To help those just entering the farming profession, Cornell University has produced 12 online videos that feature subjects from planning to marketing.

The videos feature interviews with 12 enterprising farmers and are part of the New York Beginning Farmer Project. They can be viewed at http://www.nybeginningfarmers.org/.

"The videos are just chock-full of the kind of advice that can only come from people who have experience," says Erica Frenay, an Extension associate with the Small Farms Program at Cornell and the New York Beginning Farmer project manager.

The series, which comprises themed videos from two to 18 minutes in length, is one of the first steps in a new farmer mentoring program.

"We would ideally love to see any new farmer in the state have access to a mentor," Frenay says, adding that such mentoring would require additional funds. "But in the meantime we feel like these videos provide some farmer-to-farmer learning that's a bit more general."

The New York Beginning Farmer Project covers topics that new farmers typically ask Extension agents.

"A lot of the [experienced] farmers are saying the same things that I might tell a new farmer, but it carries more weight when it comes from somebody who is actually out in the fields every day and has gone through the experience of starting up a farm," Frenay says.

The series gives an authentic picture of the challenges new farmers face.

"You have to be prepared as well as you can if you're going to get into a farming operation," says Rick Reisinger, manager of  Cornell Orchards and the owner of an orchard in Watkins Glen, N.Y.  "And that means having as much knowledge about whatever you're going to get into, and you have to have more knowledge than the next guy."

In addition to covering business planning, marketing, insurance coverage, land maintenance, grants and product diversity, the videos also cover some of the diverse reasons why farmers begin their operations.