Finger Lakes Craft and Other Farmer Trainings

Finger Lakes CRAFT – Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training – And Other Farmer 2016 Training Opportunities from Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming

Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming offers a host of training programs for beginning farmers that are taught by small scale farmers in the community. These include one time workshops, Saturday-Sunday classes, and longer course offerings appropriate to a wide range of skill levels and interests. Their 2016 programs include: Finger Lakes CRAFTFarm Business Planning Course; Educator Training; Farming While Brown; Year-Round High Tunnels Course; Draft Animals Practicum; Cooperative Farm Business; Finger Lakes Orchards eXChange (FLOX), and Introduction to Farming.

Finger Lakes CRAFT TourCRAFT, which stands for Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training is farmer training for beginning sustainable farmers by experienced sustainable farmers. CRAFT was established in 1994 in Eastern New York and Western Massachusetts, and the original CRAFT Group still exists today. There are now CRAFT groups all over the country, and CRAFT looks a little bit different in each place, depending on the needs, resources, and interests of local participants.

Finger Lakes CRAFT meets once each month throughout the growing season on one of the farms run by CRAFT Mentors. This year, Finger Lakes CRAFT will be hosting tours in May, June, and July.

Sunday May 15, Kingbird Farm 1-4 pm   

Sunday June 19, Westhaven Farm 1-4 pm

Sunday, July 17, Main Street Farms 1-4 pm

Groundswell CenterFor more information about CRAFT and Groundswell programs, click “read more” below.

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Farm Preparation and Planning – Spring at the TC3 Farm

Farm Preparation and Planning at TC3 Farm – Student Post by Murray

Farm preparation and planning Planting seeds properly is the most important job on the farm. The start of a new plant is so crucial and if attention to detail is ignored, a huge failure in the season would be possible. Seeding is not as simple as one might think; it involves many hours of preparation and planning. Also, plant data and growing knowledge is key for success. Understanding how the particular seed grows, what temperature it needs, the best way to transplant/direct seed or what nutrients the soil needs, the grower must understand these basics.

Seeding is very important, in fact, one of the most important in determining the whole season’s success. First, using seedling trays is necessary if the seedlings have to be transplanted. Seedling StartsThis gives the control of their environment and also proves to be easier when transplanting. It is also important to know how many seeds per cell are needed as the germination rate may be high or low and compensation is needed for the differences in crops. A great company where TC3 Farm buys its seeds is called High Mowing Seeds.

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This week on the TC3 Farm – Student Post by Maria

This week on the TC3 Farm we were engaged in various activities including harvesting lettuce, seeding, cultivation, broadforking, rock picking, and the final work on the crop rotation plan.  These tasks are all from different stages of the planting process, starting with getting the soil ready to plant which includes picking rocks out of the beds and broadforking.

Broadforking the Hoophouse Beds

For those not familiar, a broadfork is a wonderful tool for tilling and aerating garden beds by hand.  It consists of 5 metal tines, 8-12” inches long, spaced a few inches apart on a horizontal bar, with two handles extending upwards to chest or shoulder level, forming a large U-shape, like a pitchfork on steroids.  It is designed to use your body weight to insert and maneuver the tool instead of your back and arms.  You stand on the tool, gently rocking and wiggling the tool to work the tines into the ground. Then pull back on the handles using your weight and the tool’s leverage. Your motion is a natural pulling and pushing, instead of bending and lifting.  I found that you do need to use a fair amount of upper body strength to maneuver it properly, but my weight was a great benefit and certainly helped where I lacked in strength.

Removing Rocks
Removing Rocks from the Beds

The benefits to broadforking are numerous.  For one, as a hand tool, it requires no dependence on fossil fuels nor the noise, pollution and compaction that results from using power equipment.  The long tines allow for deep loosening of the soil to improve aeration and drainage, both important for growing healthy plants.  The rocking motion of the tool allows you to break up and loosen the subsoil with minimal turning, which leaves the topsoil on top where it belongs, and minimizes destruction of soil structure.  This is important as the topsoil is the layer with the most organic matter and the available nutrients plants need to grow.  And oddly enough, we found broadforking helpful in removing large rocks found below the surface of the soil, so we were rock picking at the same time!

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Healthy Food for All Fundraiser at Coltivare

Coltivare LogoColtivare Restaurant in downtown Ithaca will be donating 15% of their Food and Beverage Sales from dinner service on Sunday, April 24, 2016 to Healthy Food for All.  Please come and support them and the cause! Food specials for that evening are listed below.  They will also will be serving their full dinner menu.  We hope to see you this weekend! Coltivare is the TC3 Farm’s partner in the College’s Farm to Bistro initiative.

Healthy Food For All (HFFA) is a non-profit program of Cornell Cooperative Extension Tompkins County in partnership with local farms.  Since 2006 they’ve been making fresh, quality produce accessible to low-income families through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares and educational resources.

Specials for Dinner on Sunday, April 24, 2016 


Local Vegetable Tofu Tagine (Moroccan Style Vegetables) with Greek Yogurt



Bostrum Farms Pork Porterhouse, Local Peaches and Bourbon, Roasted NY Fingerling Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus


Mariah Farms Elk Burger, Local Carmelized Onions, Lively Run Blue Yonder Cheese, Apple Wood Bacon


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Herb Gardening Class in Auburn, New York


Saturday, May 21st – 11:30AM until 2:30PM

Price for the class & luncheon will be $25.

herb gardeningThe focus of this session is on growing and cooking with culinary herbs.  We will start in the restaurant with a light luncheon featuring some of the interesting culinary herbs we grow.  We will discuss our favorite herb varieties. You will see these herbs growing in our herb garden and we will show you how we plant and propagate them. We will discuss how to use them in some delightful summer salads, entrèes and beverages.

If you are interested in attending either of this event please call 315-252-6025 or e-mail us at to register

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Crop Rotation Planning at the TC3 Farm

This post by Logan about crop rotation planning at the TC3 Farm is the second in our Spring 2016 Sustainable Farming and Food Systems student series. You can find the first post here: – Taylor

The class at the TC3 farm finally came together and started planning where the crops are going this season. Sitting around the class, students started brainstorming on the whiteboard talking out what crop rotation worked best. With some diverse experience, a lot of advice and tips from Todd, there is pretty good start to this season’s crop rotation. The rotation of crops is important to the survival of the plants and there is a lot to be taken into consideration when planning for the season. Pest and disease pressure, nutrient needs and crop families play a key role in the rotation.

crop rotation planning
Working out the crop rotation plan for the TC3 Farm

Keeping in mind the previous year’s crop rotation, the plants are moved from where they were planted last season. This helps the insect and disease pressure by moving the food source, or plants, away from where these pests may have over-wintered in the soil. When the insect pests come up this year the plants they may have been feeding on will be far enough away to help mitigate an early season loss. This rotation will also facilitate the plants nutrient requirements. Some plants require a lot of one nutrient. Using tomatoes as an example they require a large amount of nitrogen from the soil. It takes time for those nutrients to return making it unhealthy for the plants to go back in the same bed. Rotating in a plant, like beans or peas, can fix the low nitrogen in the soil for the following crop.

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