One (not a prerequisite) left off.

 Getting Started with Pastured Pigs

Mondays: January 10 – February 14, 2022

Pigs can be a profitable stand-alone enterprise, or can be integrated into an existing farm structure, as they provide a variety of products and are also ideal for turning agricultural wastes into valuable products. This course will guide you through the production and marketing of pigs raised in pasture settings.

 Holistic Financial Planning

Tuesdays: January 11 – February 15, 2022

If you’ve been struggling to make your farm operation profitable without driving yourself into the ground, this financial planning course is for you. You will learn how to make financial decisions toward farm and family values and goals.

 Introduction to Beekeeping

Thursdays: January 13 – March 3, 2022

Whether you are currently keeping honey bees or are considering them for your farm, a basic knowledge of bee biology, diseases, pests, and setting up your colony are essential for success. This 8-week course will give you real-world experiences paired with academic concepts.

 Season Extension with High Tunnels

Tuesdays: January 11 – February 15, 2022

Adding weeks to your growing season can mean attaining a premium for having products available well before (or long after) other local growers. This course will introduce you to unheated plastic-covered “high tunnels,” covering cost, management and more.

 Sheep Production

Thursdays: January 13 – February 17, 2022

Have sheep or thinking about getting a flock? Producers of all experience levels will find something for them in this lively, wide-ranging course. There is no one right way to raise sheep — this course covers many of these different options.

 Social Media & Online Marketing

Thursdays: January 13 – February 17, 2022

Are you struggling with questions like what do hashtags do, how to start selling online, are webpages still useful, and more? This new, 5-week course is designed to improve your understanding of social media, online marketing ideas, and tools that may increase sales and increase awareness about your business.

 Vegetable Production II

Wednesdays: January 12 – February 16, 2022

This course continues where BF 120: Vegetable Production I (not a prerequisite) ends, covering vegetable production from transplanting to harvest, including: in-season fertility, integrated pest management, weed control, harvesting, and marketing.

 Woodland Mushroom Cultivation

Tuesdays: January 11 – February 15, 2022

With a bit of practice, mushrooms can be easily grown in the woods on many products. This course trains new and experienced farmers in the background, techniques, and economics of farm-scale woodland mushroom production.

 Writing a Business Plan

Mondays: January 10 – February 14, 2022

Arm yourself with a business plan and you will have a guide to aid your farm decision-making and demonstrate to yourself and your family that your ideas are feasible. This course is designed to help you build your plan, including developing financial statements.

You can browse all of our course offerings and learn more about our courses, including answers to common questions, on our website at:  


Join Our Soil Health Sessions at the Empire State Producers EXPO

This year’s Empire State Producers EXPO is returning to an in-person event from January 11 to 13, 2022, at the Syracuse OnCenter, following all local and state health and safety guidance. This annual conference serves NYS vegetable and fruit growers and gathers almost 1,000 attendees over 3 days, offering educational workshops on a broad range of topics and an expansive trade show featuring ag support and supply businesses.

New this year, programming on Thursday, January 13, will be focused on workshops of interest to small-scale and beginning farmers and produce farms using organic and ecologically based management. Production-centered sessions will cover: pests and disease, high tunnels, organic apples, cut flowers, organic alliums, agroforestry, cover crops for weed management, and biocontrol for managing insects.

The Cornell Small Farms Program has organized soil health sessions, including “Strategies for Small Farms” which features mulching, tarping, and cover cropping, and “No-Till in Rolled Cover Crops” which covers both veg transplants and soybeans and dry beans.

First, in “Strategies for Small Farms,” Bob Tuori (Nook & Cranny Farm – Brooktondale, NY) will discuss the use of permanent beds, hay mulch, cover crops and tarps as soil and weed management tools for diversified, small-scale organic vegetable production. Natalie Lounsbury (University of New Hampshire) will then share her research and experience working with farmers using tarps to terminate overwintering cover crops and enhance weed suppression in no-till.

Then we’ll scale up and talk “No-Till in Rolled Cover Crops” with Jean-Paul Courtens (Philia Farm, Johnstown, NY) and Sarah Pethybridge (Cornell University). Courtens will discuss his experimentation with different cereal-legume mixtures, roller crimping, transplanter adjustments, and the potential of this system to suppress weeds and supply nitrogen to summer transplanted crops while Pethybridge will share lessons from research using high residue cover crops as a method to reduce white mold infection in organic soybean and dry bean production.

Come to take ideas on how you can keep more of your soil covered, reduce your inputs, and improve productivity with less tillage on your farm. See the full conference schedule and register at the Empire State Producers EXPO website: 


Agroforestry Team Recaps Webinar Season and Shares New Project

Our agroforestry team just wrapped up our final webinar of the 2021 season, and we covered a lot of ground this year! Topics included woodland mushrooms, growing ginseng, silvopasture, nut production, and a research update from the Cornell Maple program. Recordings from all these events can be found on the Small Farms YouTube page and also are linked at our project page:

The agroforestry team is also working on a new project with some generous funding support from a donor to develop more resources around tree planting for carbon sequestration. Project Drawdown, which focuses on a range of important solutions to climate change, ranks Agroforestry practices and in particular Silvopasture (integrating trees/livestock/forages) as among the best solutions for land use in both reducing emissions and providing farmers with strategies to adapt to changing conditions. We are excited to offer both webinar programming and new resources in 2022 to provide our farmers with more information on this important topic.


