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Pocantico Hills, NY (December 7, 2012)On December 12, the first day of its popular annual Young Farmers Conference, Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture will launch the Virtual Grange, an online hub for beginning farmers that will include a wide range of resources to help these farming entrepreneurs succeed.

The Virtual Grange is the first of its kind—a comprehensive online site where beginning, sustainability-minded farmers can find technical tutorials, learn about innovations in sustainable farming and connect with mentors and peers. It is by farmers and for farmers: while maintained by Stone Barns Center, with resources from its own farmers and apprentices, in time much of the site’s content will be contributed by the broader community of farmers.

“After working with beginning farmers for many years, we know that the Virtual Grange is an essential tool that’s been sorely lacking in the young-farmer space,” says Nena Johnson, director of Stone Barns Center’s Growing Farmers Initiative. “It’s designed to bring beginning farmers together to think creatively and solve some of the toughest problems facing agriculture today.”

Historically, far-flung American farmers gathered in the local grange hall to socialize, organize and share experiences. (“Grange” means farm, from the medieval Latin “granica,” or grain.) But as small farms disappeared over the past several decades, so too did these community meeting places. The Virtual Grange is a new type of grange hall for a new generation of farmers who embrace sustainable agriculture. While the average age of U.S. farmers today is 57, the average age of organic farmers is 34. Most did not grow up on farms and lack the practical and technical skills to help them succeed in their chosen field.

The Virtual Grange will launch during the 2012 Young Farmers Conference, the 5th annual meeting of beginning farmers hosted by Stone Barns Center. More than 250 young and beginning farmers from across the United States and Canada will gather in Pocantico Hills for the event, held December 12 – 14. This year, Adam Davidson, co-founder and co-host of Planet Money, a co-production of NPR and This American Life, and a New York Times columnist, will deliver the keynote address.

Over the course of three days, conference-goers will attend a range of 60 workshop offerings and network with peers and mentors, helping them build the community necessary to support their farm enterprises in the seasons to come. New in the 2012 conference lineup are a half-day pre-conference session on soil and biochar organized by Johannes Lehmann, of Cornell University’s Department of Crop and Soil Sciences; and a Business Planning Track, a five-workshop series focused on establishing systems to promote efficiency and helping farmers find their market niche. Panel discussions will feature experts and leaders in farm-based education, the co-operative business model, agriculture and ethics, and new-farmer case studies.

Since 2008, demand for the beginning farmer education offered at the Young Farmers Conference has grown exponentially. This year’s conference sold out in 36 hours.

For more information on the Virtual Grange:

For more information on Stone Barns Center and the Young Farmers Conference:

Whether you are a seasoned, new, or aspiring farmer, there’s something for you in the 2012-2013 line-up of online courses presented by the Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension. View all 12 courses here.

There are courses covering commercial production topics like raising veggies, berries, and poultry, and many more covering management of a successful farm, including business planning, holistic financial planning, marketing, and getting started in farming.

Take advantage of this opportunity to interact with other farmers, develop your farming plans, and learn new skills from the comfort of your own home. Most courses are 6 weeks long and a bargain at $200 each.

Learn more at

The New Farmer Training Program and Agricultural Incubator at the Seed Farm in Emmaus Pennsylvania is now accepting applications for the 2013 season.

This intensive organic vegetable training program includes 500 hours of on farm training and 100 hours of formal workshops and classes. Participants build skills and create their own production and business plans. Graduates of the training program qualify for the agricultural incubator where they can farm on county owned land with access to equipment, greenhouse/ cooler space and continued mentorship.

Applications are due October 15, 2012.

During the training program, apprentices build skills in greenhouse production, seeding, transplanting, irrigation, soils, cover crops, pest management, weed management, season extension, and post harvest handling. They also have a crop project in which they develop a comprehensive plan for a particular crop and manage it throughout the season. Trainees also rotate through five management areas: greenhouse, compost, farmers market, cover crop, and high tunnel where they make key decisions and delegate tasks with the support of the farm manager. Equipment training is an emphasis at the Seed Farm. We have a wide range of seeding, transplanting, cultivation, and soil tillage tools that are demonstrated and used at the farm. On-farm training is complemented by classroom activities including the following courses organized by Penn State Extension: Exploring the Small Farm Dream, Introduction to Organic Vegetable Production, and Vegetable Business Planner.  In addition, farm visits are arranged through the local CRAFT (Collaborative Alliance for New Farmer Training) apprentice program and PASA (Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture).

