Jay Mealy

I am a passionate, creative and systems-minded small-scale farmer and regenerative gardener in my 30’s. I have a an abundance of energy, care, and dedication, with the experience to back it, to reciprocally give to the land and the larger community.

Preferred counties/regions

  • North Country
  • Clinton County
  • Saint Lawrence County
  • Essex County
  • Franklin County
  • Hamilton County
  • Jefferson County
  • Lewis County
  • Capital Region
  • Albany County
  • Columbia County
  • Greene County
  • Rensselaer County
  • Saratoga County
  • Schenectady County
  • Warren County
  • Washington County
  • Hudson Valley
  • Dutchess County
  • Ulster County
  • Sullivan County
  • Orange County
  • Putnam County
  • Westchester County
  • Rockland County
  • Mohawk Valley
  • Fulton County
  • Montgomery County
  • Schoharie County
  • Otsego County
  • Herkimer County
  • Oneida County
  • Central
  • Cortland County
  • Madison County
  • Onondaga County
  • Oswego County
  • Cayuga County
  • Genesee County
  • Livingston County
  • Orleans County
  • Wyoming County
  • Monroe County
  • Ontario County
  • Seneca County
  • Wayne County
  • Yates County
  • Southern Tier
  • Broome County
  • Chemung County
  • Chenango County
  • Delaware County
  • Schuyler County
  • Steuben County
  • Tioga County
  • Tompkins County
  • Allegany County
  • Cattaraugus County
  • Chautauqua County
  • Erie County
  • Niagara County
  • Long Island
  • Nassau County
  • Suffolk County
  • New York City
  • Bronx County
  • Brooklyn County
  • New York County
  • Queens County
  • Richmond County

Desired acreage

  • 5 or fewer
  • 6-10
  • 11-20
  • 21-50
  • 51-100

Farming Status

Beginning farmer: 10 years or less of experience managing a farm business

Currently farming part-time

Primary reason for farming

Farm will generate the majority of my income

Farming status, plans, and practices

I grew up in towns outside of the Catskills of New York and the Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. About half of my experience in farming, land care, and garden design has been in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (see below), and the more recent half has been in the Pacific Northwest. For three years, I farmed and stewarded a historical 20 acre homestead in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, where I learned about regenerative land and animal systems.  As the Operations Coordinator for the homestead's nonprofit, my primary undertakings were apprenticeship and education in pruning-having pruned the historic apple, pear, and plum orchards each season; grafting fruit trees to sell; maintenance and upkeep of the land and facilities; caring for goats, sheep, and turkeys; coordination between the trust and the nonprofit; and management of the camping program.  Off the farm, I also managed (part-time) a neighbor’s small vegetable and herb farm.  

Currently, I am studying ecological psychology and environmental humanities at a graduate level as I work as Earth Care Manager at a care farm and animal sanctuary nonprofit. I am now stepping even further into both management and vegetable production, piloting a brand new Earth Care program, and coordinating volunteers and service learning groups of diverse individuals on garden, land care, and creative ecological projects. I absolutely love the work, however my heart belongs back east, where I would like to settle down and grow this type of work with other like-minded folks.

I have worked hard to find the intersections of the things that I enjoy and that support me.  I love what I do and I am ready for the responsibility and sovereignty of stewarding land of my own.  I hope to find a spot in the Appalachians to call home.  

Right away, I want to: Learn about the local and surrounding ecosystem of the prospective land; create (or learn the current) systems for caring for the plants, animals, and buildings already present on the land; build soil as needed; get basic landscape, infrastructure, farm, and business systems established; and start to design a self-supporting regenerative/agroforestry plan for the land.

Short-term business goals include: Developing a perennial fruit and medicinal plant nursery that may support a part-time ecological gardening and restoration business while I get myself established. (A potential nursery could extend into the long-term goal of growing perennials, forage, and pollinators for the farm.)

Depending on the land and situation, I would like to begin growing medicinal herbs for value-added products as soon as I am able. If there is an orchard or other perennial fruit system present, I would want to give my attention to the health of those plants, and am interested in renovating overgrown orchards if needed. I would process fruits for the production of healthy, fermented drinks (like fruit "kvass"), vinegars, and syrups.

I would like to begin leading small classes or workshops on topics related to all of the above within a year or two.

My long-term vision (ie dream) is to establish an herb, fruit tree, mushroom and annual and perennial food farm that includes animals (ducks, chickens, and possibly sheep and/or goats). I am interested in incorporating woodlands into the animal and food systems over time, experimenting and record-keeping my experiences in agroforestry as I go. (I hope to support the research and development of this field over time.)

In addition to producing value-added products of fruits and herbs on-site, my commitment is to steward and develop land that may become a place of retreat, education, and/or working community. I am a dirt-minded designer who really enjoys the behind-the-scenes work of creating beautiful, accessible, and enjoyable spaces. I envision the farm ultimately having experiential and/or educational components such as minimal retreat-style offerings, plant medicine consultations, and workshops on topics like ecological psychology and land-based arts. I strongly believe in finding creative ways (work-trades, bartering) to make such offerings accessible to the community, without funds limiting that access.

