About

michaelFarm Smart, not Hard….

 

I’m a farmer, presenter, and blogger who lives to help farmers apply business principles and best practices to farming and agriculture. I have managed a large certified organic farm, presented at farm and agricultural conferences, and consulted with farmers around the country.

 

Recent appearances and notable work.

 

Some recent speaking engagements include New England Vegetable and Fruit Growers Conference, NOFA-MASS, NOFA-Maine, and internationally through the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network. I have also done Webinars locally for high school ag classes and Cornell Extension as well as nationally for the NRCS.

 

Our farm has had the privilege of hosting multiple NOFA-VT and NOFA-NY farm tours. We have also worked closely with Johnny’s seeds and Cornell on various vegetable trials. One of our most recent trials was our 2014-2015 overwintered spinach trial where we worked with 9 different varieties evaluating for 8 different characteristics.

 

Currently, I consult and mentor farmers across North America, helping them build resilient, profitable businesses.  I normally work with smaller farms, 1-10 acres, but have also worked with some very large farms (200+ acres) with equipment setup and deployment.

 

My Story…

 

I started playing in the dirt when I was still in diapers. That grew to helping my Dad garden when I was 6, and start my own farming business when I was 15. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, starting 2 businesses by the time I was 12. I always have about a dozen “ideas” floating around my brain at any one time.

 

My Brother and I started Kilpatrick Family Farm in 2005. It grew to managing over 500 acres, with 15 acres in field vegetable production rotated on 50 tillable acres, 100 acres of pasture where we raised pastured eggs, broilers, and turkeys, and 350 acres of woodlot. We sold our produce to a year-round, four season 250 member CSA, 4 weekly farmers markets, and various restaurants, wholesale, coops and institutional outlets. Our farm focused on pushing the boundaries in winter production and season extension, and creating a highly profitable business model.

 

I have been very lucky to have learned from some of the greats in agriculture. I have interned for Paul and Sandy Arnold at Pleasant Valley Farm, and Joel Salatin at Polyface, Inc. in Virginia. I’ve had the privilege over the years to rub shoulders and collaborate with Eliot Coleman, Jack Algiere, Brett Grohsgal, Pete Johnson, Adam Lemieux and other greats in the sustainable farming movement.

 

After a decade of active farming in upstate NY, my wife and I are relocating to Southwest Ohio to pursue a host of projects. Our hope is to start a new farm, work on several ag related projects and spend time with our daughter, Charlotte.

 

How can I add value to you?

 

The focus of this blog and my passion falls into “3 buckets” or categories:

 

Helping small farms become sustainable and effective businesses

Running a large, multi-faceted organic farm causes you to get a business education in a hurry.  From calculating employee effectiveness and setting up production systems, to figuring our cost of production and return on investment, to setting up green financing with our customers, we’ve done it all. My passion is to help farmers achieve their dreams of a low-stress and profitable business, where they run the business, not the business running them. Whether it’s a new venture, or an existing operation which needs a new vision or some tweaking, I’ve had experience working with all types.

Four season farming and season extension

We started winter farming in 2004, before it was cool (pardon the pun). Working off the limited information that Eliot Coleman, Steve Moore, and Seth Jacobs had published, we turned it into an integral part of our farm. Our innovation in this field extends to overwintering spinach, onions, lettuce, kale and other crops outside, to year round, heated and unheated production of a full line of greens including lettuce, spinach, arugula, and more. Our expertise also extends to growing, harvesting and storing, including storage system optimization of root and other storage crops.

Slow Tools for small farms

Farms and food production are changing. The number of micro and small farms are growing, but the tools for these are not keeping up. I am part of a group called Slow Tools that innovates solutions for all aspects of the small farm. Our vision is making small farms more successful in everything from high tunnel design to micro-scale tine weeders. Our group has helped several businesses, include Johnnys Selected Seeds, bring new products to market for market farmers.