Jonathan McDonald

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Farming Status and Plans

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

Greetings! My name is Jon.  I have spent the last seven years farming around the world, ever since I enlisted in the Peace Corps in 2013.  I have worked on and managed farms in tropical and temperate regions, and have much experience in pasture-based livestock farming as well as agroforestry and organic vegetable production.  I am currently working for a pasture-based livestock farm that raises grass-fed beef & lamb; forest-raised pork; pastured poultry and eggs, outside of Eugene, Oregon.   I will be moving back to upstate NY (where I grew up and where my family currently resides) within the next year to seek land to start my own pasture-based livestock farm. My goal is to find a landowner who is offering a farm lease or farm manager position, and who has a property that ranges from 25 to 75 acres.  Other important traits I am looking for include: - Existing farm infrastructure (barns, handling facilities, water, fencing) - Land that has not been managed conventionally (no herbicide/pesticide residues) - Proximity to an urban/city center (prefer to be no more than 20 minutes' drive from an urban center). I plan to raise grass-fed beef and lamb, forest-raised pork, and pastured poultry.  I will market these products through a year-round CSA, farmers markets, restuarants, and a farm store.   I will implement regenerative agricultural practices and use management intensive grazing techniques to rotationally graze livestock and build fertility and diversity on pasture.  I plan to become certified by NOFA-NY 100% Grass-fed program and potentially USDA's Organic program.  For animal feed, I will use only non-GMO products.    

Description of marketing method:

I will do 100% direct marketing at farmers markets for the first season, to build my client base.  By year two, I will offer a year-round meat CSA option, as well as operate an on-farm store where customers can come to purchase cuts of meat.  

Does this farmer have a business plan?

In progress

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

  • Capital Area
    • Albany
    • Rensselaer
    • Saratoga
    • Washington
  • Hudson Valley
    • Columbia
    • Dutchess
    • Greene
    • Orange
    • Putnam
    • Rockland
    • Sullivan
    • Ulster
    • Westchester

Desired acreage:

11-20, 21-50, 51-100

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:

Handling facilties for farrowing, calving and brooding that are somewhat insulated for winter months Covered barn storage for hay, alfalfa, and supplemental feed Workshop space and covered (preferably) garage for tractor and farm equipment Space for the farm store (chest freezers)  As far as living facilities are concerned, I am OK with living in a very simple/rustic house (it's okay if there isn't even a toilet... I have plenty of experience using composting toilets). 

Description of farm equipment required:

I will eventually need to finance a tractor, livestock trailer, and full-size pickup truck.  If the farm comes with any of this equipment, that would be a HUGE bonus. Other desirable equipment includes a bobcat and an ATV. I am mechanically skilled, so old and rusty equipment would be OK. Electrical access will be necessary to power chest freezers that will be used to store cuts of meat that will be sold on-site at the farm store.

Description of water access required:

I will need well or spring access to water livestock.  I will not need to irrigate as I won't be growing crops.

Description of fencing required:

A perimeter fence, as well as several existing paddocks, would be ideal.  I am open to the idea of repairing existing perimeter fence, if it needs repair.

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Hay

Primary Livestock:

Cattle - Beef, Goats/Sheep, Pigs, Poultry, Other livestock

Description of livestock/crops:

My operation will focus exclusively on pasture-based livestock farming.  I plan to start with small herds and flocks, and gradually build their size over time by re-investing profits into the farm.  Beef and lamb will be 100% grass-fed, and pork will be raised in the forest with supplemental feed.  Poultry will be raised on pasture with supplemental feed as well.  

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

Farm Management, For Lease, Partnership, Other Tenure Agreement

Description of tenure options desired:

My preferred tenure option would be a lease agreement, with a rent-to-buy option in the future.  I am also open to working as a farm manager for an existing farm, if it aligns with my values and goals!

Additional Information

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

Yes

Experience & education:

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

Experience description:

My formal agricultural education started while I was enrolled in SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry from 2008 to 2012.  In 2013, I joined the Peace Corps and was enlisted as an Agroforestry extension agent in The Gambia (West Africa) until 2015.  In 2015, I enrolled in a year-long internship a the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia.  During my internship I engaged in several farm management roles.   I spent the next year working on several farms in Australia, and eventually made my way back to America in 2016, where I worked on a pasture-based livestock farm in South Carolina. In 2017, I enrolled in the Grange School of Adaptive Agriculture in California, and then went to complete my Masters in Environmental Management in Colorodo, while working to manage a local nonprofit farm (Mountain Roots Food Project) in Gunnison CO as a fellowship for my masters degree. In 2019 I enrolled in the Rogue Farm Corps' Advanced Apprenticeship program, and I am currently working for a pasture-based livestock farm outside of Eugene, Oregon.