Farmhearts Awards Fellowship to
Innovative Third Generation Farmer
“It takes more than a rake and hoe to make a farm work these days,” says Sonia Janiszewski Persichilli, our 2011 Farmhearts Fellow. A third-generation farmer, Sonia has seen her grandparent’s dairy farm, Wildflower Farm, evolve into a operation that now raises tilapia, cattle, horses, chickens and vegetables. She understands that today’s farmer also needs to be adaptable and adept at business and marketing if they are to survive and thrive. As a Farmhearts Fellow, Sonia will be developing essential skills through her work with the Farm to Market Program of the Watershed Agricultural Council. She’ll be devoting her time to two projects to aid her fellow farmer.
“We have farmers in our region aging out of farming while demand for their products is growing and land prices prevent beginning farmers from purchasing their own operations. How do we connect the dots for those aspiring to fill the shoes of agricultural entrepreneurs of the past?”
Sonia believes that part of the answer is Catskill Farmlink, a website she’s helping to develop, and a new regional program called CatskillCRAFT. CRAFT stands for “Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training”, and the program Sonia is designing is modeled on the highly successful (and much replicated) original C.R.A.F.T. that serves the Berkshires and Hudson Valley. CatskillCRAFT will provide farm interns with an opportunity to network with one another and to benefit from mentoring by experienced farmers. CRAFT farm visits sometimes include work sessions that tackle projects too big for individual farmers to undertake on their own.
Farmhearts provided $12,000 for the 2011 Fellowship, and we’re committed to funding a second Fellow in 2012.