Alexa Berko

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Farming Status and Plans

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

Currently my partner and I own and operate a livestock operation raising sheep and goats that are grass fed/finished and rotationally grazed on leased pastures for meat, hides and fiber production that we retail weekly in a well established NYC farmers market. After managing and operating farms for the past 13 years combined, we are approaching the end of our lease agreement and are looking to begin the transition to a larger property in order to expand and diversify our operation. 

Description of marketing method:

We are currently selling direct to consumer at a well established NYC farmers market as well as a small online retail presence. Marketing through word of mouth and social media presence, we have managed to maintain and grow a following as well as a demand for products.  

Does this farmer have a business plan?

Yes

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

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

Desired acreage:

11-20, 21-50, 51-100, >100

Infrastructure required:

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

Description of buildings required:

We are searching for a property that would have access to either a barn/pole building to be used for hay storage, freezer and tool storage as well as serve as a location to overwinter livestock and serve as a lambing/kidding barn. This/these buildings ideally would have access to electric and water. Housing on site would also be ideal, if this isn’t an option, available housing would have to be in close proximity.   

Description of farm equipment required:

We would require a tractor with a brush hog or rotary mower equivalent. Ideally the tractor would also have a front end loader with a bucket and pallet forks. If there is any other equipment that is available it is definitely a huge help but the bare minimum would be a tractor and mower. Leasing or purchasing any appropriate equipment that may be available on the property would be beneficial.

Description of water access required:

Water access for pastures is ideal but not required as we would be willing to install portable irrigation lines to provide our animals with access to fresh water during the grazing season. Our irrigation system would however require a frost free hydrant with close proximity to pastures and a frost free hydrant in a barn or shelter.   

Description of fencing required:

In an ideal situation, pastures would be fenced with a permanent perimeter fence of high tensile or page wire. We have some perimeter fence which consists of t-posts, plastic step in posts and poly wire that we can install onsite as needed.

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Vegetables, Fruits, Hay, Other Crops

Primary Livestock:

Goats/Sheep, Other livestock

Description of livestock/crops:

Actively raising grass fed/finished sheep and goats for meat and hides. We also harvest the wool from our sheep to turn into value added products that I then spin, knit, crochet, felt or weave.  We are interested in expanding and diversifying, raising rabbits for meat and some perennials and annuals (berries, rhubarb, etc). Can be creative with diversification depending on the what the farm can support. 

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Lease, For Sale, Other Tenure Agreement

Description of tenure options desired:

We are seeking either a long term lease agreement, lease to own property or to purchase a property. We would consider partnership or management of existing business if things are a good fit.   

Additional Information

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

Yes

Experience & education:

Formal agricultural education, Farm owner, On farm work experience, Farm internship/apprenticeship, Farmer training or workshop

Experience description:

I grew up in the suburbs of central New Jersey and was exposed to agriculture through a local 4-H Program. After high school, I received my bachelor's degree from Delaware Valley College in Conservation and Wildlife Management. It was there that I began my farming career at a local dairy farm and quickly accelerated working and assisting management of a 40 acre organic vegetable farm in PA (where I also worked with my partner who is also a Del Val graduate with a degree in Agronomy and Environmental Science ), while also completing a farmer training program called The Seed Farm. I always had an interest in raising livestock so my partner and I relocated to the Hudson Valley where I completed the livestock apprenticeship at Glynwood. It was a few years after the completion of my apprenticeship that we began our farm as well as actively working at a nearby organic vegetable operation in addition to co-operating our farm.    .