The Cornell Small Farms Program is excited to announce that they have been awarded a 3-year grant from the USDA’s Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program (BFRDP) that will enable them to provide new support services for military veterans seeking to farm, and for “advanced beginning” farmers who have 3-9 years of farming experience. Matching funds are provided by their collaborators at the NY Farm Viability Institute and the Local Economies Project.
Since 2009 they have operated the Northeast Beginning Farmer Project, a vibrant educational and social network that delivers mentoring, information resources, and training to beginning farmers and service providers who support new farm viability. Their long-term goal is to ensure access to resources, education and supportive networks to all who are interested in farming in the Northeast.
With these new funds they will create training programs and farmer-to-farmer networks to address the needs of two under-served farmer groups: military/veteran farmers and individuals who have been farming for 3-9 years. Our team of collaborators includes: Cornell Cooperative Extension, National Center for Appropriate Technology, NY Farm Viability Institute, Farmer Veteran Coalition, NY FarmNet, NY Dept of Veterans Affairs, Local Economies Project, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, and Heroic Food Farm School.
Together they will:
- Connect farm and veteran service providers to create the Farmer Veteran Coalition of NY
- Offer annual 5-day intensive entrepreneurial “boot camps” to military veterans seeking to farm
- Develop approved on-the-job training opportunities on farms, allowing military vets to use GI benefits to get hands-on farm experience
- Create regional farmer veteran networking groups
- Provide 40 advanced beginning farmers with intensive support from a “New Farmer Profit Team” of advisers
- Develop 8 new online courses geared toward advanced beginners seeking to diversify with new enterprises
- Design intensive trainings on scaling up, including wholesale marketing and equipment decision-making