A three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help Cornell University’s Small Farms Program (SFP) work with a coalition of groups to broaden its support for new farmers.
“Growing demand for local foods has created new markets for farmers,” says Erica Frenay, coordinator of the SFP’s N.Y. Beginning Farmer Project. “Many new farmers with little or no agricultural experience want to tap this growing market, but face daunting barriers.”
The funding, from the USDA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program, will help the project draw on the strengths of diverse partner organizations to break down those barriers, including limited access to training, capital, and land.
“Our goal is to improve beginning farmer success by providing training both to the farmers and the non-profits that serve them,” says Frenay.
Funding will also help the project:
- Expand its online courses and develop new educational resources, including production-oriented topics, how-to videos and on-the-ground workshops.
- Work with middle- and high schools to develop fun events and learning opportunities to recruit young people to careers in farming.
- Identify and address barriers for farmers wanting to scale up production to meet demands of markets beyond direct-to-consumer sales.
- The Greenhorns, a national young farmers movement
- N.Y. Farm Viability Institute
- N.Y. FarmNet and N.Y. FarmLink
- Cornell University’s Departments of Education and Horticulture
- N.Y. Association of Agricultural Educators
- Cornell Cooperative Extension
- Heifer International
- A dozen non-profits from around the Northeast that train and support beginning farmers.
To stay informed about the N.Y. Beginning Farmer Project, sign up for the free monthly Small Farms Program’s e-newsletter and/or visit the N.Y. Beginning Farmer website.
Update [11/25/2009]: See also Cornell Chronicle article.