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Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm

Field Day at Thompson Research Farm

Freeville, NY
The Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm is located 10 miles from the Cornell campus. It is a primary location for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' historically important vegetable research. Thompson Farm serves several departments, including Horticulture, Entomology, Plant Breeding and Plant Pathology. The 260-acre farm includes a 30-acre certified organic parcel for organic vegetable and grain research. Well-known by local citizens, the farm is popular for its "field days," which give local commercial farmers and amateur gardeners the chance to learn about state-of-the-art planting and best management practices. The farm is managed by Cornell AES as a site for interdisciplinary research aimed at optimizing vegetable production systems for the Northeast.

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Research Highlights

  • Students are planting different kale varieties at Thompson Research FarmVegetable weed management studies include trials on natural weed control with nurse and cover crops, rotations and cultivation equipment, as well as studies on the optimum use of herbicides, to develop appropriate labeling for herbicide use on vegetable crops.
  • Testing the newest breeding lines of potatoes with best potential of production in New York, to develop appropriate cultural practices, utilization recommendations and yield assessments, which assists local growers in successfully adopting these new varieties.
  • On the certified organic acres, research includes trials on vegetable cover cropping; vegetable, wheat and field corn variety trials for organic systems; crop rotations; minimum tillage and the effects of organic nutrient sources on soil quality, to identify new strategies for vegetable production. 
  • Research on cucurbit crop diseases and late blight on potatoes is evaluating the effectiveness of fungicides and developing new treatment options. The cucurbit family includes squash, zucchini, pumpkin, cucumber and melon.
  • Bacterial food safety tests on leafy greens, melons, potatoes and other produce aim to develop the scientific knowledge needed to prevent and control foodborne diseases. This research looks in particular at possible contamination through rain and irrigation from soil, compost and mulch. Learn more

Organic Agriculture at Homer C. Thompson

The Freeville Organic Research Farm -- 30 acres certified organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic LLC -- is the home of Cornell's ground-breaking organic agricultural research. Research focuses on optimizing organic vegetable production systems in the Northeast.

Researchers are currently conducting trials on organic production systems in order to meet the short-term and long-term needs of organic farmers. Organic farming is a small but important segment of the U.S. farming market. It offers small- and mid-size farms an option that can improve economic viability and environmental sustainability. It is also the only sector with an increasing numbers of farmers. Organic practices are moving beyond a "niche" market and are an increasingly an important part of today's agricultural landscape.

Annual Food Donations

Truck picking up food donationsEvery year, the farm donates large amounts of fresh produce to local food banks and non-profit food networks. Since 2004 over 1 million pounds of produce were donated, including potatoes, corn, green beans, peppers, cabbage, beets, melons, squash, pumpkins and collard greens to local area food banks to distribute to families in need.

In 2013 alone the farm's produce donations to community groups totaled over 91,000 pounds.