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The Cornell Small Farms Program and Northeast Beginning Farmers Project are hiring a full-time Project Coordinator for some new beginning farmer initiatives. Please share this news far and wide so we can recruit a great pool of applicants! Click here to see more details and to apply.

Here are a few details:

This is a 3-year grant-funded full-time position based in Ithaca, NY. The Project Coordinator will oversee all aspects of a USDA project designed to 1) facilitate military veterans entering into farming as a career, and 2) improve long-term viability of”advanced” beginning farmers (defined as farmers operating 3-10 years).

Duties include: Facilitating the development and implementation of project work plans by collaborators for each component of the project, coordinating timelines, managing relationships, synthesizing evaluation data into reports, leading the outreach for the overall project, publicizing events and impacts of the project and collaborating with the SFP outreach staff to achieve these goals.

For requirements and application details, visit the job description page on the Cornell Human Resources site.

Applications are due Jan. 26, so don’t delay!

Registration is now open for all twelve of our online courses for beginning or experienced farmers. Newbies can get some early guidance, hear success stories, and get connected with resources, while more experienced farmers will find courses to help write or revamp a business plan, add new enterprises, and improve profitability.

Online course season kicks off with BF 202, our business planning course, beginning Sept 25. Courses are 5- to 7-weeks long and cost $200. All courses include real-time and on-your-own-time components, with the real-time event being a weekly webinar. We use this time to feature farmers and other experts speaking on a topic relevant to the course. We use a course management system called Moodle as the “classroom” for each course, posting readings, homework, and discussion forums there. Students report spending 3-8 hrs/week to actively participate in the courses, depending on which course you’re taking and how much you want to get out of it.
To learn more, visit our Course Logistics and FAQ page, or begin at the Online Course landing page and browse through individual courses. We hope you’ll join us to build your farming skills this Fall and Winter!

If you want to get an insider’s glimpse at production techniques on well-managed small farms, check out the beautiful videos posted on the Cornell Small Farms Program’s YouTube channel. These concise, high-quality videos showcase everything from seeding to weeding on family-run vegetable and berry farms, all aspects of pastured livestock production, cheese-making, marketing, and more.

If you think these videos are a great resource, please consider supporting the videographer’s effort to produce more free clips! Until Dec. 27, 2013, he’s running crowdfunding campaign. He already has a lot more uncut footage that could be made into clips, including footage from installing a new orchard and demonstrating all aspects of tree fruit management,  farming with draft animals, and building and growing in a hoophouse.

Even if you can’t contribute, please share the campaign with your networks to generate support!

We’ve received thousands of comments from people who found our existing videos helpful in a very practical way: new farmers have developed the confidence to start their farms or tackle a specific farm task while experienced farmers have gotten new ideas to improve their operations. A typical comment we receive is: “I want to thank you for all the generous and detailed information you have shared with the public. It has helped us two city-gone-country people.”

Perfect for alternative Christmas gifts, check out the cool perks available to contributors, including hard copy “sneak previews”, Associate Producer credits on all the videos, free beginning farmer online courses, and more! Gift yourself or the new farmer in your life with extraordinary new farm videos this year!

The campaign ends in Dec. 27, 2013, so please support it by contributing money or spreading the word through your social networks now!

Berries and bramble fruits are popular farm enterprises, and for good reason: when planned and managed well, they can be very profitable, and they make a great add-on to existing enterprises. Whether you’re totally new to farming or are an existing farmer considering diversifying into berry crops, the Cornell Small Farms Program’s online course BF 122: Berry Production – Getting Started with Production and Marketing provides a thorough introduction. You’ll hear practical, on-the-ground tips from successful farmers as well as the latest research and recommendations on site selection, cultural requirements and variety recommendations for major and minor berry fruits, post-harvest handling, and marketing berries.

The course runs Thurs. Nov 21 – Thurs. Dec 12, with webinars twice a week on Tues and Thurs evenings from 7:00-8:30pm EST (skipping Thanksgiving on Thurs. Nov 28. The cost is $200, but multiple people from the same farm may participate without paying extra. See for more on the course learning objectives, instructors, and outline.

BF 122: Berry Production – Getting Started with Production and Marketing is part of the line-up of 12 online courses offered this Fall, Winter and Spring by the Cornell Small Farms Program. To learn more about each course, please visit From this site you can learn more about our instructors, see answers to Frequently Asked Questions, read details for each course, and view the calendar of course offerings for 2013-2014.

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

Whether you’re seeking a loan or just feeling the need to develop a plan to guide your farm business decisions, help is here. The Cornell Small Farms Program offers a 6-week online course called BF 202: Planning for Sustainability – Writing Your Business Plan. The course starts Wed. Oct 23 and covers all the elements typically included in a business plan: goals and mission, operations plan, tactical plan, marketing plan, and financial projections. Each week students will learn about one of these areas and write that section of their own business plan, then submit it to receive feedback from the instructor. The course costs $200 and is available to anyone regardless of geographical location.

To learn more or to register, visit the BF 202: Planning for Sustainability – Writing Your Business Plan course page.

The Cornell Small Farms Program’s popular online courses are now open for registration for the 2013-2014 season. Visit the main online course page to see a list of all courses and links to their full descriptions. Use the seasonal down time to beef up your business and production management skills with courses in book keeping, business planning, planning for profit, and raising poultry, vegetables, and berries! Courses are 6 weeks long and $200 each, and start as early as Oct. 2.

