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 hands-on certificate program for aspiring and beginning farmers. This season-long program (starting May 23, 2023) 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!

“I have been interested in learning about farming for a while, but was unable to find a program/class that fit in my 9-5 full time schedule. This was the perfect opportunity to learn and get hands on experience.” (Participant of 2019 Beginning Farmer Training Program)

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 four months, participants will develop production and management skills including, but not limited to:

Field Production Farm Business Management
●Seed starting and greenhouse management ●Starting a farm business in New York
●Field preparation ●Agricultural business planning
●Direct seeding and transplanting ●Crop planning and field mapping
●Soil health and maintenance ●Farm financials
●Insect, disease and weed management ●Lean farming techniques
●Harvesting techniques ●Grants and loans
●Processing vegetables for storage and sale ●Marketing and sales

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 23-October 3rd 2023(6:00-8:00pm)

Where: Cornell Cooperative Extension office at the Niagara County Fairgrounds

Cost: $650 (Includes cost of books and required materials)

How: Class size is limited and may fill-up quickly.To sign-up, fill out the application form and submit payment by May 15th to:

Cornell Cooperative Extension – Niagara 2023 Begnning Farmer Application

4487 Lake Ave

Lockport, NY 14094

Click here for application form: 

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.

We at CCE Niagara are going to do everything we can to ensure you have a safe, interactive and effective learning experience in the Beginning Farmer Training Program and are able to develop skills, know-how and build a professional network that will serve you well after the program, as you begin or expand your farming career.

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

**Certificate requires attendance of 14 out of 17 Beginning Farmer classes, at least 2 elective classes, and 100 hours of experience.

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 195 years.He and his wife ran 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 May 5, 2023