Pennsylvania is a wonderful place to learn to farm. In addition to the Seed Farm there is a fabulous community of mentor farmers through the Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) which the Seed Farm participates in; the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), the New Jersey Organic Farming Association (NOFA NJ), and Penn State Extension – Start Farming programs provide a wide assortment of workshops and resources in this area.

For more information and application materials visit or call Seed Farm Director Sara Runkel (610) 391-9583 ex.16. Applications are due October 15, 2012.

Mon. June 25, 12pm – 1pm
A Lunchtime Learning webinar from the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project at the Cornell Small Farms Program. This webinar is intended for ag professionals serving beginning farmers, or for new and aspiring farmers in MA and NY seeking to learn about programs that may benefit them.

Jennifer Hashley will discuss how the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project model provides constructive environments and strategies that support new producers and create opportunities for new farmers to strengthen agricultural capacities, share learning experiences, and build better communities.  She will discuss their farm business planning courses, field trainings, incubator farm programs, food hub/collaborative marketing support, farmland matching services, livestock programming, and statewide service provider alliances.  New Entry has built a comprehensive suite of new farmer support services for diverse, multi-cultural adult learners and Jennifer will share best practices, lessons learned, and New Entry’s 14 years of experience in supporting new farmers.

Joanna Green will describe Groundswell’s current suite of programs for beginning farmers, including a 100-hour Sustainable Farming Certificate Program; Finger Lakes CRAFT; Farm Business Planning Course; and Farm Enterprise Incubator. She’ll discuss how Groundswell taps into a community of experienced Mentor Farmers to deliver most of the training modules, and how they work with a variety of partners in the community to reach out to diverse trainees. She will also talk about program revenue structures, funding sources and funding challenges.

Register now!

Jennifer Hashley is the Director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a partnership project between the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and Community Teamwork, Inc. of Lowell. New Entry Sustainable Farming Project is a beginning farmer training program that assists limited-resource individuals to begin small-scale commercial agriculture in Massachusetts as a way to preserve farmland and to expand consumer access to locally-grown foods. Jennifer is also a vegetable and livestock farmer and raises chickens, eggs, pork, sheep, rabbit, and specialty vegetables in Concord, MA. 

Joanna Green has been the director of GroundswellCenter for Local Food and Farming–a fledgling agriculture education nonprofit based in Ithaca, NY, operating under the Center for Transformative Action and EcoVillage at Ithaca– since 2009 when she retired from Cornell University after 23 years in the Cooperative Extension system.  She served as Extension Associate with the Cornell Small Farms Program and as Senior Extension Associate with Cornell’s Community, Food and Agriculture Program and Farming Alternatives Program. 

Register now!

TARRYTOWN, NY:  Every December, over 250 young farmers from across the United States gather at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture to learn from agricultural luminaries, peers, and advocacy organizations at the National Young Farmers Conference: Reviving the Culture of Agriculture. On December 12-14, 2012, Stone Barns Center will host the fifth National Young Farmers Conference, providing participants with access to inspiring keynotes and more than 50 unique workshops that address soil science, technical skills, agricultural policy, farm business management, marketing, and more.

Requests for Proposals:
The Growing Farmers Initiative at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is now accepting workshop proposals for the 5th annual National Young Farmers Conference, December 12-14, 2012.To submit a workshop for consideration, please complete an online proposal. All proposals must be received by 11:59PM on July 6, 2012.

Submission of a proposal does not guarantee its acceptance. A planning committee will review all proposals based on content and programming needs. All applicants will be notified regarding the status of their proposal by late July. Should you have questions or concerns regarding the proposal process, please contact melw@stonebarnscent

Learn more about the Growing Farmers Initiative and the Young Farmers Conference.