Specialty Mushrooms Project Continues to Grow Networks

Interest in mushroom cultivation continues to grow and we are always trying to keep up with demand! We spent much of 2021 in two areas of work; developing our network of Community Mushroom Educators and conducting research trials with mushroom growers and in our research chambers on campus. 

Our team of educators and their project sites come from a variety of backgrounds and have been busy learning, teaching others, and making plans to increase access to mushroom cultivation in the New York City and upstate regions. While COVID meant we had to meet online for much of the program’s initial portions, we were able to safely gather multiple times this summer, with our most exciting collaboration being the shiitake log inoculation event we completed in August, with over a dozen organizations sharing 300 logs. More on this project in the article featured in this issue.

We are also excited to report that we have some production data to share that will help enhance our budgeting and production modeling tools for indoor mushroom production. The data includes projections of average yields for different species (blue oyster, lions mane, black pearl, and chestnut) as well as analysis of the best residency periods for blocks to achieve a profitable yield. This baseline data is supplemented with the generous contributions from five participating farms in a project collaboration with Fungi Ally. These farms provided production and cost data that we could use to produce an analysis of operating costs for mushroom enterprises. Learn more and see the results at:


Aspiring Ag Managers: Registration Now Open for Futuro Financiero Course!

Western New York Producers: Gain management skills and advance your career! Take advantage of this opportunity to enhance the farm business and demonstrate appreciation for skilled and valued employees.

The Futuro Financiero course (formerly the Master Class program) is a professional development course for bilingual and Spanish-speaking farm owners, managers, and employees looking to increase on-farm communication and employee engagement. The class integrates English Language Learning (ELL) into the curriculum to offer students an opportunity to gain confidence while working and communicating in English.


Futuro Financiero – Winter 2022


  • Thursday, February 3, 9:00am-4:00pm
  • Thursday, February 17, 9:00am-4:00pm
  • Thursday, March 3, 9:00am-4:00pm
  • Graduation Celebration: Saturday, March 5, 4:00pm-7:00pm

Location: Western New York Lake Ontario Region (Orleans, Monroe, or Wayne County). Note: Final location will be determined in collaboration with attending students to best fit their schedule. 

Eligibility: Spanish-speaking, bilingual, and other farm owners and employees currently working within multi-lingual agricultural environments in the Western NY-Lake Ontario region. Students should be interested in gaining managerial skills, while improving English language communication.

Topics Covered: Team building, on-farm communication, leadership, along with a special focus and introduction to farm-financial management.

Register now for the Winter 2022 Course: 


Inscríbase en el Programa Futuro Financiero para Aspirantes a Gerentes Agrícolas

Productores del Estado de Nueva York: ¡Adquiera habilidades de gestión y construya su carrera agrícola!. Aproveche esta oportunidad para mejorar su negocio agrícola y demuestre su aprecio por sus valiosos y calificados empleados.

El curso Futuro Financiero (Anteriormente Master Class Program) es un curso de desarrollo profesional para propietarios de fincas o negocios agrícolas, gerentes o mandos medios, supervisores, y empleados, bilingües (Inglés y  Español) o solamente español o Inglés que buscan aumentar la comunicación en la finca y el compromiso con los empleados. Las clases integran el Aprendizaje del Idioma Ingles (ELL por sus siglas en Ingles) dentro del plan de estudio para ofrecer a los estudiantes la oportunidad de ganar confianza mientras trabajan y se comunican en Inglés.


Futuro Financiero – Invierno 2022


  • Jueves, 3 de febrero, 9:00am -4:00pm
  • Jueves, 17 de febrero, 9:00am-4:00pm
  • Jueves 3 de marzo, de 9:00am -4:00pm
  • Celebración de la graduación: Sábado, 5 de marzo, de 4:00pm a  7:00pm

Lugar:  En el Oeste de la Región del Lago Ontario (Orleans, Monroe, o Wayne County). Nota: El lugar definitivo se determinará en colaboración con los estudiantes que recibirán el curso para poder adaptarse lo mejor posible a sus horarios. 

Elegibilidad: Personas que hablan español, bilingües, y también propietarios de fincas o negocios agrícolas, y empleados que actualmente se desempeñan en un contexto de trabajo agrícola multilingüe en la Región del Lago Ontario del Oeste del Estado de Nueva York. Los estudiantes deben estar interesados en aprender habilidades de liderazgo y de gestión, al mismo tiempo que mejorar la comunicación en el idioma Inglés.

Temas cubiertos: Trabajo en equipo, comunicación en la finca, liderazgo, junto con un enfoque especial e introducción a la gestión financiera de la finca. 

Regístrese ahora para el Curso de Invierno 2022:


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.