Farmer Profile for SUSAN MITCHELL

Please describe your past and/or present farming experience

I began farming in New York's Hudson Valley as an apprentice on a diversified vegetable farm, after which I moved to CT to work as the assistant manager on a large vegetable farm with 25 acres in cultivation and an on-farm CSA membership of 650 people. We also raised a flock of 200 hens for egg production, although the vegetables were the priority. I gained a tremendous amount of experience there and took that to go manage a 3 acre diversified farm in coastal CT for a couple years that included year-round prodution in two hoophouses plus egg, chicken, and turkey production, all processed on-farm. After this point in time I was anxious to start my own farm business. I began Cloverleigh Farm in 2014 on rented land and have been forced to move my farm three times in five years due to non-secure land tenure and extremely poor quality soil. Currently I farm on a portion of an old dairy farm and sell vegetables primarily through a CSA with pickup both at the farm and at a local brewery 30 minutes away. I also sell to a few restaurants and the local food co-op. I farm just 2 acres because that is all I have access to and am looking to expand my production acreage into 10-20 acres so that I can grow more food, focus on soil fertility, manage the land to include times of fallow, and build the infrastructure I need to grow my business and invest in perennial crops. I would like to include small cereal grain production, if the land allows and return to also raising animals on the farm. I am looking to purchase a farm property. My interest in returning to Vermont stems from a short time I spent living and working at Keewaydin (on Lake Dunmore), before I started farming. I have come to really appreciate the rich agricultural economy in Vermont and the opportunities for selling locally-grown products. I am a member of the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association.

Are you currently farming?

Yes

Are you interested in connecting with other farmers to explore collocation or collaborative farm ideas?

No

Counties being considered

Addison
Bennington
Orange
Rutland
Washington
Windham
Windsor

What is the primary agricultural enterprise you are considering?

Vegetables

What other enterprises are you considering?

Berries
Flowers
Grains
Herbs
Maple Sugaring
Poultry

Total Acres Desired

50.0

Tillable Acres

20.0

Forested Acres

20.0

Acres in Pasture

10.0

Organic

Yes

Farm Structures Needed

Barn(s)

Farmhouse Needed

Yes

Equipment Needed

I have all of my own equipment.

Which of the following arrangements are you considering?

Lease with Option to Buy
Standard Sale

Have you been qualified by a lending institution? (if applicable)

No

Are you interested in conserved farms?

Yes

Do you have a business plan? Please write an informative description of your vision & goals for your farming future.

I do have a business plan and it could use updating now that I have been running my own business for several years. I would like to become the next steward of a traditional New England farm so that I can continue the legacy of agriculture. I believe that providing high quality locally-grown food is a service that can help bring people and community together. As our climate continues to change, I think it is important that we focus on growing food in our region rather than importing it from distant states or countries. My goals are to provide fresh vegetables and herbs to area residents either through a CSA model or regional distribution channels. Growing on land that is (or can become) certified organic is important to me because I want state the federal goverment to realize that organic is not just a fad but a truly important part of the food system and the preservation and improvement of working lands.

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