Federal matching grant promotes local foods through beds and breakfasts

A federal matching grant will boost local food producers and tourism by encouraging bed and breakfast operators to feature locally produced food and agricultural products. New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine announced the $73,824 grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP). New York is one of 19 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to receive 25 grants. The Department will receive the grant in cooperation with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, which will lead the two-year project, NOFA-NY, the Empire State B&B Association, Central New York Bounty, the New York Small Scale Food Processors Association and the University of Illinois Extension.

“This continues our efforts to boost locally produced food products in New York and to encourage agri-tourism,” said Commissioner Aubertine. “This is another market channel for our local producers that will help them build their business.”

“FSMIP provides our state partners with matching funds to explore new and innovative approaches to marketing U.S. food and agricultural products,” said Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “USDA supports state and local projects ranging from research to retail to ensure that quality American products are marketed efficiently and effectively.”

Steve Miller of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County said, “This is a great opportunity for New York producers to have visitors from outside the State, as well as New Yorkers, to be able to taste the high quality foods we have to offer and to be able to bring some of these back home with them. The project stands to benefit both the tourism and agriculture industries.”

The program will encourage B&B operators to feature locally produced food and agricultural products in meals served to their guests, carry shelf stable local products such as jams, maple syrup and sauces, and to measure the economic impact on producers of sales made through this specialized marketing channel.

All producer organizations and B&B owners are encouraged to participate in the project which will begin this Fall. For more information on how to participate: contact Steve Miller 315 684-3001 x127 or Jonathan Thomson at .

The growing season is still in full swing, but here at the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project, we’re already thinking about “education season”. This Fall we’ll be offering 7 online courses – including 4 new topics – to help you continue your farming education. As always, our courses are taught by experienced Cooperative Extension educators, farmers, and other specialists. Courses are typically 6 weeks long, cost $175, and include both real-time meetings (online webinars) and on-your-own time reading and activities. We do not offer any academic credit, but those who successfully complete a course will receive a certificate and are also eligible for Farm Service Agency (FSA) borrower training credit, which can improve eligibility to receive a low-interest FSA loan.

We’ve got several courses that will help you build the “invisible infrastructure” of your farm business:

Our introductory-level course for those still in the exploring and early planning stages, BF 101: Square One, is back, to help you get clear about your goals, skills, and available resources.
If you’re well beyond that stage and ready to write a full business plan, sign up for the BF 202: Planning to Stay in Business course, which will help you prepare to seek funding from banks and other lenders
Need some guidance setting up financial recordkeeping systems? Then BF 104: Financial Records is for you.
On the production side, we offer:

BF 120: Veggie Farming – back by popular demand, this jam-packed course has now been divided into two parts (with BF 121 being offered in January). BF 120 covers the planning, budgeting, site selection, and planting, while BF 121 will pick up where BF 120 leaves off and take you through considerations in season-long care, harvest, and marketing.
Raising poultry is a popular enterprise for many small farmers, so this Fall we’re introducing a new course, BF 130: Poultry Production, to cover the basic requirements of producing and profiting from chickens, ducks, and turkeys.

Before you sink a lot of money into equipment, consider taking BF 105: Machinery and Equipment, another new course designed to help you weigh your options and make smart decisions about what’s best for your farm scale and situation.
BF 110: Soil Health returns again this Fall to introduce growers at all levels of experience to practical on-farm applications of soil health concepts. This course will again incorporate an optional in-person field day at an amazing farm in Northern NY that will demonstrate improvement of soil health on a working farm.
To learn more about each course, please visit https://nebeginningfarmers.org/online-courses . From this site you can see our full calendar of courses, learn more about our instructors, see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, read details for each course, and even visit a sample online course.

Courses often fill very quickly, so don’t miss your chance to sign up today!

Development of new online courses has been partially funded by the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program, project #2009-49400-05878. Course coordination is provided by the Cornell Small Farms Program, http://www.smallfarms.cornell.edu.

You’ve been wondering about that wind mill that went up down the road for a while now. Or you’ve been curious about those solar panels on the neighbor’s barn that you watched fall into place, piece by piece. How much did those installations cost? How much electricity do they provide? Could you afford to do the same?

Well, now you can get plugged in to the details of renewable energy at a farm near you – without having to peek over the fence. During the month of September, four farms around New York will open their doors to the public for a guided tour of their energy saving stategies and renewable energy systems.

This year’s farm energy field days include something for everyone. Tim and Jean at Dorpers Sheep Farm will teach a do-it-yourself solar electric and solar thermal workshop. Jay and Polly Armour at Four Winds Farm will describe their professionally installed PV electric system and share other techniques to reduce fossil fuel use. Jan and Ron Bever live off the grid at at Highland Hills Maple Sugar Farm and are eager to show you how to do the same. According to Jan Bever at Highland Hills Maple Sugar Farm, “you can afford renewable energy if you can buy a used car”. And finally, Dani Baker and David Belding at Cross Island Farms will lead a tour of their brand new 10KW wind turbine and a 7KW solar array. Combined with a 17kw back-up generator for emergencies, it is expected that this project will supply almost all of the farm’s need for electricity.