Questions? Check out the Course Logistics and FAQ’s page.

Don’t miss out – many courses fill quickly! Check out the course descriptions and register today!

Registration is now open for the Vermont New Farmer Project farm business classes.  No matter what stage your farm business is in, the New Farmer Project offers classes to help you reach your full potential. Vermont New Farmer Project courses are specifically designed to meet the needs of aspiring and beginning farmers, including topics such as: goal setting, business planning, marketing, and ag financial management.  Not sure which course is right for you? Contact us at or call .

This October:

Growing Places for aspiring and start-up farmers

Where: White River Junction & Burlington, VT
When: 5:30-8:30 pm, Oct. 8, 15, 22, & 29, 2013
Cost: $110-$150. Financial assistance is available for qualified applicants.

This four session course introduces new farmers to important topics, resources and services integral to getting their farm started off right.  Early Registration deadline is September 8, 2013.  Registration is open through September 22, 2013.  Growing Places is also offered as an online course in January, 2014.  Visit  and click on “Classes” for more information, or contact Jessie Schmidt at or .

To request a disability-related accommodation to participate, contact Jessie Schmidt at , or (toll-free in Vermont) by Sept. 22 for the fall offering.

Late Fall & Winter:

Taking Stock, November-January, for farmers with 5 or more years in business.
Building a Sustainable Business December-January, for farmers interested in developing a business plan.
Whole Farm Planning for Beginning Women Farmers, January-June, for women farmers interested in developing farm planning skills.
Introduction to Ag Financial Management, February, for all farmers seeking basic financial knowledge.

In Jan. 2013 the Farm Service Agency announced a new program to provide low-interest loans of up to $35,000 to farmers. In response to the tremendous interest in this new offering, the Cornell Small Farms Program held a webinar on April 10 with Carrie Novak of the FSA to explain the details and answer questions. Here is the streamed recording of this webinar.

So many great questions were asked during the webinar that Carrie summarized these into a Q&A document available for download as a PDF here.

To apply for the loan, visit the FSA website to download an application and instructions.

Ithaca, NY – Are you thinking about farming as a part-time or full-time livelihood? Are you looking for a solid introduction to organic farming principles, practices and business opportunities?

The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is now taking applications for its 2013 Sustainable Farming Certificate Program, as well as several shorter courses.  These programs provide hands-on training in small-scale, commercial organic farming systems and are geared for beginning and aspiring farmers.  

They also appeal to serious homesteaders, agricultural science students, educators, and others who need to deepen their knowledge of sustainable production practices and gain a realistic understanding of the opportunities and challenges involved in small-scale farming.  

“We work hard to attract a diverse group of trainees each year,” says Groundswell Director Joanna Green. “People of all ages and demographics are getting interested in farming, and they all need access to the training and the resources required to be successful.” Groundswell especially encourages people of color to get involved, as well as new Americans, LGBT and others who have sometimes been excluded from the sustainable agriculture/local foods movement.

A campus without walls

Groundswell ‘s courses are taught by experienced farmers on diverse working farms in the Finger Lakes area.  These include West Haven Farm in Ithaca, Northland Sheep Dairy in Marathon, Kingbird Farm in Berkshire, and The Good Life Farm in Interlaken, which serve as the main “Mentor Farms” for Groundswell programs.

 “With Groundswell, you’re getting the best farmers in the area to open up their farms, their business plans, their marketing strategies, growing practices and maybe most importantly, their lifestyles,” says Allan Gandelman of Main Street Farms in Homer, NY. Gandelman and his business partner Bob Cat both participated in Groundswell programs before and during the launch of their innovative indoor farm business, which now produces and markets sustainable-raised Tilapia and specialty greens year-round.

100-Hour Sustainable Farming Certificate Program now in its third season

This is the third season Groundswell is offering its 100-hour Sustainable Farming Certificate Program. The program runs from May 6 to October 26 and provides a well-rounded, in-depth immersion in organic crop and livestock production. It also exposes trainees to a variety of models and mentors for successful small farm management.  The curriculum combines on-farm workshops, classroom training, farm tours, and supervised on-farm work experience.

This year Groundswell is also offering a series of shorter courses for those who don’t want to take on the full 100-hour Certificate Program.  These include several advanced-level Intensives, geared for farmers with at least two years of production experience.

Groundswell’s 2013 Sustainable Farming Programs include:

·         Sustainable Farming Certificate Program: 100 hours, May 6 – October 26

·         Finger Lakes CRAFT: Monthly farm tours and social gatherings

·         Organic Farming Fundamentals: Six sessions, May 8 – June 26.

·         Commercial Organic Vegetable Production Basics: Eight sessions, May 22 – August 28.

·         Organic Livestock Production Basics: Six sessions, July 3 – August 7.

·         Pastured Poultry Intensive: Full-day workshop, Aug 12.

·         Sheep Dairy Intensive: Full-day workshop, Aug 18.

·         Hog Breeding & Farrowing Intensive: Full-day workshop, Sep 16.

·         Draft Horse Intensive: Two-day workshop, Sep 28-29.

·         Poultry Processing Practicum: Full-day workshops, dates TBA.

Tuition for each program is on a sliding scale. Program details and an online application form can be found at  For more information email  or call .

The Groundswell Center for Local Food & Farming is an initiative of the EcoVillage Center for Sustainability Education/Center for Transformative Action.  Support is provided by USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture-USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21799, Park Foundation, and Appalachian Regional Commission’s New Americans Initiative. For more information, visit

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