Episode 70: Anu Rangarajan


by Roger Sipe

Cornell Small Farms Program director Anu Rangarajan talks about supporting farmers as whole people, making farming communities more welcoming spaces, life as a strawberry farmer and a game-changing reduced-tillage technique.

Hear about how the Cornell University Small Farms Program free classes and resources can support your farming—whether your farm in New York or elsewhere—and how they differ from and work in conjunction with Cooperative Extension resources. Anu emphasizes the importance of building networks and utilizing local knowledge in building farms that are socially sustainable as well as sustainable in every other sense of the word. Learn about the Reconnecting with Purpose, Be Well Farming Project and other programs meant to support farmers as whole people and farms as whole systems. (If the concept of “listening like a cow” intrigues you, this is an episode for you.)

This episode is recorded just a week after the first Northeast Latino/a/x Agricultural Community Conference, and Anu asks the question, How is it that we welcome and create a sense of safety for people who are not from traditional white farmer audiences? As a woman of color working in production agriculture for a couple of decades, this is a question that’s been on her mind. Anu explains how the Cornell Small Farms Program is working on answers to the question from supporting farmworkers to cultivating pathways to farming.

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Get to know how Anu went from being a kid in Detroit to a premed student to a greenhouse employee to a vegetable specialist at a land-grant university. She talks about her organic U-pick strawberry farm—her experience “on the other side” of the research-production relationship. Learn about Anu’s research in small-scale vegetable production, minimum- and no-till system, and soil health. Keep listening for great info about using tarps in the garden to increase nutrient levels, reduce weed populations and more.

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