Jenny Kessler

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Farming Status and Plans

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

After apprenticing on organic farms for 2.5 seasons in my early 20s, I moved to Brooklyn to pursue teaching. 
My patner and I have been living in Brooklyn for over a decade (with a couple years abroad in Rwanda and Borneo).  We now have a 2.5 year old and a dog.  I have been teaching ESL for over 12 years, and founded and directed a food justice program at one of my schools for 5 years.  This included a large organic garden, a food politics elective, a cooking club, and field trips to farms.  
We've been gardening in our backyard for years, and kept 3 laying hens as well, but we are finally ready to leave the city.  Our hope is to buy a small farm (or piece of land) that we can tend and care for.  The dream is to start an educational farm, bringing students and community members to the farm to learn about food, animals, and natural systems, or to simply enjoy the outdoors.
All practices would definitely be 100% sustainble/organic.  We know we would start small and plan to have off-farm jobs to support ourselves, at least for the first couple years.  My partner owns his own food product business, and I will teach online or in the community.
We know how tentative business plans can be, and we also know how difficult it can be to support yourself as a full-time farmer.  So at this point we plan to buy a place we know we can support ourselves with savings and a smaller income, but also have more time to pursue farming.

Description of marketing method:

This also depends on the property and the location where we end up.  We are open to farmer's markets, CSA, retail and restaurant sales, school trips, events, and founding an NGO.

Does this farmer have a business plan?

No

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

  • Hudson Valley
    • Columbia
    • Dutchess
    • Greene
    • Orange
    • Putnam
    • Rockland
    • Sullivan
    • Ulster
    • Westchester

Desired acreage:

1-5, 6-10, 11-20

Infrastructure required:

Onsite housing, Water access

Description of water access required:

Need water source for irrigation and animals.

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Vegetables

Primary Livestock:

Goats/Sheep, Poultry, Other livestock

Description of livestock/crops:

Our farm plan depends a lot on the property we end up with.  But, we know that on any property we would grow vegetables, as well as raise bees and laying hens. 
We are very interested in both goats and sheep if we have land for them, and possibly alpacas as well.

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Sale

Description of tenure options desired:

We are hoping to buy a small farm.  

Additional Information

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

No

Experience & education:

Farmer training or workshop

Experience description:

Farm Apprenticeships
Fresh and Local CSA, Shepherdstown, West Virginia: May-October 2004
Keith’s Farm, Port Jervis, NY: May-October 2003
Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook, NY: July-August 2002                                
Worked 75-95 hrs/wk. on these small organic farms.  Performed all duties necessary to grow, harvest, and sell vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  Managed all seeding, transplanting, and irrigation on the WV farm.
Urban Agriculture
AutoGarden, at Automotive HS, Brooklyn, NY: Founder and Director, 2007 - 2012
Built an extensive food justice program including a 2500 square foot organic garden, a cooking program, and an English class focused on food politics.  With no school resources for the program, fundraised over $10,000 and built lasting partnerships with local business and notable organizations.  Recruited and managed over 100 volunteers.  The program received press including CBS News, the New York Times, and the Huffington Post.