All the field days are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served. For specific dates, times, and locations, see below. Please contact Violet Stone at 607-255-9227 or vws7@cornell.edu to register.
The Farm Energy Field Day are sponsored by the Cornell Small Farms Energy Project Team and funded by Northeast SARE (Sustainable Ag Research and Education). To learn more about either of these organizations, visit www.smallfarms.cornell.edu or www.nesare.org

Region: Catskills, Delaware County
September 9, 2011. 10:00am – noon. CMP Dorpers Sheep Farm. 339 Abe Boice Rd. Sidney Center, NY 13839. Tim and Jean McCumber raise a pasture based flock of 50 Dorper sheep on their 58 acre farm. Tim installed their 6.72 kwh grid tied solar PV electric system (with financial help from the NY Power Authority) and an evacuated tube hot water system. The farmhouse also features a high efficiency propane furnace and radiant heat. If you are looking for some great do-it-yourself tips, this farm tour is for you! Tim and Jean will be available to answer any questions on how to install your own systems. To register, contact Violet Stone at 607-255-9227 or .

Region: Hudson Valley, Ulster County
September 12, 2011. 10am – noon. Four Winds Farm. 158 Marabac Rd. Gardiner, NY 12525. Jay and Polly Armour operate a 24 acre diversified organic farm. The farm raises produce, heirloom seedlings, grass-fed beef, pasture raised turkeys, and intermittently pasture-raised pork and eggs. The centerpiece of the operation is passive-solar heated and earth-cooled straw-bale vegetable barn with attached greenhouse. A 14-kw grid-intertied PV electric system is situated on the barn roof, which is being financed by a combination of a NYSERDA grant and a low-interest loan. A permanent raised bed system in the vegetable garden requires very little tractor time and hence very minimal fuel use. The Armours also transport vegetables to market in a diesel van converted to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO). More info on the farm at http://users.bestweb.net/~fourwind/ To register, contact Violet Stone at 607-255-9227 or .

Region: Central NY, Montgomery County
September 23rd. 10am – Noon. Highland Hills Farm. 227 Green Road North. Charleston, NY 12072. Jan and Ron Bever operate their house, barn and sugar shack entirely off the grid. They use two Southwest Windpower microturbines that generate 400 watts each and six 120 watt solar panels, along with 12 Trojan T-105 batteries to store the power. Jan and Ron installed all the systems themselves with the help of their neighbors. They are planning to harvest 100 gallons of sap next season from their 15 acre sustainably managed sugar bush. Jan promises you don’t need a lot of money to get started in renewable energy. If you are looking for a do-it-yourself, affordable approach to renewable energy, come meet Jan and Ron! More info on the farm at https://sites.google.com/site/highlandhillsfarm/ To register, contact Violet Stone at 607-255-9227 or

Region: Thousand Islands – Seaway, Jefferson County
September 28th, 2011. 10:00am – Noon. Cross Island Farms. 44301 Cross Island Rd. Wellesley Island, NY 13640. Dani Baker and David Belding are the owners of this highly diversified organic farm, with retail sales of vegetables, eggs, beef, chicken, goat and pork. Dani and David will lead us on a tour of their recently completed sustainable energy project, including a 10KW wind turbine and a 7KW solar array. Combined with a 17kw back-up generator for emergencies, it is expected that this project will supply almost all of the farm’s need for electricity. The wind and solar are grid-connected with net metering so no back up battery system is required. The farm is also an international agri-tourism destination, offering educational organic farm tours and on-farm primitive camping. Cross Island Farms is certified organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC. Find directions to the farm at www.crossislandfarms.com To register, contact Violet Stone at 607-255-9227 or


The University of Vermont (UVM) Extension’s New Farmer Project recently launched the Vermont Agriculture Land Access Database to help connect farmers seeking land and business opportunities with land and farm owners with available resources.  The database was created to provide a means for new, expanding or relocating farmers to search for land or farms for lease or sale at agricultural or fair market value, partnerships, farm transition arrangements, work exchanges and farm employment opportunities throughout and within 50 miles of Vermont.

Established farmers interested in providing access to land or transitioning their operations can list their information in the database. So can landowners not currently farming who wish to develop tenure arrangements such as lease-to-own, farm management or owner-financed farm sales.

The database may be accessed at www.uvm.edu/newfarmer. Click on “Land Access Database” under “Quick Links.” Farm seekers may search the database or submit information about their specific requirements for land, jobs or business arrangements. Farm and landowners are encouraged to publicize available land and other resources and opportunities.

Depending on how the landowner chooses to list the information, individuals may contact the owner directly or work with UVM Extension land access specialists to learn more. In addition, these Extension consultants are available to help farmers assess their needs and explore various types of farm tenure arrangements. They also serve as a third-party facilitator for negotiations between incoming farmers and landowners. For more information, contact Ben Waterman at or .

Greetings fellow Beginning Farmer service providers!

Please mark your calendars for the next meeting of the Northeast Beginning Farmer Learning Network meeting to be held September 29-30, 2011.  Join us for another great day of learning, sharing and networking!

This year, the agenda will be based on the highest priority topics that emerged from our last survey of the network including: economic development and measuring the impact of beginning farmers, financing issues and programs, beginning farmer competencies, and policy issues. These topics will continue conversations begun during our summer webinar series.

We’ll be conferencing at The Century House Hotel in beautiful Latham, NY (in the Albany, NY area). Conference activities include networking, seminars, discussions, poster sessions, a great keynote speaker, and of course enjoying a wonderful menu of local foods!

Registration Information (to be determined)

Agenda (to be determined)


Are you a Beginning Farmer service providing organization who is not on our list yet? Join us! Please email us or comment below so you can participate in the conversation about how we can better serve and support Beginning Farmers in the Northeast!