Depending on the size of the property, I may want to be a part of a team of stewards over time. These may be individuals from the community, or possibly folks who would share the land. I have been involved with cooperative, collective, and guild styled organizations, and love to see how experts, specialists, and lovers of their craft can support the larger vision while being equally supported in their lifeways.

Farm Experience & Education

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

Beginning in 2014, I worked on two different small-scale diversified organic produce farms for three years in rural western PA.  For several years during and after, I helped with farmers' markets in Pittsburgh for one of the farms I had been growing produce on.  After some time of farming (and selling) for other people, I came to realize my interest in working for myself and my knack for business.  But I was living in the city and not ready to own land or settle down.  So I began my back-and-front yard urban farmette for personal consumption and fermented foods as I apprenticed with Pittsburgh Permaculture.  I soon thereafter began my work in ecological landscaping both independently and along with a collective of other women landscapers for a total of five years. 

Before ever traversing the paths of farming and landscaping, I had graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in Interdisciplinary Arts and Psychology.  More and more, I am smitten to find that the subjects of art, music, and the mind are very at home in the potato patch with the singing red-winged blackbird or the mason jar of "interdisciplinary" garden contents. 

I am currently working on a Master's in Ecological Psychology.  I also continuously educate myself through workshops, classes, reading, and videos on regenerative farming, pruning, land restoration, mycology (Western PA Mushroom Club, Radical Mycology & New Moon Mycology), herbalism, and business.  Previous/ongoing tracks of education are: Agricultural Entrepreneurship (WSU), Herbal Immersion Program (Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine) and Master Pruner Course Series (Plant Amnesty, Seattle); as well additional courses on Fruit Tree Care at the Home Orchard Education Center in Oregon City.

Annual vegetable cultivation and/or sales—8 years
Perennial garden design & business—8 years
Livestock and poultry experience (goats, sheep, pigs, turkeys, chickens)—4 years
Perennial plant cultivation and propagation—4 years
Fruit trees—4 years
Study and practice of healing with herbs and food—both cultivated and responsibly foraged from the wild—10 years

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jess-mealy-bb0b29aa/

Farming Plans and Practices

Farming method or practice

  • Organic (certified)
  • Organic (not certified)
  • Regenerative/Sustainable

Primary crops

  • black outline of a carrot Vegetables
  • black outline apple icon Fruits
  • black outline of a flower Flowers or Ornamentals
  • black outline of a wheat germ Grains
  • black outline hay icon Hay
  • black outline maple icon Maple
  • black outline other crops icon Other Crops

Primary livestock

  • Black outline of a sheep Goats/Sheep
  • Black outline of a chicken Poultry
  • Black outline of a bee Bees

I am interested in minimal livestock both to support a plant-based business using regenerative practices as well as for personal egg and milk products.  Ducks and chickens would be for eggs and pest control.  I may possibly want to raise goats and/or sheep for fertilization of garden beds as well as dairy for personal consumption.  I haven't worked with bees, but would love to learn.

Marketing Method

Marketing will be primarily through website, newsletters, social media as needed, farmers markets, and other local/community, in-person events and opportunities.

Farm business plan or farm resume

My business plan or farm resume is in progress

Farmland Needs

Infrastructure required

  • black outline electrical icon Electrical access
  • black outline house icon Farmer housing
  • Black outline of a water drop Water access

I will need housing on-site. I am open (and depending on the learning opportunities, possibly preferential) to shared land, but I am very independent and need a good deal of personal space.  The land and housing will need to accommodate myself and an indoor/outdoor cat who is an excellent hunter.

Outbuildings for produce storage, refrigeration, tool storage, working spaces, and possibly a barn for a small herd of goats or sheep would be very helpful.  I am somewhat flexible as far as this goes and could build these facilities as needed.  Some farm equipment would be helpful but I could also work on bringing in what I need.

Ideally, I would like to find a spot with some wooded acreage in addition to the open land.  Established perennial fruits—trees, berries, grapes—would be amazing. On-site water sources for irrigation. Access to a well would be swell for drinking water but I am open to other possibilities. I am interested in working with sloped or hilly terrain, if that is what you got!

Desired Tenure

Tenure options desired

  • For Lease
  • For Sale
  • Business Partnership
  • Farm Management
  • Cooperative Model
  • Other Tenure Agreement

I am open to possibilities as far as these arrangements.  It depends on the particular land/people/opportunity.  

Has this farmer received a pre-qualification from a lending institution?

No

Will this operation qualify an eligible landowner for an Agricultural Assessment?

Yes

Ag Updates

Leslie Hamilton, Triple H Farms, Geneseo, NY October 15 2018Photo essay for the American Farmland Trust and Great Lakes Protection Fund illustrating farms and landowners working together to conserve the land and resources.

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