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Relationships drive Cornell Vegetable Program’s reach

Hoover speaks with Cornell Vegetable Program specialist Judson Reid '94 in a climate-controlled high tunnel. (Photo: R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension)

Hoover speaks with Cornell Vegetable Program specialist Judson Reid ’94 in a climate-controlled high tunnel. (Photo: R.J. Anderson/Cornell Cooperative Extension)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-05-09]:

Commercial vegetable grower Nelson Hoover does not own a car, a computer or a degree. In fact, the 28-year-old never attended high school. But for over a decade, Hoover, a member of the Groffdale Mennonite Conference in Penn Yan, New York, has been one of the Cornell Vegetable Program’s (CVP) most trusted research partners.

A Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) regional agriculture team, CVP assists farmers in 12 western New York counties – the largest vegetable-producing region in the state – by helping them apply Cornell research and expertise to their local growing operations.

Two of those counties, Yates and Seneca, are home to the highest concentration of Old Order communities in the state. As their populations grows, the Amish and Mennonite influence on the area’s agriculture markets has followed suit. They now operate 99 percent of dairy farms in the area and own of one of the region’s largest produce auctions, which has grown by $185,000 annually over the last 12 years.

Working to maximize vegetable quality and output in Yates and Seneca counties is Cornell-trained horticulturist and CVP extension vegetable specialist Judson Reid ’94. Specializing in small-farm operations and high tunnel growing, Reid has become a trusted agricultural voice – even within those sects not typically receptive to outside influence.

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