Ryan Gellis

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Farming Status and Plans

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

I am interested in progressing into the role of a farmer/landowner, either through the route of farm apprenticeship program or through purchase of a small plot with an option to expand in the future.
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY but I've always had a love of the outdoors, food and farming. I studied environmental science and then became a certified arborist, climber & pruner. I went on to work as a natural resources technician, parks department project coordinator, gardener, food garden educator at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and now I am the curator of the 1 acre garden at the Old Stone House, a historic house trust in Brooklyn. 
I consider myself a competent vegetable grower, with plenty of useful skills in machine management (chainsaw, chipper, tractor, bucket truck) and certifications (Class B driver's license w/ air brakes, ISA certifified arborist). 
I'm looking for opportunities to take all of my applicable skills and direct them towards the business of farming through an apprenticeship or co-farming opportunity. I want to grow and provide healthy food, alongside environmental education programming, to people who need more of these important things in their life. I intend to focus primarily on growing produce, legumes and grains, but I have a strong interest in managaing woodlands for selective timber procurement as well as foraged crops such as ginseng, mushrooms, maple syrup, etc.
I am a proponent of organic agriculture and a student of permaculture. Ideally I would become certified organic but I am also open to using IPM and permaculture techniques without the certification.
Ideally I'd love to get some more insight into sustainable, diverse, farming business models from people who have made it work.

Description of marketing method:

I am most interested in the CSA model or selling directly to restaurants and/or food cooperatives. I would like to provide a range of desirable vegetables, specifically, less commonly available hybrids that are of interest to food enthusiasts. I am also interested in providing value-added products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kale/beet chips, bread, tofu, tempeh, etc.

Does this farmer have a business plan?

In progress

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

  • Capital Area
    • Albany
  • Hudson Valley
    • Columbia
    • Dutchess
    • Greene
    • Sullivan
    • Ulster
    • Westchester

Desired acreage:

1-5, 6-10, 11-20, 21-50, 51-100, >100

Infrastructure required:

Onsite housing

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Ornamentals, Other Crops

Primary Livestock:

Poultry, Other livestock

Description of livestock/crops:

I would consider raising some hens and keeping some bees.

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Lease, Partnership, For Sale

Description of tenure options desired:

In the long term I am interested in owning my own piece of land and farming as I see fit. In the short term I would ideally work with someone who could get me up to speed on the best business practices of a sustainable, diverse farm system.
When it comes time to buy land I would prefer to purchase something with some farming infrastructure and a soil quality that can sustain vegetable and grain crops. Previous use of organic farming techniques and/or sustainable soil management is a plus.

Additional Information

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


Experience & education:

Other, Farm internship/apprenticeship

Experience description:

I began learning about farming through partaking in the Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program. I worked on a fig farm in Evvia, Greece, and a timber/berry/beekeeping farm in Estonia. I continued my career entering into gardening education at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, before becoming a natural resources project coordinator for the NYC Dept. of Parks. I worked towards my ISA arborist certification and spent three years as a climber and pruner and then the supervisor of arboriculture for the Prospect Park Alliance. I am now employed as the curator of gardens at the Old Stone House where I manage a farm/vegetable garden, an herb garden, a medicinal garden and a flower and pollinator garden. On this farm we use permaculture techniques including composting, intercropping, and multiple integrated pest management techniques. 
I have had experience working as a hand on larger farms and managing my own single-acre food production space. I am a competent woodsman and tree identifier and feller. I have an enthusiasm for good food, traditional and modern preparation techniques and community-based sales models. I am an educator and a hard worker with an appreciation for the values of sustainability, restoring ecosystems and living in harmony with nature.
What I lack is experience farming to scale and understanding the various business systems that get products sold. I am currently searching for opportunities to learn more and fill these knowledge deficits through an apprenticeship or working with a farmer interested in eventually turning their property over to another farmer.