CCE Tioga invests in future of local farming in Candor


(Candor, NY) – CCE Tioga is proud to announce it has been awarded a $525K grant from the USDA. On November 15, the USDA announced that it will invest $24 million toward 45 organizations that teach and train beginning farmers, included in those 45 organizations was Cornell Cooperative Extension Tioga’s incubator farm program at Hilltop Community Farm. These grant funds will be used by Hilltop Community Farm (HCF) to launch a farm incubator program for beginning farmers.  

“Access to land is a barrier for many beginning farmers,” says CCE Tioga Executive Director T Hanson. “We’re helping beginning farmers develop their complete farm business plan so that they will have the experience necessary to succeed and the end of the incubator term.”  

In 2021, CCE Tioga purchased a 107-acre farm in Candor and named it Hilltop Community Farm. One of the primary goals of HCF is to serve as a farm incubator for beginning farmers and as a model for regenerative agriculture techniques and systems. The vision is to host diverse set of aspiring farmers working the land using regenerative techniques, learning from on-site mentors as well as experienced local farmers, Cornell staff and researchers, and from each other in a mutually beneficial system. This three-year grant from the USDA will help HCF to lower the barriers to entry for beginning farmers, provide training and assist successful incubator farmers transition to their own land. 

Recognizing the unique needs of beginning farmers, HCF will provide tools and infrastructure to help these beginning farmers to be successful in their tenure at the farm as well as supporting them as they transition to land of their own. 

HCF has closed the first round of Incubator Farmer applications and is excited to welcome the first cohort of beginning farmers in the Spring of 2023. You can learn more about CCE Tioga, Hilltop Community Farm and the Beginning Farmer Incubator Program on their website:  

This investment is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BRDDP) that supports a wide range of professional development activities for new farmers and ranchers. 

“We recognize that beginning farmers and ranchers have unique needs for education, training and technical assistance. Their success, especially in the first 10 years, often hinges on access to reliable, science-based information and the latest educational resources so they can improve their operations’ profitability and sustainability long-term,” said NIFA Acting Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. 

NIFA’s BFRDP funds three types of projects: 

  • Standard Projects to new and established local and regional training, education, outreach and technical assistance initiatives that address the unique local and regional needs of beginning farmers and ranchers. 
  • Educational Team Projects to develop seamless beginning farmer and rancher education programs by conducting evaluation, coordination, and enhancement activities for Standard Projects and other non-funded beginning farmer programs. 
  • Curriculum and Training Clearinghouse to make educational curricula and training materials available to beginning farmers and ranchers and organizations who directly serve them. 

NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. In FY2022, NIFA’s total investment was $2.2B.