The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announces the availability of approximately $10 million in competitive grant funds for fiscal year (FY) 2011 to increase domestic consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities. Examples of direct producer-to-consumer marketopportunities include new farmers markets, roadside stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, agri-tourism activities, and other direct producer-to-consumer infrastructure. AMS requests proposals from eligible entities within the following categories: agricultural cooperatives, producer networks, producer associations, local governments, nonprofit corporations, public benefit corporations, economic development corporations, regional farmers market authorities, and Tribal governments. The minimum award per grant is $5,000 and the maximum award per grant is $100,000.  No matching funds are required.  Applications must be delivered no later than July 1, 2011.  For more information, visit

The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc. (NOFA-NY) announces a new way for New York Beginning Farmers to access on-farm and conference-style group-based agricultural education this summer and fall.  Farmers who are still in training as farm apprentices, or who have started to operate a farm enterprise within the last ten years are eligible for these scholarships, which remove the cost barrier of attending an event through free registration.  Around twenty scholarships will be awarded to qualified candidates interested in attending a NOFA-NY Beginning Farmer Workshop (seven remain this season); other funds are set aside for beginning farmers who are interested in a specific NOFA-NY Organic Field Day being offered this summer and fall.  Four farmers will receive full scholarships to attend the NOFA-NY day-long workshop on membership-based farming (Community Supported Agriculture) in Western New York, to be held on September 18th, 2011.  For more information on NOFA-NY 2011 Organic Field Days, visit  At least twenty New York beginning farmers will be awarded scholarships to the NOFA Summer Conference to be held in Amherst, MA from August 12th-14th, 2011 through a standard region-wide process.  Information on this scholarship opportunity and event is posted at Ten farmers will be awarded scholarships to the NOFA-NY Dairy and Field Crops Conference, to be held in Syracuse, NY on November 4th, 2011.

These scholarships award free registration to the desired event as well as benefits of NOFA-NY membership, including reduced or free admission to further NOFA-NY and NOFA interstate educational and networking events.   For more details about these scholarships and beginning farmer programs, contact the NOFA-NY Beginning Farmer Coordinator, Rachel Schell-Lambert at (585) 271-1979 ext. 511.  These scholarships are made possible with funding from the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2010-49400-21847.

The 2011 summit scheduled for Friday, April 15th will begin with an opening plenary session featuring the nationally-known speaker, Joel Salatin, a self-described environmentalist capitalist lunatic farmer, or, as the New York Times calls him, “the high priest of the pasture.” You may remember him from The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which he was profiled at length by Michael Pollan.

Seven breakout sessions will follow designed to support the previously noted topics.  These sessions will begin with a panel organized to stimulate a free flow of ideas between the group leaders and participants and be followed by a networking lunch and a series of related exhibits. Finally, a closing session will reframe the issues from the participant’s point of view and lead us toward next steps to support an active, sustainable local farming community. And, in 2012 we will plan to do it again even bigger and better after a year of experience and newly forged alliances.

This conference is the first step in helping to expand viable pathways for meeting the growing demand for local food in western New York.  Education is the building block of understanding and change.  In gathering this diverse group of planners and participants, we hope to continue to make positive change through our network of organizations.

Several very successful farm-oriented programs are underway, from Sustainable Long Island‘s student-run markets in underserved communities, to Long Island Community Agricultural Network’s (LICAN) community garden in Huntington Station, to Suffolk County’s Victory Garden Task Force to the Town of Oyster Bay’s Girl Scout garden at the farm that grows vegetables for the hungry. But there is no single avenue for all of these efforts to come together in one place.

The Small Farm Initiative has the potential to bring together hundreds of people in Nassau and Suffolk Counties as well as Westchester and New York City with the goal of expanding the source of locally grown food.  If successful, this engaging topic will create opportunities for groups who have not traditionally worked together to rally around the most pertinent issue of food.

NSLA, an almost eight-year-old land trust, hopes to increase land protection efforts by building stronger relationships between land and people not only in our designated area of Long Island’s North Shore but throughout our community.  Land on which people are being productive and in which farmers see a bright future, is simply less attractive to development.

Click here to learn more about the summit and to register

GAPs for Small Farms: Dispelling Myths, Getting the Facts, and Designing a Food Safety Plan for Your Farm

Dates:   Wednesday, March 23rd and Thursday, March 24th

Times:   8:30am – 3:30pm both days

Loc.:       Geneva Experimental Station, Food Research Lab Room 251

630 W. North St., Geneva, NY 14456

Cost:      $80 (NOFA-NY members), $100 (non-NOFA-NY members). Price includes food, materials packet, and digital resources. $20 for one additional representative on Day 2 (see below for details).

In recent years, produce related foodborne illnesses have hit the media and impacted fresh fruit and vegetable growers. One of the impacts is a new food safety law that will bring changes to the fresh produce industry and likely affect producers both large and small. Many producers are nervous about what this could mean for their farm business. Join NOFA-NY and Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Betsy Bihn, Robert Hadad, and Craig Kahlke for a 2-day intensive workshop that will help you understand food safety risks and implement food safety practices. This training will be good for any producer interested in taking a proactive approach to food safety, and especially useful for anyone who is interested in selling to large retailers, institutional markets, or other buyers who require GAPs certification.

On Day 1, Betsy, Robert, and Craig will offer producers an in-depth look at GAPs, how and where microbial contamination can occur, and how to use the GAPs standards to write a farm produce safety plan. Also on Day 1, NYSDAM’s Wendy Ingersoll, Mike Farwell, and Mike Santoro will describe the GAPs audit and answer your questions about this procedure.

On Day 2, we will break out the laptops and the extension educators will help you write your own farm produce safety plan. NYSDAM personnel will be back on Day 2 to field more questions about audits as you work through your plan. For Day 2, you will need to bring a laptop with Microsoft Word. If you do not have a laptop, there will be a limited number of laptops available for you to borrow- please let us know as soon as possible if you need to borrow one! If you would like to bring along a more computer-savvy employee of your farm on Day 2, the cost is only $20 for this additional person to cover the cost of food. Your registration includes lunch, snacks, and coffee, as well as a packet of food safety reference materials and digital files of food safety resources. An on-farm food safety consultation generally costs about $100/hour, so this is a great value!

Pre-registration is required, and the deadline to sign up is Sunday, March 20th. To register for this workshop, visit the NOFA-NY website:, or call our office at (585) 271-1979, ext. 509. Space is limited, so register today!

From UVM Extension New Farmer Project & Law for Food Webinar

Founders of Law for Food, Kenneth Miller and Adam Prizio provide legal support specifically tailored to meet the business and legal needs of small-scale farmers and food entrepreneurs. This presentation will focus on hiring and managing employees, handling on-farm work stays, internships, and volunteer labor. Legal distinctions between interns and employees, as well as the fine line separating independent contractors from employees will be discussed. Other topics to be covered include worker’s compensation, unemployment, H2A visas, wage & hours statutes, worker accommodations and workplace safety. More than a dry discussion of the law, this session will examine the real costs of hiring and training workers in the context of the financial realities of an agricultural business, with a view to understanding how business owners can manage the business, and their employees, profitably.

Newcomers to online learning are welcome. All you need to participate is internet access and a computer that you can hear sound through.

To participate, please go to at about 11:45 am Eastern time on March 10, 2011.  For more information, contact or call 802-223-2389×203. If you require accommodations to participate in this program, please let Mary Peabody know by March 5 at 802-223-2389 or 1-866-860-1382 (toll-free  in Vt.) or so we may assist you.

If you have not participated in a webinar before, we recommend you download the necessary software for free the day before the webinar is scheduled at