Beginning Farmer Project

Starting a farm?

The NY Beginning Farmer Project’s goal is to enhance the likelihood of success of new ag enterprises by making the best resources and training available to any new or diversifying farmer in NY. It is led by a team of Cornell Cooperative Extension Educators in partnership with the Cornell Small Farms Program.

Contact Info

Erica Frenay, (607) 255-9911,
Michelle Striney

Current Projects

Beginning Farmers Website
The Beginning Farmers Website offers a series of farm planning worksheets that will help you lay the foundation for a business plan. You’ll also find the “Voices of Experience” video series, a collection of short video interviews with farmers on topics such as marketing, profitability, financing start-up, and more. You can network with other farmers in the “Beginning Farmers Discussion Forum” or get answers to your questions on the “Frequently Asked Questions” page. Finally, if you need some personal assistance, log in to this site for contact information for your local Cornell Cooperative Extension agriculture agent. Visit the site at:

Guide to Farming in New York
Fact Sheets The recently revised Guide to Farming in New York is an essential resource for new and existing farmers alike, providing answers to questions about taxes, business planning, labor law, zoning, regulations, marketing and many other topics that farmers need to know. Pick up a hard copy at your local Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) office or download the fact sheets here.

Online Beginning Farmer Class

Are you comfortable enough with a computer to consider learning online? Cornell Cooperative Extension and the NY Beginning Farmer Project have created two basic online courses to help you think through the major factors related to farm start-up. Join experienced CCE educators and your new farmer peers in a dynamic learning experience that incorporates both self-paced readings and real-time virtual meetings with discussion forums, presentations by successful farmers, homework activities, and developing a customized plan for your next steps in farming. Classes are offered frequently.

Regional Beginning Farmer Trainings

Prefer a personal approach to learning? You’ll find a listing of regional Beginning Farmer Trainings held around New York on our Online Events Calendar. These classes are taught by area farmers, cooperative extension staff, and farm business specialists and include a huge variety of topics, from basic information to advanced training. Trainings span the Fall-Winter season.

History of the Project

Initial funding for this project came from the NY Farm Viability Institute and a Cornell Cooperative Extension Directors’ Call grant.
In Fall 2009 we received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program that will help us expand our support for new farmers, drawing on the strengths of a diverse array of partner organizations in addition to Cornell Cooperative Extension: the Greenhorns, NY Farm Viability Insitute,NOFA-NY, NY FarmNet and NY FarmLink, the Cornell Dept. of Education, NY Association of Ag Educators, Heifer International, and a dozen non-profits from around the Northeast that train and support beginning farmers.

With this USDA funding, the Team is:

  • Developing new online courses and how-to videos for new farmers on production-oriented topics.
  • Working with middle and high schools to develop classroom and on-farm learning opportunities to recruit young people into farming as a career.
  • Analyzing the hurdles that challenge farmers with 5-10 years of experience when trying to grow their operations
  • Making training opportunities for new farmers more visible to all new farmers in the Northeast
  • Assisting organizations serving beginning farmers with publicity, evaluation, training and information to enhance the success of the new farmers they serve.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is a key outreach system of Cornell University with a strong public mission and an extensive local presence that is responsive to needs in New York communities. The Cornell Cooperative Extension educational system enables people to improve their lives and communities through partnerships that put experience and research knowledge to work.