The Lyson Center in collaboration with the Cornell University Cooperative Enterprise Program, the Community and Regional Development Institute at Cornell, and the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development is pleased to announce the launch of the "Agri-Cluster Resilience and Expansion" (ACRE) Program and its pilot application with the Black Dirt onion growers in New York. The project leadership team includes farmers Judy Queale-Dunsmoor of John Dunsmoor Farms, Inc., Chris Pawelski of Pawelski Farms, Bobbie Severson Director of the CU Cooperative Enterprise Program, David Kay of Cornell's Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI), and Dr. Philippe Jeanneaux of the France National University of Agronomy and Veterinary. Lyson Center Co-Director Duncan Hilchey is serving as PI and project manager. Funding is being provided by the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development. Advisors to the project include Cornell Cooperative Extension staff, as well as state and USDA staff. Three Center for Transformative Action board members are also advisors to this project: Dr. Cathy Enz, Professor Emeritus of Strategy and Business Economics, Cornell University; Steve Holzbaur, a value-chain consultant of Ithaca, NY, and Steve Messmer of Messmer Consulting (and Co-Owner of Lively Run Dairy in Interlaken, NY).
This multidisciplinary team of researchers, land-grant programs, farmers, NGOs, and Extension staff will develop the ACRE value-chain planning process in the fall of 2020 (creating an American version of an existing French program call "PERF"), and then pilot the ACRE process working with muck onion growers in New York. The onion growers are considering developing a new midscale value chain that will compete more effectively the market in Northeast and across the U.S. ACRE will help the growers envision and decide whether to create a state-wide farmer-owned onion business.