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Community solar providers like Nexamp are employing sheep to mow down their solar sites, giving Upstate New York sheep farmers an extra source of income and plenty of pasture for their flocks to graze on.

“Out in Geneva, a flock of sheep is spending its morning lazily munching on grass and clover.

But they’re not just on a typical pasture. They’re grazing on a solar farm, an open field with solar arrays that feed renewable energy into the local community grid.

Nexamp, a Massachussetts-based community solar provider, launched the site last February as part of an initiative to bring solar energy to Upstate New York residents. Solar farms are growing in the state thanks to the $1.4 billion the state invested towards renewable energy projects.

But the solar farms come with an added benefit: providing local sheep farmers with a new source of revenue and plenty of pasture…”

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On the farm: Urban Delights celebrates 20 years of youth development through agriculture 

For 20 years, local youth have been learning entrepreneurship skills by growing, harvesting and selling produce through Jubilee Homes' Urban Delights Farm Stand program while improving access to healthy food in Syracuse's food deserts.

Even on summer Fridays, 16-year-old Aniyah Everson is keeping busy.

She’s a working teen, helping harvest and sell produce grown at the nearly one-acre lot on Bellevue and Midland avenues.

Last month, Everson stood under the sun in a black hoodie amid raised beds thriving with greenery — from bushes of mint and basil to rows of swiss chard and tomato vines. She bent over a bed planted with beets and gently pulled one out.

Almost a decade ago, there were no beets on the lot, nor any of the other crops organically-grown there today.

The lot stood vacant until Jubilee Homes of Syracuse, Inc. purchased the property and turned it into an urban farm which houses their Southwest Community Learning Farm and Urban Delights, a program that teaches youth entrepreneurship skills through small-scale agriculture…”


Cortland’s forest preschool, where kids nap in hammocks and connect with nature year-round

Lime Hollow Forest Preschool is the only licensed outdoor preschool in Cortland County. The great outdoors is their classroom — in rain, shine or snow.

“Maryfaith Decker Miller and a group of six children trudged through the snow to get to a fire pit. It was a chilly Wednesday afternoon — 19 degrees, to be exact — but they were determined to start a fire and bake bread.

When they got there, two children helped Decker Miller start the fire. They took turns trying to light a match. The rest of the group slid down an icy hill one by one, screaming with laughter. One child departed from the group to pick up branches and build a fort.

This is a typical day at Lime Hollow Forest Preschool, the only licensed outdoor preschool in Cortland County. Although their activities change depending on the season, the concept behind them is the same: letting children explore their surroundings and learn new skills while connecting with nature. Here, the great outdoors is their classroom — in rain, shine or snow…”


From Somalia to Syracuse: How local program helps refugees grow and sell produce

The Syracuse Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program teaches refugees living in Syracuse how to farm, sell produce and launch a farm business.

Ahmed Abdirehman digs up a bunch of lettuce as the sun beats down on his neck.

He replants the lettuce on the other side of his plot of land at Salt City Harvest Farm, a 32-acre farm 12 miles outside the city of Syracuse. He planted them too close together, stunting their growth.

He wipes sweat off his brow and chuckles. "I don't know farming," he says.

Abdirehman, 56, is from Somalia. He fled to the U.S. in 2009 from his country's civil wars.

He came from a family of farmers. Now, he's learning how to farm the American way because he wants his own farm to grow organic produce…”