Farming at the Willsboro Research Farm for Cornell University

So just like that…

I got a new job and I’m actually farming!

The impetus to start living at the farm full-time was partly influenced by a new opportunity that was too good to pass up.

I recently landed a seasonal job farming at the Willsboro Research Farm that is owned and run by Cornell University.

It took about 5 seconds to agree to a field assistant position from May through October on this 350-acre research farm with stunning views overlooking Lake Champlain.

Photosphere at Willsboro Farm

With the weather allowing everyone to get a jump on Spring planting, my first few weeks were rather hectic, but well worth it.

At the research farm they’re doing some cool trials with cold-hardy grapes, overwintering lettuce, primo tomatoes with rye cover crops, juneberries (aka saskatoons) and a lots of ongoing soil and nutrient analysis.

Wheat trials at Essex Farm

They’re also doing numerous plantings and trials of organic wheat and ancient grains like emmer and einkorn, which plays perfectly with my passion for artisan breads.

Like a paid farm school

I expected it to be a fantastic learning experience and it’s turning out to be just that.

I was on-boarded quickly and indoctrinated into the Cornell system and have been outside ever since (except when severe lightning looms).

The crew is knowledgeable and experienced.

They seem very patient so far with me asking a ton of questions and we get on well.

Cold-hardy grapes (Marquette)

An added benefit of this new position is being able to meet new folks and farmers through the research programs which introduces me to the local community much more broadly than I’d be able to accomplish on my own.

I’m quickly making new friends and enjoying the town of Willsboro which has a lot to offer a newcomer like myself.

I especially enjoy the places in town that have free and decent WiFi!  (tweet me @adkfarmerdan to find out where)

Succession planting for salanova lettuces

My morning rituals involve weeding in the greenhouse and lots of watering.

I like spending time with the plants in the greenhouse like Salanova lettuce mixes in succession planting.

New view from the office chair

I’m really digging the new view from the office!

Farm kid in a candy store

Like a farm kid in a candy store, the amount of tractors, implements and accessories I’m getting to use every day is a joy.

The knowledge both in safety training and hands-on implementation has been invaluable.

There’s a lot of manual labor of course, but I feel that I’m getting a lot more out of it than a paycheck.

It’s almost like a paid farm school because I’m being exposed to a whole host of things on a diversified farm simultaneously.

It’s opening my eyes to new possibilities and I’m learning so much.

Farm toys

The Willsboro Farm is close by my farm, which makes for a nice bike ride to work.

This is something I really missed doing since living in Stavanger.

I work Monday thru Friday but have plenty of time to work on our farm in the early evenings.

Cultivating coincidences

If you checked out the link above for the Cornell Research Farm, you’ll see that the entire farm was donated by E. Vreeland Baker in 1982, a retired energy investor and engineering graduate of Cornell who grew up on the farm in Willsboro.

After retiring from the energy sector, Baker got more into farming later in life, buying up more farmland and getting involved in more farming operations, like dairy.

It just so happens that E.V. Baker at one time owned our farm and was operating a dairy!

Serendipity? Maybe so.

Another good factoid  some have told me is that our milking parlor may have been the first one in Essex County.

But I’ll have to research that more to know for sure.

Cornell University Research Farm in Willsboro, NY

The journey continues…


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