Ever wonder what it takes to manage operations at an organic and sustainable student-run farm? It’s not all fun and games (though there’s a bit of that, too). For the curious, check out the recently published Market Garden Report from Cornell’s own student-run organic farm at Dilmun Hill. The report highlights Dilmun’s 2013 farming and marketing operations in detail. Find out what produce was grown, where it was sold, eaten and by whom. Learn about the kinds of infrastructure improvements that were made, the farm’s bed design and crop rotation plan, its irrigation and nutrient management practices, and its marketing and outreach activities. The report provides a fascinating primer into what it takes to manage a vibrant and successful organic farming enterprise!
Associate professor Steve Reiners assumed the position of associate chair of the Department of Horticulture March 1, 2014. Reiners replaces Susan Brown, Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who last July assumed the position of associate director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES), Geneva.
“Susan is a tough act to follow,” says Reiners. “She’s done a great job working with Marvin to make the merger of Ithaca and Geneva departments so successful. I’m looking forward to my new position and continuing to strengthen ties between the two campuses.”
Based in Geneva, Reiners research and extension efforts focus on helping vegetable growers enhance their profitability and sustainability by effectively managing cultural practices such as cover crops, soil fertility, irrigation, plant populations and variety selection.
As Department Extension Leader he mentored new faculty and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, and organized in-service educational activities. He also plays a leadership role in organizing the annual Empire State Producers Expo.
In addition, Reiners co-teaches Principles of Vegetable Production (HORT 3500), and last fall started a new course,Organic Vegetable Gardening (HORT 1250).
“The shorter you mow your lawn, the more work it takes to keep it looking good,” says Frank Rossi, associate professor of Turfgrass Science at Cornell University. A backyard with grass that’s only 1 inch long needs mowing every 5 days. But let it grow to 3 inches and your lawn needs tending only twice a month. What’s more, mowing shorter grass can actually weaken its root system, which can lead to drought, pests, weeds, and more expenses. Before you get to work, check that your mower’s blades are sharp. Hitting the stems with a dull metal requires more energy to make the cut, spiking your fuel bill by 25 to 30 percent. To save even more, leave grass clippings in your yard. When they decompose, you’ve got free fertilizer, Rossi says.
In recent years, a new wholesale markets such as food hubs, online marketplaces, restaurants, and grocery stores have begun recruiting regional products from small to mid-sized farms. Could these emerging wholesale markets be right for you?
Find out at the Small Farms Summit on March 12, 2014 from 9:30am – 3:30pm. The program, Beyond Direct Marketing: Exploring New Ways to Sell, features small farmers’ perspectives on the pros and cons of selling wholesale. Farmers who have made a successful switch to a new wholesale market will reflect on their decision-making process, benefits and challenges, costs, and infrastructure needed. Farmer speakers will also address how well the new market meets their goals, values or other lifestyle preferences.
After sharing lunch, you’ll have the opportunity to join fellow farmers from your region to swap ideas about specific wholesale marketing opportunities in your area. This interactive ‘wholesale market mapping’ activity will result in generating regional needs for projects that the Cornell Small Farms Program may fund over the next few years.
The meeting is free to attend and lunch will be provided. It will originate in Ithaca and participants in six other locations (Newark, Voorheesville, Kingston, Canton, Ellicottville, and Riverhead) will participate via videoconference.
One of the benefits of being a CALS and AEM student is the flexibility that the requirements provide–and that’s not something I’ve taken for granted at all. Case in point: As a second semester senior that was interested in experimenting with a new academic field, and knew very little about wine, I recently signed up for VIEN 1104: Introduction to Wines and Vines. (There is a Hotel wine class as well, which is generally larger.) Let me tell you about my experiences in the course, as it’s definitely been a unique experience!
I’ll start off by saying that if you think this is a course that students take simply to get drunk in class, you’d be sorely mistaken. If anything, students like that would be weeded out pretty quickly–as we’re only a few weeks in, and it’s been a pretty comprehensive introduction to wine principles and grapegrowing. In fact, many of the students in the class have experience in vineyard management! Topics covered so far have included the history of wine production, fermentation, and sensory evaluation. (Who knew there were so many ways that grapes could grow?)
And yes, there are regular wine tastings in class!