Senior Extension Associate
121 Plant Science
It is my personal philosophy that a publicly funded, applied research and extension programs focused on sustainability of vegetable production systems must be designed to address constraints that exist regardless of farm size, approach and scale. The problem-solving approach must balance economic and environmental challenges to production with safety and quality of vegetables for society at large. Within this governing philosophy, the main thrusts of my research and extension program include directing the Cornell Small Farms Program, conducting research and outreach on organic nutrient sources, soil quality, new crops, food safety, and reduced tillage and other alternative practices for vegetable production, and developing educational materials and leadership training programs for growers.
Applied research program focused on sustainability of vegetable production systems, designed to address constraints that exist regardless of farm size, approach and scale. Current focus is on reduced tillage systems for vegetables and vegetable transplant production.
My current extension program targets four audiences: fresh market vegetable growers, organic farmers, small farmers, and agricultural service providers. Activities include applied research (on-farm and on-station) on specific problems faced by these groups, presentation at workshops, facilitating discussion on with ‘hot button’ issues, information dissemination, consulting for problem solving and leadership development. Venues include newsletter articles, on-farm workshops, annual conferences, training programs and videoconferencing. I have successfully secured competitive funding for my extension activities, include $1.2 Million USDA IFAFS grant for organic vegetable research and extension. Impacts include increased visibility of Cornell organic research and education efforts and increase in number of vegetable farmers applying reduced tillage and other sustainable practices. As director of the Cornell Small Farm Program, I have focused on expanding resources and information for small farms through the website and Small Farm Quarterly (27,000 family readership). I have added 3 additional staff members to the Small Farm Program through competitive grants. I also have organized and provided professional development opportunities to agricultural service providers on facilitating groups, leading farmer to farmer discussion groups, organic agriculture and general vegetable production. One of my new research interests is on the development of agricultural business clusters as a strategy for extension education. Past success includes the design and development of the “Food Safety Begins on the Farm” program, including grower self assessments and publications to help growers reduce food safety risk on their farms. Indicators of my program success include farmer feedback and surveys, requests for information, invitations for presentations, publication in journals, meeting evaluations and individual consultations.