Farmer Profile for John Ela

Co-Applicant / Spouse Name

Natasha Haverty

Please describe your past and/or present farming experience

Having apprenticed on my cousin's apple orchard in my home state of Wisconsin for five years, I'm ready to start my own farm. My dream is to grow a diversity of fruit at a small scale using cutting-edge regenerative and organic practices. I'm calling it Frugivore Farm. My wife is a public radio journalist from New England, and we'd like to find a nice peaceful home in Vermont in order to be closer to her family and give me an opportunity to farm. Our dream land? (ok, you asked for it): Gently rolling with views. Peaceful solitude but a feeling of connection to the people around us. A warm welcoming feeling that will entice our friends and family to visit us. Plenty of walks on the land and around it. Maybe a cool old barn.

Are you currently farming?

No

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

No

Counties being considered

Addison
Bennington
Caledonia
Chittenden
Grand Isle
Lamoille
Orange
Rutland
Washington
Windham
Windsor

What is the primary agricultural enterprise you are considering?

Apple/Fruit

What other enterprises are you considering?

Apple/Fruit
Berries
Woodlot

Total Acres Desired

20.0

Tillable Acres

10.0

Forested Acres

10.0

Organic

Yes

Farm Structures Needed

Storage

Farmhouse Needed

Yes

Which of the following arrangements are you considering?

Standard Sale

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

Yes

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. Vision 1. Grow food that is insanely delicious. 2. Use no chemicals at all. 3. Farm at the appropriate scale. 4. Form a coherent and balanced life. II. Business Description 1. Grow primarily fruits, in broad diversity [Primary: apples, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, mulberries. Maybe? (possible climate manipulation provided by tunnels / glass / brick walls): currants, gooseberries, cantaloupe, kiwis, peaches, grapes.] 2. While fruit trees are getting established, other crops are possible to fill the revenue gap, especially ones that can grow amicably alongside fruit. 3. Organic tree fruit in Vermont is largely untrod territory, I expect there to be a steep learning curve, and some seasons of failure along the way. A diversity of crops, as well as value-added products like jam and juice to take advantage of unsaleable fruit, will help to provide revenue as I learn. 4. Marketing plan: Direct sales at farmers' markets to foster direct customer relationships and minimize middlemen. Pick-your-own and on-farm sales are possible if the location is suitably accessible. The diversity of fruit allows a season-long presence at market and possible CSA possibilities once I'm up and running smoothly. 5. I'm interested in a variety of tangential ventures to diversify revenue, including a pizza farm, Airbnb, etc. I'll have to grow conscientiously so as not to spread myself too thin and lose focus on farming. 6. I understand organic fruit growing is a risky venture. I believe the risk is urgently justified, and in fact, is the thing most worth doing with this one precious life of mine. The plan is for a diversity of revenue streams to help weather the inevitable failures along the way. III. Horticultural Plan 1. The entire horticultural focus will be on the health of the ecosystem, soil, and plants. The goal will be to use no pesticides at all (even those organically approved). 2. I've been studying various methods of intensive ecological farming that show promise as applied to a small-scale fruit farm, including biodynamic, permaculture, and foliar micronutrient sprays promoted by John Kempf. I'll experiment with these and other methods to determine what works in my particular context.