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resources

MAY 26, 2016: COVER CROPS

The (3) C’s in organic farming are Cop Rotations, Cover Crops and Compost. When put together in a well-planned production system healthy soil and a successful cash crop are all but guaranteed. In this class we’ll discuss how to develop a plan that is focused on cover crops in a diverse crop rotation. We’ll also discuss how to manage the cover crops including the ability to plant no-till in organic systems, using the cover crop as a mulch to suppress annual weeds. We’ll also cover topics like seed selection, cover crop establishment, tillage and no-till, and the strategies behind the systems that make them work.

Cover CropsMay 26, 2016
12:30 – 3:30 pm
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
Pocantico Hills, NY

Workshops are free and open to the public. To register, contact Laurie at laurief@stonebarnscenter.org.

Jeff Moyer is an expert in organic crop production systems including weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. He has helped countless farmers make the transition from conventional, chemical-based farming to organic or sustainable methods.

Click here for a full list of Beginning Farmer Workshops.

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apprenticeships

CLOSED – 2017 CROPS APPRENTICESHIP

NOTE: We are no longer accepting applications for 2017 apprenticeships.

We will post 2018 apprenticeships later this year. 2017 position description is included below.


Apprentice Program Curriculum and Responsibilities

The apprenticeship program aims for each apprentice to become skilled in the practices of agroecology. The idea is that a field of crops is an ecosystem where ecological processes apply. Implicit in that idea is that agroecosystems can produce better food. The goal is to minimize environmental and social impact with fewer external inputs. Our agroecological principles serve as the tools for these management decisions. The crops apprentice will gain practical production experience in a diversified cropping system. This production experience will be supported with on-farm and indoor classroom time to provide a comprehensive understanding of agroecological systems. The farm crop manager and his team will provide daily operational training, mentorship, and guidance in the crop production spaces and its CSA, retail, and wholesale markets. The apprentice will participate on a team that includes farm managers, other apprentices, support staff, interns and volunteers.

Apprentices participate extensively in the Center’s educational outreach, providing them with opportunities to build communication skills around our practices in agroecology and food system change with diverse audiences, including farmers, chefs, weekend visitors, youth day-campers, and high school and college students.

In addition, apprentices will participate in classes, workshops and conferences led by Stone Barns Center’s experienced farmers, Blue Hill chefs, and other food and agricultural experts in the region. The aim is to create literacy around agroecology. This academic component will reinforce and supplement the apprenticeship’s hands-on production training with a working knowledge of the science, arts and real-world challenges of agroecology. Some workshops will be complemented by traveling to other farms in the region through the apprentice’s participation in the Hudson Valley Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT) program and other Hudson Valley partnerships.

Crops Apprentice

The crops apprentice will learn skills for growing, harvesting and processing a diversity of high quality vegetables, flowers and herb crops in our 7-acre vegetable field, 2-acre grain/row crop rotations, 1/2-acre winter garden with unheated movable greenhouses and 1/2-acre soil-based four-season greenhouse. Exposure to each production area will be organized through rotations. Time will be spent assisting the farm crops manager and assistant managers with daily farm operations. Through the course of the season, the apprentice will develop production skills including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Seed starting
  • Greenhouse management and season extension
  • Bed preparation
  • Direct seeding and transplanting
  • Crop and soil health
  • Compost management
  • Seasonal varietal selection
  • Crop maintenance and weed management
  • Irrigation systems
  • Operating and maintaining relevant machinery
  • Harvesting
  • Processing vegetables for storage and sale
  • Tracking production/record keeping
  • Supervising volunteers and interns

These crop production skills will be supported through on-farm rotations to different areas of the farm. Additionally, roughly 25 percent of your time will be dedicated to interdisciplinary training in agroecology and food system literacy. Topics will include but are not limited to:

  • Soil, flavor and health
  • Genetic diversity
  • Food’s future in education
  • The botany and zoology of our landscapes

The purpose of this interdisciplinary training is to create literacy around key principles of agroecology to empower future leaders to contribute to the conversation around our food systems’ real world problems and the budding solutions that are a part of the current dialogue.

Requirements for Admission

Applicants should be committed to learning and passionate about developing their career as a farmer and food system leader. Preference will be given to applicants with at least one full season of farming experience and a background in a production setting. Strong commitment and effort is required and solid time management skills are essential. Apprentices will need to feel comfortable in an educational setting. Teaching or public speaking skills are a plus. Additional prerequisites include the ability to lift at least 50 pounds, be outside in adverse weather conditions and to function positively in a team and as part of a collaborative work environment. Parts of the apprenticeship require intensive physical effort.

Additional Information

The program runs five days per week and includes weekend rotations. This is a nine-month apprenticeship, running from March 6, 2017 to December 1, 2017. Each apprentice receives a bi-weekly stipend of $1,250 (gross before taxes) which includes funds for housing. In addition, Stone Barns voluntarily provides workers’ compensation and short-term disability insurance to apprentices.

To Apply:

Please follow the application steps here. The deadline for applications is October 31. Promising candidates will be interviewed and invited for a mandatory in-person trial day during November and early December.

