Farm Ops Offering NYS Veteran Cohort for Starting at Square One Online Course

Have you transitioned out of the military or are you getting ready to transition and still deciding what you want to do as a second career? Ever thought about working in an agricultural related job or starting a farm business? Farm Ops, the Cornell Small Farms Program’s veteran project, assists veterans in exploring agricultural and farming pursuits.

Farm Ops is building the 2023-24 Starting at Square One Veteran Cohort. This cohort will bring together a group of veterans interested in agriculture or starting a farm business to progress through an educational construct to support them in this exploration and decision-making process.

Cohort participants will receive free enrollment into the Cornell Small Farms Program’s Starting at Square One online course. This six-week course will help veterans think about starting a farm business. Filled with videos and worksheets, this course assists new and aspiring farmers in taking first steps in thinking about a farm business. Students enrolled in this course meet virtually once a week on Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. from September 21 – October 26, 2023 with the course instructor.

Once the Starting at Square One online course is complete, veterans will meet for a series of virtual seminars, taking what they learned and wrote down and turning it into a farm plan that can be executed the following year or when the veteran is ready. For those veterans ready to take the follow-on steps, virtual sessions on “Setting Up a Farm Business” will be available. Facilitators will help veterans assess their needs and work with veterans to find additional resources and possible in-person or virtual one-one-on support sessions. Apply below.

“If it were not for the veteran cohorts, there is absolutely no way my farm would be past even a germinated seeds’ phase of growth,” Navy veteran Lou Russell Jr. said of his 26-acre farm in Galawy, NY, Jireh Organic Farms & Livestock. Read about veterans who have been part of the Starting at Square One Cohort in the past.

Save the Date for Armed to Farm

 During the cohort period, Farm Ops has partnered with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) to sponsor an Armed to Farm event October 16 – 20, 2023, in the Hudson Valley region of NYS. Many of our NYS farmer veterans who have attended this weeklong event, came away feeling more confident in their decision to start or continue to farm. Veterans will spend part of the week in a classroom setting, learning about farm business strategies, farming resources, and so much more. They will also visit multiple local farms to learn how other farmers got started in agriculture and to see the variety of farming opportunities available in NYS and the larger U.S. northeast region.

Learn more about Armed to Farm events. Although Armed to Farm falls within timeframe of the Starting at Square One online course, we recommend being involved in both.

Apply below to request a spot in the 2023-24 Starting at Square One veteran cohort.   If you are a veteran, who has already taken the Starting to Square One online course, you may apply to be part of the cohort. You can also attend the online course virtual sessions again using your access to the course from your previous enrollment. This opportunity is for veterans living in New York State.

Application Deadline – September 6

Nina Saeli

Nina retired from active duty in 2009. She and her husband, Jeffrey, own and operate Centurion Farm in Locke, NY. Nina also now works with the Cornell Small Farms Program as coordinator of our Farm Ops project supporting veterans in agriculture.