Recruiting the “Futuro” Ag Managers

In my first few months working with the Cornell Small Farms Program as the new LatinX Farmer Training Coordinator, I have already begun to meet with farmers and hear their stories to help inform our growing bilingual program offerings.

On December 16, 2021, I visited Orleans County to talk with farmers and their farm employee candidates to promote our 2022 Winter farm management course, Futuro Financiero. It was inspiring to meet with both farm employees and farm owners! Their skills in the supervision of farm employees (many of whom are from Mexico, Guatemala, and Jamaica), ability to communicate in both English and Spanish, and profound commitment to the farm and their work were greatly admirable.

These skilled farm employees discussed their duties, including managing the crew farming staff, implementing the agricultural production side activities, and making decisions in the day-to-day operation of the farm. Simultaneously, farm owners expressed the challenges they face, including labor management, marketing, climate change, high input prices, and more. Both farmers and farm employees agreed on the need for improving their farm business management and supervision skills. 

The Cornell Small Farms team and partners facilitated this important conversation, listening carefully, and sometimes interpreting between languages as the conversation unfolded. The simple opportunity to listen, learn about their experience, and have a laugh reminds me of why I joined this team. For one whole day, we spoke and listened attentively as farmers and farm workers held open and honest conversations, and our objective to recruit farm participants began to take shape.

I am excited to build a long-term bilingual program where the entire community of farmers and farm employees feel represented, have access to bilingual education, and understand each other’s culture and goals. Starting with diverse, and inclusive conversations, we will promote more important dialogues that will change the course of New York’s agricultural industry in a profitable and resilient way.

Mildred Alvarado

Mildred is the LatinX Farmer Training Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. Her work is focused on building bridges to facilitate knowledge and help farmers to overcome linguistic, cultural, and technical barriers to promote inclusive and profitable businesses. Coming from a farm facing the challenges that many still face, the program’s mission is close to home for her. The soil of her Honduran farm taught her how to survive, fueled her body, and her dreams which have brought her here to the Cornell Small Farms Program team.