Futuro Project Continues Summer Outreach with Suffolk County Visit

“Ask Long Islanders, we live for this time of year,” Vanessa Lockel, executive director of CCE Suffolk, stated as we drove past the spectacular scenery of Eastern Long Island farm fresh vegetable stands, fields of sunflowers, vineyards, and orchards all in peak season glory. The mid-July visit to the region by our Futuro project team (Mildred Alvarado and Nicole Waters) was well timed and ripe to explore collaborative opportunities and connections between the extensive, downstate CCE Suffolk offices and the upstate, campus-based Cornell Small Farms Program. 

Over the course of two action-packed days, the Futuro project team explored the Long Island agricultural sector, from busy Brentwood farmers markets to meticulously manicured Mattituck vineyards. The take away was clear — Long Island hosts a vibrant and dynamic agricultural sector full of dedicated farmers growing some of New York State’s finest fresh market produce with high consumer demand. Nonetheless, farmers here share similar challenges to their upstate peers, facing tight margins and little room for error.

Throughout the visit our Futuro team participated in bilingual conversations with the individuals actively engaged and invested in the region’s success and sustainability. Vanessa Lockel (Executive Director) and Nora Catlin (Ag Program Director) of CCE Suffolk extended the warmest welcome imaginable to our team, opening doors and making introductions all along the way. Without exception, the need for Spanish-first and bilingual educational resources was expressed unanimously by farm owners, employees, and managers, as well as by service providers and ag administrators alike. 

As 2022 unfolds, we intend to expand educational resources and opportunities to the vast Spanish-language and multicultural farming community of Suffolk County. Long Islanders are savvy and smart, representing the diversity of New York State agriculture and the possibilities of upstate-to-downstate connections are endlessly positive for our state’s future agricultural success.

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.