Farmer Profile for Ashley Ross

Experience

Please describe your past and/or present farming experience:

I am an experienced market gardener and love to grow heritage fruits and vegetables as well as a business consultant who understands marketing and running management. I have worked with farmers and ranchers for many years as a consultant on conservation, water, marketing, value-added products and business management. I have run small greenhouses where we grew orchids for sale and show. I have managed greenhouses that had multiple climates and watering needs that ranged from desert plants to tropicals. I have also managed a retail focused greenhouse where we had everything from trees, vegis and flowers. I am interested in getting out from behind a desk and going back to my true love of growing things. I want to make an honest living where I am proud to say what I do. It’s important for me to try to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I want to make a positive difference in my community and be a good role model for other young women who may have an interest in sustainable farming. I will support the local economy as much as I can, realizing that this effort, in itself, helps sustain the community. I believe in putting the land in permanent grass pastures to let the farm animals harvest their own feed and to stop erosion. This can also improve animal health as well as the water and mineral cycles. If I was to raise farm animals, I believe in segmenting pastures and moving the animals routinely through the pastures so the pressure in any given area is reduced. I believe in having a muti-species approach that incorporates the best of what animals offer that will support not just the income diversity of the farm but also the health of the pasture by having successive herds like goats, haired sheep then dexter cows followed by pastured turkeys and chickens. Wood lands should be maintained by silvo-cultured pigs to increase the quality of woods, decrease shrubbery and weeds as well as providing healthy, well muscled, low fat pigs for the market. What do I bring to the farming business? I have lived in cities and I have lived in remote locations in the US and overseas. I have lived on-grid and off-grid with varying levels of self-sufficiency. I have worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time as needed to make ends meet and always keep my eye on the next target without being dragged down into despair. I have made due with what we had and invented or saved for what we needed. I have worked hard until I am finally in a place where I can make a shift from a full time office job to embrace my love of farming and ranching full time. I have run my own consulting business, worked as a state employee, managed greenhouses, worked with farmers and ranchers on conservation issues as well as better business practices. I have taught business lessons on marketing, accounting, business creation, funding sources, and much more. I have taught students of all ages ESL, SAT and ACT topics like English, Math and History. I understand technology, customer support, copy writing, social media, grants, public employment, non-profits, biology and wildlife. I have worked with a variety of animals both domestic and wild. I grew up with horses and my world expanded into llamas, chickens, turkeys, goats, sheet, and pigs. I have butchered and milked my own animals and helped teach others.

Are you currently farming?:

No

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

Yes

Enterprises

What is the primary agricultural enterprise you are considering?:

Vegetables

What other enterprises are you considering?:

Apple/Fruit
Beef
Berries
Dairy (cows)
Flowers
Goats
Greenhouse
Herbs
Livestock
Mushrooms
Pasture
Poultry
Row Crops
Sheep

The Land

Total Acres Desired:

20.0

Organic:

Yes

Infrastructure

Farm Structures Needed:

Barn(s)
Greenhouses
Other Housing

Farmhouse Needed:

Yes

Equipment Needed:

While we could supply tractors and various equipment, it would be great to have equipment readily available for daily and seasonal needs.

Tenure Arrangement

Tenure Arrangement Considered:

Farm Manager
Lease with Option to Buy
Long-Term Lease
Owner-Financed Sale
Partnership
Work to Own (Gradual Transfer of Responsibility & Farm Assets)

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

Yes

Business Plan/Goals

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

I have started a deeper analysis than this basic business plan, but a lot of it is situational based on location and opportunities in the area. Covid-19 has created a market of online buyers who order online and want it delivered to their door. This is beneficial for cooperatives like online ‘farm’ stores. Currently we do not own any land and are actively seeking a 50 acre plus property with a mix of pasture and wood lands. A farm with some existing infrastructure would be preferable with fencing, water sources, a high tunnel or greenhouse and a barn for bad weather cover. I believe in layering income streams and understand that some farming ventures require long term planning and others have short term gains. For instance, I love mycology and have had a long term love affair growing and experimenting with exotic mushrooms like Lions Mane. These short-term high value crops produced in protected areas, would supply a ready revenue source from fresh and dried produce. I also love growing different species of fresh ginger which take 6-9 months to produce and have a variety of excellent market options. I have grown herbs and edible flowers and would like to pursue that as another source of revenue that may take 6-12 months before realizing a steady income that is far more seasonal. In between, I am a huge fan of heritage fruits, vegetables and animals. I love bringing new heritage varieties to new audiences through demonstrations, cooking and educational events at schools and farmers markets. Long term, I would love to cultivate wasabi which can take up to 6 years before they are ready to sell, but what an excellent high value product. I have layered a variety of scenarios into my business plan that can fit livestock, market gardens, pastured poultry and more - I am ultimately flexible in my interests and abilities.