Stone Barns Center

Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is a nonprofit organization on a mission to create a healthy and sustainable food system that benefits us all. We are working to build a culture of eating based on what farms need to grow to sustain healthy soil and a resilient ecosystem. In our quest to transform the way America eats and farms, we convene change makers, train farmers, educate food citizens and develop agroecological farming practices.

Categories
resources

APRIL 14, 2016: BOTANY FOR FARMERS

This workshop will be an interactive lecture and discussion about some foundational topics in plant science relevant to growing fruits and vegetables.  The main topics will be (1) plant form and patterns of growth, (2) plant reproduction, and (3) plant nutrition.  Although the emphasis will be on basic plant science, we will make frequent cross-references with agricultural practice.

Botany for FarmersApril 14, 2016
12:30 – 3:30 pm
Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
Pocantico Hills, NY

Workshops are free and open to the public. To register, contact Laurie at laurief@stonebarnscenter.org.

Matt Palmer is a senior lecturer and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Columbia University.  He is involved in a range of research and education projects involving urban and peri-urban ecology. He collaborates with NYC Parks, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, NASA, the USDA Forest Service, and several units within Columbia University on research, teaching, and teacher training initiatives. His current research projects include evaluating the ecosystem functions of green infrastructure, studying the ecosystem consequences of reforestation in NYC, and providing scientific support for the management of both invasive and rare species throughout the region.

Click here for a full list of Beginning Farmer Workshops.

Categories
resources

Honeynut: Sowing Seeds For Collaboration

It takes a village to raise a Honeynut squash. Just ask Jack Algiere. At Stone Barns Center, Jack oversees the cultivation of over 200 varieties of produce year-round on 6.5 acres of outdoor fields and gardens and in a 22,000 square-foot minimally heated greenhouse. Since Stone Barns Center opened its doors in 2004, Jack has been collaborating with chefs, plant breeders, and seed companies to identify the most flavorful, nutritious, and resilient plant varieties that can be grown in the Northeast.

As an educational farm, Stone Barns Center is less vulnerable to market pressures than other small-scale, sustainable farms. In addition to being a source of fresh produce, the Center’s fields act as living laboratories where farmers like Jack carry out innovative experiments that would prove too risky or expensive on most commercial farms.

Partnering with stakeholders like the Hudson Valley Seed Library, Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, Bejo Seeds, and the department of Plant Breeding & Genetics at Cornell University, the farmers at Stone Barns Center save seed from varieties ranging from Panther edamame to Black Krim tomatoes to Otto File corn—each season, selecting for flavor and disease resistance.

“By participating in seed saving, trial growing, and experimentation, I gain a much deeper relationship to the plant material that I’m working with,” Jack explains. “Participating in trials is a risk but it also means that I have a voice in the conversation—that the small-scale, sustainable farmer essentially has a vote.”

For Michael Mazourek, Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding & Genetics at Cornell University, sharing seed with farmers is an essential part of the plant breeding process. He explains, “Sharing seed with growers gives us an invaluable perspective. They can find hidden potential and point out further needs for improvement that we missed.”

In 2006, the Plant Breeding & Genetics department at Cornell University introduced Jack to Honeynut squash, a combination of butternut and buttercup squash types. Stone Barns Center has been conducting seed trials with the variety ever since.

A healthy row of Honeynut squash can speak wonders about a variety’s resiliency but when it comes to flavor, Jack turns to Dan Barber, chef and co-owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, for feedback. Roughly fifty percent of the produce grown at Stone Barns Center is sold to Blue Hill and the restaurant plays an important role in evaluating the flavor of varieties like Honeynut.

Over the last six years of trials— from seed to table—the flavor, nutritional value, and disease resistance of the Honeynut squash has gradually improved but there are other important traits that suggest a variety is “finished.” Michael explains, “A certain amount of uniformity is needed and the variety must be relatively true breeding so that we can have a consistent seed stock. Honeynut is special because it is stable and self-fertile which allows for seed saving.”

When varieties like the Honeynut begin to excel in seed trials, plant breeders partner with seed companies to ensure that the new varieties are accessible to the farming community at large. In the case of the Honeynut squash, that meant bringing High Mowing Organic Seeds, an independently-owned, farm-based seed company, into the conversation. On a 40 acre farm in Wolcott, Vermont, High Mowing Organic Seeds produces varieties like the Honeynut squash that might not otherwise be available to organic farmers.

At 500 grams or 17.6 ounces, the Honeynut squash is celebrated for its small size, sweetness, disease resistance, and high levels of beta-carotene—but it could just as easily be celebrated for the compelling story it tells about collaboration and the dynamic relationship between farmers, chefs, plant breeders, and seed companies.

The health of small-scale, sustainable agriculture may very well depend upon healthy relationships. “I’m never going to be a plant science geneticist,” Jack explains. “I depend on plant breeders and as a farmer, there are ways that I can reciprocate for their extraordinary work. We’re going to need these kinds of relationships to reinvigorate small-scale farming.”