Staff Info

Anu Rangarajan

Anu Rangarajan has been the Director of the Cornell Small Farm Program since 2004. Since joining the Small Farm Program, Anu has expanded and deepened her appreciation of the innovation and vision of small scale farmers around NY. Her vision for the program is to help support new networks, expanded research and novel extension programs that target small farms in NY.

Anu grew up growing vegetables and flowers for her family. Her love of horticulture led to degrees from Michigan State (BS, PhD) and University of Wisconsin (MS), in floriculture and vegetable production. She has been at Cornell since 1996, as an associate professor and statewide specialist for fresh market vegetable production. Her research interests include tillage, compost use and soil quality in vegetables systems, season extending and stand establishment, and organic production systems. In 2005, she and her husband joined the ranks and started operating a small farm in Freeville NY.

VioletViolet Stone
Program Coordinator

Violet joined the Small Farms Program in 2007. She is originally from northeast Pennsylvania where she grew up on a 600 acre wildlife preserve. After graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in Environmental Studies, Violet worked as as a farmers market manager, local foods educator and farm direct-marketing consultant in the Hudson Valley, New York. She spent several years on the west coast, working with diversified vegetable farms in Washington and California. In 2005, she earned a Certificate in Agroecology from the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Violet is an aspiring farmer and can be found at the Ithaca Farmers Market on the weekends, where she sells specialty cut flowers.

Erica Frenay
Beginning Farmer Project Co-Coordinator

Erica began working for the Small Farms Program in January 2006. A former co-manager of Cornell’s student-run farm, she graduated from Cornell in 1998 and moved to Oregon to serve in AmeriCorps. Erica spent 6 years in the Pacific Northwest, working as Project Coordinator for an agricultural land trust and then as Executive Director of an urban educational farm in Portland. In 2005 she completed a 2-year program in Holistic Management. During her long and indirect journey back to Ithaca, Erica and her husband lived on a permaculture farm and nursery in the San Juan Islands for a year, and spent another year working on farms and building with clay and straw in New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Australia. They returned to Ithaca to settle down in the summer of 2005, and now raise veggies, mushrooms, berries, turkeys, chickens, and ducks on their homestead.

Fay BensonMichelle Striney
Beginning Farmer Project Co-Coordinator

Michelle joined the Small Farms program in March of 2010.  Michelle is a former landscape designer and professional gardener who finished her graduate studies at Cornell University in 2008.  Michelle has spent over 15 years delving into the wide variety of careers available in horticulture, and has been at one time or another a floral designer, roadside stand  and farmer’s market seller, landscape gardener, greenhouse manager, landscape construction project manager, perennial nursery staff person, and community college landscape design instructor.

Michelle completed a degree in Landscape Architecture from Pennsylvania State University in 1995, a certificate in Professional Gardening from Longwood Gardens in 2004, and is in the process of completing her thesis at Cornell in the department of Landscape Architecture.  She lives in Corning, NY with her partner, Gunnar, two very spoiled cats and a whole bunch of potted plants. Michelle and Gunnar hope to have their own small farm someday.

Matthew GoldfarbMatthew Goldfarb
Extension Associate

Matthew joined the Cornell Small Farm Program in June 2010. In 1994 he began his career in farm-based education and sustainable food production and distribution systems. Since then he has studied and worked within this field in a number of positions including: the design and management of diversified farms, consulting work with farms and farm-education organizations, teaching high school biology and agriculture, serving as Executive Director of a non-profit educational farm, participating on local and regional agriculture boards, and completing his MBA from Babson College with a focus on entrepreneurship and creativity. Matthew has a particular interest in livestock and grassland utilization and dairy. All of his work, volunteer and academic experiences support his desire to have a positive impact in developing and strengthening small farms and rural communities. He now hopes to make a difference throughout New York.

Matthew is skilled at writing haiku. He wanted to share this alternative biography:
Born at a young age
Dirt barns and oceans taught him
He has not died yet

Fay BensonFay Benson
Organic Dairy Initiative Coordinator

Fay grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Lansing, NY. After receiving an Associates Degree from Alfred State in ‘ 74, he worked in Ghana for two years in the Peace Corps. Upon returning, he spent 3 years trying out 8 different jobs, many of which took place on a year long trip across the states on a motorcycle. Fay returned to work on his family’s dairy farm from 1980 – 1983. With his wife Linda, Fay purchased Benterra Farm in W. Groton in 1983. They enjoyed the 45-cow farm and tried many changes to make it sustainable: cropping extra acres, grazing, and finally transitioning to certified organic in 1997. The move to organic was a profitable one, and when their debts were paid off in 2003, Fay felt he was ready for a change. So he sold the cows and took a position coordinating the Graze NY program with CCE Cortland.

Fay feels one of the key points to finding success on the farm was fitting his farming style to himself. For many years he tried to fit himself to the way others farmed. In his work at Cornell he tries to work with farmers to step outside of what they think is the “normal way” to farm and fit their farming style to their own unique abilities. Fay is coordinating several of our Dairy Projects, including the NY Organic Dairy Initiative.