SARANAC LAKE — Adirondack Sustainable Communities (ASC) was awarded a grant from the Farm Credit Ag Enhancement program for an Adirondack Park farm land mapping project to connect farmers with landowners who may want to lease or sell their land.  The goal of the program is to strengthen the agriculture industry in the Adirondacks by increasing the amount of farm land in production.  ASC will analyze existing Federal, State and County data to identify existing property use and current landowners of areas with suitable agricultural soils.  A user friendly computer mapping program will be developed to display this information with the goal to connect aspiring farmers with landowners interested in turning their properties into active farm land. Learn More about Adirondack Sustainable Communities (ASC)

USDA is seeking comments on a proposal to improve its Operating Loan Program to better meet the needs of small farmers through a new microloan program. Under the microloan proposal, producers who need a loan for less than $35,000 may apply using simplified and streamlined procedures. To comment, visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal and follow the online instructions. Comments should be submitted no later than July 23, 2012

The second Beginning Farmer Learning Group meeting will be held in Washington County on Thursday, June 14 starting at 7:30 P.M.   This meeting is being hosted by Chris Lincoln and Tammara Van Ryn.  Chris and Tammara started New Minglewood Farm in 1999.   The farm is located at 99 County Route 52 Greenwich, NY 12834.

Chris and Tammara use a variety of direct market channels to sell the products they grow.  Currently they are using a combination of farmers markets and selling to local restaurants as their main marketing channels.  They have also used some market channels and have chosen to stop using them for a variety of reasons.  This is your opportunity to come and listen and participate in a discussion on how to develop direct market channels for your farm.

The purpose of the Beginning Farmer Learning Group is to provide an opportunity for those that have been farming less than 10 years to come together and network and learn from each other.  The group will also travel and visit more experienced farmers in the area to learn from them as well.

There is no cost to attend this meeting, but registration is suggested.   Please contact Gale Kohler at 765-3500 or at .  For more information about the learning group, contact Steve Hadcock at or by Email at .

Cornell Cooperative Extension actively supports equal education and employment opportunities.  No person shall be denied admission to any educational program or activity or be denied employment on the basis of any legally prohibited discrimination involving, but not limited to, such factors as race, color, religion, political beliefs, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, or disability.  Cornell Cooperative Extension is committed to the maintenance of affirmative action programs that will assure the continuation of such equality of opportunity.

Farm Start-up Plan

If you have trouble filling in any of the fields in this worksheet, go back to Plan Your Farm and walk through the relevant tutorial, like Getting Started, Choosing What to Produce, Selling Your Products, and Achieving or Improving Profitability.

If veggies or fruits, when will you plant, how will you cultivate or irrigate, and when/how will you harvest, store, and transport the crops? If livestock, when will you breed and birth animals, and when will they be ready for market?
While this is probably the hardest part of your business to nail down when you start, it's the most important to keep chipping away at. Start with thumbnail sketches and estimates and keep refining them based on your experience and research.

Production Plan

As you consider all the various enterprises you will have on your farm, it's essential to understand how they all fit together, what the annual rhythm of tasks will be, and what your labor needs will be over the course of the year. Depending on how advanced you are in your planning, you can fill out this worksheet with ballpark estimations or get very specific with crop varieties and labor demands.

Add a time frame to indicate if this is your plan for next year, 3 years from now, 5 years from now, or beyond. Add quantities you plan to produce of each (if known). Example: 5 years from now we'll be producing and marketing 30 Icelandic lambs/year, 500 Cornish Rock X chickens, and a diverse mix of heirloom vegetables sufficient to supply 80 CSA shares.
Use this space to note questions and unresolved issues, like "how much acreage will be needed for the asparagus?" or "still need to find feed source for chickens"
The labor estimate can be very approximate. For example: the tasks above can be completed by one person working part-time, <20 hrs/week.
Example: In March, we'll begin seeding hundreds of flats of tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. In April, we'll move the pregnant ewes to a separate paddock in preparation for lambing. One person working less than 3 hrs/day can accomplish all of these tasks.

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