Sandy Lejeune

Farming Status and Plans

Farming status:

Full time

Description of farming status, plans, and practices:

I have been farming vegetables, small livestock and tree fruit organically for 21 years. For 7 1/2 years I managed marketing and daily farm operations at Fairview Gardens, a nationally-recognized urban farm and education center. Since 2005 I have managed and farmed a 78-acre ranch/estate where I grow a wide variety of tree fruit and melons, watermelons, garlic, dried beans and cut flowers, all grown chemical-free. My wife and I are searching for a farm in the Hudson Valley where our children, who live in New York City and are interested in organic farming, can join us now and succeed us in the future. Our vision for the farm includes: (1) Establishing a conservation easement to preserve the farm’s integrity and agricultural future (2) A commitment to farm the land free of chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, and harmful pesticides/herbicides (3) A mix of tillable acres, pasture and woods to maximize farm health/fertility and income diversity (4) A rural/semi-rural location within reasonable driving distance of local markets, restaurants, and other sales points (5) A commitment to participate in and support the local food economy in the Hudson Valley as a locally-owned, locally-operated farm (6) Developing a worker-owned cooperative farming business that offers employment and training to young farmers unable to afford their own land (7) Creating programming and infrastructure to connect art and agriculture in both rural and urban environments.

Description of marketing method:

Direct marketing (on-farm store, CSA and/or farmers' markets)

Does this farmer have a business plan?

Yes

Farm Characteristics

Preferred location:

Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Ulster, Westchester

Desired acreage:

1-5, 6-10, 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

Description of buildings required:

2-3 bedroom house.  Medium-sized barn.  Equipment shed/shop Run-in shed(s)

Description of farm equipment required:

Tractor with bucket and implements (mower, disc harrow, bed shaper, other).  Hand tools

Description of water access required:

Well(s) Pond(s).  A stream would be wonderful, but not required

Description of fencing required:

Deer fencing.  Portable electric livestock fencing

Crops and Livestock

Primary crops:

Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Ornamentals, Hay

Primary Livestock:

Cattle - Beef, Pigs, Poultry

Description of livestock/crops:

Row crop vegetables and flowers.  Orchard.  Berries.  Small livestock (poultry, pigs).  Devon beef cattle

Farmland Tenure

Tenure options desired:

For Sale

Description of tenure options desired:

Farm ownership

Additional Information

Experience & education:

Farm management, Farm employee, Farm internship/apprenticeship

Experience description:

Fairview Gardens, Goleta California (Mid-1995 – 2004) Field Work • Propagation (seeding, fertilizing, and irrigating vegetable transplant plugs) • Direct-seeding/transplanting crops • Irrigation (installing, operating and maintaining drip irrigation, low-flow sprinklers, and mainline systems) • Cultivation (hand and machine work) • Harvesting and post-harvest handling of all field and tree fruit crops • Poultry and small livestock care Marketing • Farmers’ market lead staff person, four markets/week (1995-97) • Marketing Manager, Farm Operations Manager (1997-2004) Under my management the farm’s annual gross income more than doubled (from $375,000 to over $750,000) • I managed all aspects of direct and wholesale marketing of farm products (including four farmers’ markets per week, in the on-farm store, and a 100-member Community Supported Agriculture Program) • I attended and ran three farmers’ markets per week (in Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and San Francisco) • I successfully developed sales of farm products to high-end restaurants/hotels in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles • I managed and directly participated in all aspects of wholesale marketing of the farm’s avocado crop (harvesting, post-harvest handling, customer relations/sales, CA Avocado Commission inspections, loading trucks, etc) • I managed a staff of six – ten marketing employees (seasonally) • I helped select crops that boosted on- and off-farm sales income • Farm Manager and Marketing Manager (2002-2004) • I directed daily farm operations, managed all 24 marketing and field staff, oversaw assignment of daily work /scheduling, made regular crop and plant checks throughout the farm, placed seed orders, purchased inputs/amendments, met with organic certification inspectors, maintained documentation of farm’s organic program and certified producer program’s certificate, oversaw repairs to equipment, directed farm intern programming • In addition, I maintained all Marketing Manager duties listed above. Miradero, Santa Barbara, California (2005 – present) Ranch/Estate Manager • I am the hands-on manager of a 78-acre estate and mixed tree crop and row crop ranch • I successfully transitioned the orchards, grounds and gardens from chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides to safe, healthy organic production • I manage the orchards (avocados, lemons, limes, mandarin oranges, Valencia and navel oranges, grapefruit, persimmons, figs, peaches, and apples), fruit tree pruning, all irrigation systems, all landscaping/gardening, personnel, and maintain three residences • I operate a worm farm and make/apply worm compost tea • I produce row crops (melons, watermelons, garlic, beans and flowers)