Beginning Farmer Training Program

Interested in starting a farm business?

Would you like to learn how to grow and sell vegetables, flowers and herbs for profit?

CCE Niagara’s Beginning Farmer Training Program is a new, hands-on certificate program for aspiring and beginning farmers. This season-long program (starting May 12th 2020) will teach you the business of profitable market gardening* and give you experience in taking a crop from seed to sale.Students will get a unique and comprehensive education by growing produce in our 1-acre Field Lab and from experienced farmers and industry experts in the classroom.

Learn how to avoid common start-up mistakes!Make your farm more efficient!

Graduates will gain:

  • A Certificate in Market Gardening** from Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Experience in crop production, from seed to sale
  • A deeper understanding of small-scale farm management
  • Entrepreneurial skills to start a farm business or find employment at local farms
  • A network of incredible people to provide support and guidance

Get your hands dirty!

Our curriculum starts in the field and continues in the classroom–from learning how to harvest lettuce efficiently to listening to a presentation on soil fertility management–every part of the program is designed to give you the confidence and know-how to take your business idea to the next level.

Over the course of six months, participants will develop production and management skills including, but not limited to:

Field Production

  • Seed starting and greenhouse management
  • Bed preparation
  • Direct seeding and transplanting
  • Soil health and maintenance
  • Insect, disease and weed management
  • Irrigation systems
  • Harvesting techniques
  • Processing vegetables for storage and sale
  • Tracking production/record keeping
  • Season extension

Farm Business Management

  • Starting a farm business in New York
  • Agricultural business planning
  • Crop planning and field mapping
  • Farm financials
  • Lean farming techniques
  • Systems and record keeping
  • Marketing and sales
  • Grants and loans
  • Insurance and regulations
  • Employee and time management

Beyond the Farm - Field trips to local farms will complement the curriculum and connect participants with the local food scene.

Tell me more! See details below:

When: Tuesday Evenings, May 12th-October 6th 2020(6:00-8:00pm)

Where: Cornell Cooperative Extension office at the Niagara County Fairgrounds

Cost: $400 + cost of books

How: To sign-up, fill out the attached application form and submit payment by April 30th to:

Cornell Cooperative Extension–Niagara
4487 Lake Ave
Lockport, NY 14094

Requirements for Admission:

CCE Niagara is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community and strongly encourages aspiring farmers from all backgrounds to apply.

Applicants should be committed to learning and passionate about developing a profitable farming enterprise. Strong commitment and effort is required and solid time management skills are essential. Applicants will need to feel comfortable in an educational setting. Parts of the class may require intensive physical effort, a willingness to be outside in adverse weather conditions and to function positively in a team and as part of a collaborative work environment.

*Market gardening entails the intense production and sale of high-value crops.

**Certificate requires attendance of 18 out of 22 classes and 100 hours of field work.

About the Instructor: Rich Woodbridge is owner and operator of McCollum Orchards & Gardens, a diversified fruit and vegetable farm in the city of Lockport, NY. The farm has been in his family for over 190 years. He and his wife run a 150-member Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and sell produce to restaurants and at local farmers markets.Rich earned his MBA from UC San Diego and specialized in market research and rural economic development before taking over the family farm in 2011.


Rich Woodbridge
Agriculture Business Management Educator
716-433-8839 Ext. 240

Last updated March 23, 2020