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  • Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Freeville Research Farm
  • Agriculture
  • Vegetables

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (Cornell AES) employee Rick Randolph has been chosen as the new manager of the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm in Freeville, NY. He was selected from a pool of candidates by a committee that included researchers, staff members and a former research farm manager.

“The users of the facility – the faculty, technicians and staff – have a great deal of respect for Rick,” said Shawn Bossard ’89, director of agricultural operations for Cornell AES. “Rick knows what he’s doing; he’s low-key but also a perfectionist. He’s responsive and very knowledgeable. He gets along great with the staff and researchers that work out there. And his promotion from within means there’s no transition or learning curve in the service we provide.”

Randolph was raised on a dairy farm in Cortland and worked at Agway and a chemical company before being hired at Thompson Research Farm as a field assistant in 2008. The previous farm manager, Steve McKay, retired this spring after 38 years at the farm.

“The legacy before me is kind of hard to achieve,” Randolph said. “Steve left huge shoes to fill and I’m just hoping to continue what he’s accomplished and improve upon it if I can.”

Thompson Research Farm’s first priority has always been and will continue to be serving the researchers who conduct field experiments there, Randolph said. One project Randolph would like to undertake is digitizing farm records, which are still kept in paper files. Researchers and graduate students from years before sometimes contact the farm asking for records of their experiments, and having records digitized and available online would keep them safer and make them more accessible, he said. 

The vegetable breeding and disease management work done at the farm benefits New York state growers by providing new varieties and management resources that help farmers use fewer chemicals while better protecting crops, Randolph said. 

“All the plant breeding – the tomatoes and kale Phil Griffiths grows, the squash Michael Mazourek does, and many other projects – that all benefits the farmer,” Randolph said. “It’s all part of our land grant mission in service to the community and the state.”


Krisy Gashler is a freelance writer for the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

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