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Finger Lakes CRAFT

Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training


Are you an experienced farmer dedicated to cultivating the next generation of sustainable farmers in our region? Are you a farming intern or a beginning farmer looking to broaden your farming experience and connect with other interns and farmers? Or are you an urban gardener interested in connecting with farmers and exploring the possibility of farming as a career? If so, the Finger Lakes CRAFT wants you!

The Finger Lakes CRAFT (Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) is a community of established and aspiring cmmercial farmers. This community meets regularly throughout the growing season at each of six CRAFT Mentor Farms to learn about that farm operation, ask lots of questions, share knowledge and network with each other. We also have  potlucks through the season where you can get to know other beginning and established farmers. CRAFT Potlucks are free and are open to family members and guests who want to learn more about CRAFT.

Finger Lakes CRAFT Membership

CRAFT membership is open to all farm interns, employees, aspiring and experienced farmers, including organic, conventional or other. CRAFT membership provides you with:

  • Admission to all CRAFT farm tours during the season, and to our potluck gatherings throughout the season
  • Participation in a supportive network of experienced and beginning farmers and homesteaders
  • Educational benefits for your interns and employees that can help you attract more qualified workers to your farm.

Information about the 2015 CRAFT Season will be posted in February.

To join CRAFT, contact info@groundswellcenter.org.

About the 2014 CRAFT Season

CRAFT tour days follow the following schedule and are open ONLY to CRAFT Members. Please prepare to be outside (sun protection, water bottle, rain gear, layers) and plan to arrive 5 min EARLY.
  • 10-12 Farm Tour
  • 12-1 Potluck Lunch
  • 1-3 Workshop

Sunday, May 18, 6-8 PM
CRAFT Potluck: Orientation and Meet the Mentor Farmers 
SONG Common House, 200 EcoVillage, Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca, NY
CRAFT Potlucks are free and are open to family members and guests who want to learn more about CRAFT.

Monday, May 19, 10 AM - 3 PM
CRAFT Farm Tour #1, Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
PM workshop: Breeding Poultry and Livestock

We will cover the selection and breeding of hogs, cattle, and poultry with an emphasis on small herds.  We will discuss in detail our experience maintaining breeding animals, good fertility, incubation, hatching, weaning and many other aspects of reproduction.  Hands-on experience will include breeding stock assessment, candling hatching eggs, piglet/calf handling.

Monday, June 16, 10 AM - 3 PM
CRAFT Farm Tour #2, Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY
PM workshop: Infrastructure & management of 100% grass-fed sheep

You can get started with sheep with little or no infrastructure!  We will gather a flock of sheep and discuss minimum infrastructure requirements for management.  We will get our hands on some animals and show the basics of foot trimming, vaccinating, and drenching. Participants should wear clean boots, and bring a pair of light duty work gloves.

Monday, July 21, 10 AM - 3 PM
CRAFT Farm Tour #3, Main Street Farms, Homer & Cortland, NY
PM workshop: Urban farming & aquaponics systems

We will tour the South Ave. Farm in Cortland first.  Attendees will learn about the resources and the process that were required to start a farm in city limits.  The second part of the tour will take place at our Homer farm and will focus on our aquaponics system.  During the second part of tour we will also talk about our various educational programming.  To end the day the group will build a small scale demonstration aquaponics system using low cost materials that can be purchased at any local pet store.   

Monday, August 18, 10 AM - 3 PM
CRAFT Farm Tour #4, West Haven Farm, Ithaca, NY
PM workshop: Efficiency & resilience on the farm

Working fast and smart is vital to running a successful farm.  But planning ahead and setting your farm up for the future is even better.  We will look at some of West Haven’s top strategies for improving labor efficiency and broader effectiveness, staying focused on what is really important to us.  We will explore some of West Haven’s recent changes to create a more resilient farm that is better prepared to take on the inevitable flood, drought, pests, broken tractors, accidents, illnesses, absences and more. Hands-on activities include a Harvest Trial – we will harvest the same crop multiple ways and compare time to harvest, quality and value

Monday, September 15, 10 AM - 3 PM
CRAFT Farm Tour #5: Good Life Farm, Interlaken, NY
PM workshop: Holistic Organic Orchards

Good Life Farm is excited to share our young orchard with CRAFT.  We’re growing cider and dessert apples, Asian Pears, and peaches, all with a diverse understory. We'll cover both our particular regenerative ag approaches to orchard management, and discuss more standard organic practices.

WEDNESDAY, October 22, 10 AM - 3 PM
CRAFT Farm Tour #6:  Plowbreak Farm, Trumansburg, NY
PM workshop: High Tunnel Production & Marketing

Shoulder season growing and marketing: How to efficiently switch your high tunnels from summer crops to planting fall and winter crops in a short time frame, and find the right buyers for your high-value crops. Also discussion on keeping high tunnels healthy.

Saturday November 15, 6-9 PM
CRAFT Final Potluck & Season Wrap-Up
TBA Common House, EcoVillage, Rachel Carson Way, Ithaca, NY
CRAFT Potlucks are free and are open to family members and guests who want to learn more about CRAFT.

2014 CRAFT sessions are every 3rd Monday of the month, May-October
10:00 AM -3:00 PM with potluck lunch
Morning Farm Tour plus Afternoon Topical Workshop

2014 Mentor Farms

Our CRAFT Mentor Farms are (click for CRAFT Farm Profiles): West Haven FarmNorthland Sheep DairyKingbird Farm, The Good Life Farm, Main Street Farms. and Plowbreak Farm. This group of experienced farmer-mentors works with Groundswell to host a series of training sessions for CRAFT members from May to October. Each session will include an in-depth farm tour; potluck lunch; Q&A with the farmers; and plenty of time for informal mentoring and networking among the farmers and their trainees.

Topics to be addressed by each farm during each farm tours include:

  • Safety
  • Managing soil fertility
  • Managing pests, diseases and weeds
  • Marketing
  • Record keeping, financial management and profitability
  • Juggling farming, family, jobs, and fun

About the CRAFT approach

The CRAFT approach was first developed by farmers in the Hudson Valley/Berkshires region, and builds on the training provided by individual farmers to their interns and employees during the course of the growing season. The CRAFT approach has been highly successful in increasing the quality, depth and breadth of new farmer training in several other regions in the US and Canada.

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Remembrance Farm Tour. Biodynamic theory and practice