News from the Cornell Small Farms Program, Spring 2022

The Cornell Small Farms Program is excited to announce the expansion of our team with three new additions!

In our growing efforts to serve the Spanish-speaking farmer community, we have Mildred Alvarado and Hannah Rae Warren joining our LatinX farmer project. Mildred grew up on a small subsistence farm in western Honduras and has followed her interest in farming through two master’s degrees and a PhD. She most recently worked on promoting a sustainable agricultural sector throughout the supply chain in Central America and the U.S. As the LatinX Farmer Training Coordinator, Mildred will be focused on building bridges to facilitate knowledge and help farmers to overcome linguistic, cultural, and technical barriers to promote inclusive and profitable businesses. 

Hannah Rae will be working jointly with our program and the New York State Integrated Pest Management (NYSIPM) in a newly-created Bilingual Project Specialist position. After pursuing an undergraduate degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell, Hannah Rae followed her passion for local food around the world. She eventually moved to Costa Rica and completed a master’s degree furthering her work in sustainable agriculture. In her new position, Hannah Rae will work on building relationships throughout our local and regional food system, and supporting pathways for Spanish speakers to pursue farming and adopt IPM practices.

We’ve also welcomed Bailey Colvin to our Farm Ops project, as our support of veterans in agriculture continues to expand. Bailey’s primary goal with the Farm Ops project is to get to know our veterans, their backgrounds, and what transferable skills they carry from their military careers. She will work with our team and partners to effectively support the lifestyle change they are seeking. The education, training, and resources provided help afford veterans many opportunities to explore their interests with purposeful connections to their communities through agriculture and farming.

Learn more about our team on our About page: 


Learn About Tarping on Northeast Farms with New Guide

Are you curious about how tarps work? Want to learn from successful practices as well as the challenges and shortcomings?

Our Reduced Tillage project is happy to share a new publication, “Tarping in the Northeast: A Guide for Small Farms,” that provides comprehensive information on the emerging practice of tarping — applying reusable tarps to the soil surface between crops and then removing them prior to planting — for weed and soil management. This guide is intended for both beginning and experienced farmers.

Based on research and farmer experience, the guide covers a range of management practices from using tarps for weed seed depletion, minimal tillage, and cover crop-based no-till, and uses case studies to highlight the methods of farmers across the Northeast. By combining the details of tarp logistics and management alongside the science of the practice, it is designed to support farmers in learning more about tarping and how to implement it to improve soil and weed management on their farm.

Ryan Maher, our Reduced Tillage project specialist, is a co-author on the publication. Maher has led tarping research experiments and worked with farmers to learn how they work and how to use them in reduced and no-till vegetable production.

“Tarps are a really multifunctional tool for small farms that help us get past some of the basic challenges using less tillage,” Maher said. “When we ask farmers how they work, we come up with a long list, then add a few jabs about the logistics. This guide puts all this practical information into one place, highlights successful farmers, and adds what we are learning through applied research, where still have a long way to go to understand what’s happening under there.”

The guide is a product of the NE IPM Working Group on Tarping and Soil Solarization, a project led by Sonja Birthisel at UMaine, that brought together institutions, educators, and farmers across the Northeast region to connect the dots on what was happening with tarping in the Northeast, share resources, identify knowledge gaps and discuss future research directions. The guide was a collaborative effort, authored by Birthisel, Natalie Lounsbury at University of New Hampshire, Jason Lilley at UMaine Extension and Maher. 

You can find a link to the guide as well as other tarping resources on the Cornell Small Farms Program’s Reduced Tillage project’s tarping webpage: 


Farm Ops Veteran Project Aims to Increase Training Opportunities for Veterans Throughout the State

Farm Ops, our military veteran project, partnered with the Canandaigua Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) for a third year to increase training opportunities for veterans throughout NYS. These trainings will be both virtual and in-person, and who better to host and coordinate these events but Cornell Cooperative Extensions (CCEs). As Farm Ops expands collaboration with CCE educators across the state, there will be an increase in the number of veteran in-person events. Be on the lookout for upcoming trainings, both virtual and in-person, on a variety of horticulture, agricultural, and farm business topics. 

Check out our Farm Ops Event Series page: 

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.