Chris Plano

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Farming Status and Plans

Years actively farming:

Less than 2

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

After years of living, working, and studying abroad we are looking to return home and establish our forever home and farm closer to family and friends in the western New York area. We want to have a positive impact on the food system and live a better lifestyle that is more in touch with the natural world. We intend to make the farming venture a profitable business, but not at the cost of quality or sustainability. In the initial years, we expect to have off-farm income, with the hope to transition away from this if possible. We want to produce sustainable, organic (certified or not) vegetables, fruit, honey, and eggs at a minimum.

Description of marketing method:

We plan to direct market as much as possible through farm markets, a CSA, and possibly to restaurants. An on-farm store/stall may be an option depending on farm location. 

Does this farmer have a business plan?

No

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

  • Adirondack Region
    • Clinton
    • Essex
    • Franklin
    • Hamilton
    • Warren
  • Central
    • Chenango
    • Cortland
    • Herkimer
    • Madison
    • Oneida
    • Onondaga
    • Oswego
    • Otsego
  • Finger Lakes
    • Cayuga
    • Livingston
    • Monroe
    • Ontario
    • Seneca
    • Schuyler
    • Tompkins
    • Wayne
    • Yates
  • Southern Tier
    • Allegany
    • Broome
    • Chemung
    • Steuben
    • Tioga
  • Western
    • Cattaraugus
    • Chautauqua
    • Erie
    • Genesee
    • Niagara
    • Orleans
    • Wyoming

Desired acreage:

11-20

Infrastructure required:

Onsite housing, Barns or other facilities for storage of equipment, livestock, and crops, Water access, Fencing, Electrical Access

Description of infrastructure:

Stated above. 

Description of buildings required:

Our ideal farm would include a home for ourselves and a chicken coop/run, fenced fields for crops, and hoophouses. We plan to purchase the farm and expect to make additions and improvements so not everything needs to be in place at time of purchase. 

Description of water access required:

Potable water for household use as well as water for irrigation within hoophouses. A natural stream would be a plus!

Description of fencing required:

Predator-proof fencing for the chicken run and deer-proof fencing for the field crops. Again, these items do not necessarily need to be in place at time of purchase. 

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Vegetables, Fruits, Ornamentals

Primary Livestock:

Poultry

Description of livestock/crops:

  • Chickens for eggs
  • Bees for pollination and honey
  • Cut flowers
  • Vegetables 
  • Fruit (bluberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • Fruit trees (apples, etc.)

 

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Sale

Description of tenure options desired:

We plan to make our farm a profitable yet environmentally sustainable business venture that will also be our home indefinitely.

Additional Information

Will this farmer's operation qualify an eligible landowner for an Agricultural Assessment?

Yes

Experience & education:

On farm work experience, Other

Experience description:

We both have undergraduate degrees in Environmental Science, with a focus in the US food system. During our time in college in a small town in northwest PA, we regularly worked on a non-certified organic farm where we learned the practical realities of running a farm, complying with regulations, and partnering with local markets and other groups. Elise had a number of agriculture and food related jobs during college semesters, including working with community groups on initiatives to connect underserved community members with local food.

During her study abroad, Elise worked on a small non-certified organic farm in Ecuador, managing the CSA program and actively working to plant, harvest, and pack. Elise joined the Peace Corps after college and served as a Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agent in rural Senegal, West Africa. She worked directly with farmers to increase the use of living fences using indigenous species and to promote best practices for small-scale vegetable production. Elise also supported tree nursery development for mangos, citrus, and cashews, the main cash crop in southwestern Senegal. She also supported the use of improved field crop varieties to increase yields and income among rural farmers. Since returning from Peace Corps, Elise has worked in development and most recently supported agricultural projects in northeastern Syria.

Chris also joined the Peace Corps after college, serving in Zambia as a Rural Aquaculture Program volunteer. He worked with interested farmers to promote tilapia production for household food as well as income. Daily work included teaching farmers how to manage their ponds for the best yields, including feeding fish using locally available resources such as termites and protecting fish from predators. Chris also promoted the integration of fish production and gardening as a holistic and mutually complementary method for increasing production in a sustainable way. In between his outreach work, Chris participated in his host family’s agricultural activities and planted his own small plot of corn, peanuts, sunflowers, and sweet potatoes for two seasons using local techniques. In addition, he raised a flock of chickens, starting with one hen that was gifted by his host grandmother. The flock grew and so did his love for and understanding of chickens.