Brian Zimmerman

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Farming Status and Plans

Years actively farming:

10+

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

It has become more evident then ever before that we need innovative farming methods to produce our food. Climate change, habitat loss and pollinator decline are three key issues that need to be addressed. We have lost many of the old tried and true common sense ways of farming and replaced them with fully mechinized and chemical dependent methods. It is necessary that we marry these methods to grow our foods locally. The plan for the farm is to use the knowledge gained through Cornell University, USDA and organic organizations to use no-till and minimum till crop production, drip irrigation, natural nitrogen and soil organic matter building cover crops, manures, and other low impact methods. And still use science, testing, innovative mechines and experts to manage the crops and farm. The areas not suitable for crops will need to be used for its highest and best use for pollinator protection, natural habitats and animal corridors. As the farm develops it will need to be used to teach others how to use these methods to protect our environment for future generations. 

Description of marketing method:

There are many methods of marketing from CSA's to pick your own and farmstands to farmers markets to wholesale clients. The best method is partly dependent of location. 

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

  • Adirondack Region
    • Clinton
    • Essex
    • Franklin
    • Hamilton
    • Warren
  • Capital Area
    • Albany
    • Fulton
    • Montgomery
    • Rensselaer
    • Saratoga
    • Schenectady
    • Schoharie
    • Washington
  • Hudson Valley
    • Columbia
    • Delaware
    • Dutchess
    • Greene
    • Orange
    • Putnam
    • Rockland
    • Sullivan
    • Ulster
    • Westchester

Desired acreage:

6-10, 11-20, 21-50

Infrastructure required:

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

Description of infrastructure:

Vegetable production will require a building to house the planting equipment and tractor maintenance, hand tools, storage for boxes and packing materials and other hard materials. On the harvest side of vegetable production a packing room, cold storage and loading dock would be helpful. On the animal side of the operation three sided houses needs to be constructed for weather protection. These houses can be created and doesn't need to be in place. Cold storage and a freezer will eventually need to be added to store the processed meats.  If possible a building for a sales floor would be helpful. Water access is three fold the first is for drip irrigation, the second for the animals and third to clean the produce. Fencing requirements are describle under fencing requirements and are used to keep animals in or out depending on the need. Electrical access would be helpful in the buildings for lights, tools and equipment. 

Description of buildings required:

Buildings are a requirement for any smooth running operation. Ideally the buildings will be solid and suitable for the purpose needed. The onsite building should be or can be convertable to any of the purposes. Vegetable production will require a building to house the planting equipment and tractor maintenance, hand tools, storage for boxes and packing materials and other hard materials. On the harvest side of vegetable production a packing room, cold storage and loading dock would be helpful. On the animal side of the operation three sided houses needs to be constructed for weather protection. These houses can be created and doesn't need to be in place. Cold storage and a freezer will eventually need to be added to store the processed meats.  If possible a building for a sales floor would be helpful. 

Description of water access required:

Water on a farm is very important for many reasons. A well, city water, stream or pond are four options that can be used. For irrigation and possible animal drinking based on quality and testing a stream or pond is adaquate. For the cleaning of vegetables and potable use a well or city water is needed.

Description of fencing required:

There are many issues facing farmers who grow both vegetables and animals. There will be a need for two types of fencing depending on the local condition. On Long Island, where my experience was developed, the deer population is large enough that crops were damaged and sometimes decimated by their grazing. The more important fence for beef and chicken grazing would be fencing for pasture rotation. The animal numbers and acreage needed for a good pasture system has to be calibrated. This leaves enough time for the grass regrowth as the animals rotate through the system. The perimeter fence should be stable and of an adequate strength to hold the animals in. The inside fences can be double strand portable solar electric fencing.

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Vegetables, Fruits, Grains

Primary Livestock:

Cattle - Beef, Poultry

Description of livestock/crops:

In todays changing world it is important to look at trends and also to see the big picture of crop development. People are more conscious of what they eat and how it is grown. Vegetables and fruits are becoming more of a staple in peoples diets. At the same time the quality, taste, and flavor has gone down. People see good looking lettuce but it is bland the same with other vegetables. This is a trend that needs to be corrected. To correct this the soil quality needs to increase and the varieties chosen has to work together. Various varieties of tomatoes, lettuces, beans, okra, zuchini, cucumbers will be grown depending on conditions. In rotation to these crops barley, rye and wheat will be used as a cover crop and early season commodity.  Fruit is perennial and elderberry and blueberries will be grown. Rotational chickens for the farm will be Cornish Cross or Freedom Rangers. These birds have good attributes for being raised on a pasture. Beef cattle will be a minor part of the operation but necessary to keep the pastures trimed clear without using mechanical  means.

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Lease, Partnership, Other Tenure Agreement

Description of tenure options desired:

There are three options that are attractive to me in the right situation. A partnership agreement would appeal to me if both individuals have complimentary skills and direction. The benefits of a lease agreement would be desired for the growth of the operation and the land base was not adequate for future expansion. The third option that fits is if circumstances allow a lease to own or transfer of ownership.    

Additional Information

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

Unsure

Experience & education:

Formal agricultural education, On farm work experience, Farmer training or workshop, Other

Experience description:

Farming is not a career that should be entered lightly. Experience is something that is required. I graduated from SUNY Farmingdale with a degree in agronomy. The school had a farm where I worked 6 years in the orchard and on the dairy. From there I worked for Cornell Cooperative Extension on the county farm doing fieldwork as well as raising the beef cows and hogs. Concurrent to this a partner and I had a 5 acre vegetable farm and stand. The next developmental growth was with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service creating whole farm plans, developing new farms, designing engineering systems and running programs. In the next iteration as the the a District Manager of the Nassau County Soil and Water District we created and concentrated on environmental methods to save water and soil on urban properties and urban agriculture. Additional trainings in soil preservation and no-till methods round out the education. In New York State the farm brewery law brought on an interest in barley and grain production. Farmer brewery training and working with grain growers help develop and interest in these crops.