- Hudson Valley
- Dutchess County
- Putnam County
- Westchester County
- 5 or fewer
Beginning farmer: 10 years or less of experience managing a farm business
Currently farming full-time
Primary reason for farming
Farm will generate the majority of my income
Farming status, plans, and practices
I run a livestock farm in ridgefield that has been open to the public through educational programs since 2017. We primarily raise sheep but also has increased our production of meat birds and turkeys in recent years and would like to add pork in the near future. I have been grazing on town conservation land for the last 7 years and do have 3 more years on my current contract. However, the farm has reached the point where we need to scale up our livestock production to be financially sustainable.
I have been the recipient of 3 USDA-NRCS grants for environmentally-focused farming practices and my current grant is a CSP grant which has rather stringent requirements of good farming practices. We currently adaptively graze our sheep and move them on average once per day, focusing on improving soil health and increasing plant and microbial biodiversity.
I am currently under contract to purchase a property in Ridgefield to become a country store, most likely in 2024. By that point we would need to have a steady supply to be able to have inventory for that store. Currently we sell at farmer's markets and at our farm store.
We raise sheep for fine wool products (and yarns), meat and breeding stock. We raise Romneys, Polled Dorsets and Crossbred sheep.
Farm Experience & Education
- Farm owner
I have owned and farmed this farm for the last seven years. I now have 6 part-time employees that help with various parts of either coordinating our camps and customer communication to managing the grazing to working at farmer's markets or our farm store. I have a Batchelors in Biochemistry from Imperial College of Science in London and a PhD in Neuropharmacology from Cambridge University. While I didn't have a direct agricultural education entering in to this venture, my training has given me the skills to continually experiment with grazing approaches, livestock management techniques and more. Farming is truly the ultimate experiment, continually adapting based on what is observed at your site with your particular genetic pool of animals.
Currently I am also working with a marketing coach year round as well as a pair of SCORE advisors to keep the business moving in the right direction.
Farming Plans and Practices
Farming method or practice
In addition to the above we raise turkeys. I have described our sheep operation above. Our meat birds are active foragers (like Freedom Rangers) that we keep in mobile chicken tractors and move daily for fresh forage. Currently due to the restrictions of my leased land I am not allowed to have my chickens on the land where the sheep graze. This is unfortunate as the two species would work nicely into a grazing rotation. I am looking to be able to have them on the same land (not necessarily at the same time but in a rotation).
I have built the farm brand over the last 7 years and continue to increase awareness through farmer's markets, large fiber festivals (I sell at Maryland Sheep & Wool Fest, Vermont Fiber Festival and NJ fiber festival and we show our sheep at the NY and Maryland Sheep and Wool Festivals). Our summer camps are extremelly popular, educating children about livestock and nature and this also spreads the word about our farm. I have a continually expanding mailing list.
Farm business plan or farm resume
I would need water and electric and would like to be able to install a hoophouse for our turkeys if no suitable structure exists.
I am looking to lease or purchase property.