Ep 100. Paul and Sandy Arnold on 30+ Years of Successful Organic Farming
Have you had experienced, competent, professional mentors throughout your farming journey? If not, it could make all the difference in how you run your farm!
Joining me today on this special 100th episode for the Thriving Farmer Podcast, are two of my long time personal mentors, Paul and Sandy Arnold. They are the owners and founders of
Pleasant Valley Farm. Pleasant Valley is a small, family run farm. For over 30 years they have provided their community with the freshest, highest quality and tastiest vegetables, herbs and fruits grown with organic methods. They sell over 90% of their produce directly at local farmers markets and the rest to local outlets and renowned farm-to-table restaurants. Since 2007 they have supplied a full array of vegetables and herbs year-round using unheated, large high tunnels and carefully controlled root storage. They run everything like a business by focusing on efficiency, lean principles, customer driven marketing practices, constant improvements, crop research, and use of cutting edge technology. Tune in today for this very special episode to hear me speak with my mentors about all things farming!
In This Episode:
What got Paul and Sandy into farming 2:14
How important it is for them to farm as a team 6:52
About their roles on the farm 7:53
How they managed to run their operation with lean labor for so long 11:57
How Paul and Sandy keep their team active 15:24
About the management principles at Pleasant Valley Farm 19:01
How Sandy and Paul leveraged credit cards 21:46
How Sandy and Paul manage their market sheet 27:02
How their irrigation system is set up 32:04
What their marketing policy is 36:00
About the education side of Pleasant Valley Farm 43:21
What kind of equipment they utilize on Pleasant Valley farm 49:33
Paul and Sandy’s best piece of advice for a new farmer 1.00.42
About the Guest
After growing up in suburbia, Paul worked at a nursery/greenhouse operation in his early 20’s. At the age of 27, he traveled across the United States, became enamored with farming as he saw the many acres of fields being plowed. After visiting a farmer’s market in Michigan with a friend, he knew he wanted to be a farmer and sell at farmers’ markets. Paul came home, worked for a summer with a local farmer, then started farming on an acre in his parents’ back yard in South Glens Falls, NY in 1987. Realizing that this was his real passion in life, Paul purchased 60 acres of land in Argyle in 1988. The 60 acres of land, which overlooked a scenic valley and was just cornfields at the time, became Pleasant Valley Farm.
Sandy Olmsted grew up in many parts of the country, mostly in Maine and New York, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Botany. Sandy has always had a passion for traveling, and has been in every U.S. state as well as more than 20 countries around the world. She worked in management at garden centers and development businesses prior to marrying Paul in 1991 in Argyle, NY.
While Sandy and Paul established Pleasant Valley Farm, they lived in a pop-up camper for two summers before building their house on their land. The farm buildings began as historic barns with slate roofs which they took down at a nearby farm and put back up at Pleasant Valley Farm. All infrastructure, including electricity, water, sewer, propane, and other farm buildings came over time, with the work done by Paul, Sandy and Paul’s Dad, Bion.
In 1992, Robert was born in November, and three years later, on Christmas Day in 1995, Kim was born. For many years, Sandy and Paul juggled being full-time farmers, parents, and they home-schooled their children until both children went off to college. Kim and Robert from a very early age, worked many hours each week, helping to make Pleasant Valley Farm a very successful family farm, with Paul’s parents being key partners as well since they lived 20 minutes away.
Since 1992, Pleasant Valley Farm has given the Arnold’s their sole source of income through selling at local farmers’ markets and a few wholesale accounts (restaurants, caterers, and stores). In 2006, they began winter production in high tunnels, which has had a huge impact in the northeast for marketing year-round and increasing profits for farmers.
Resources and mentions
Website – http://pvfproduce.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pvfproduce
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/pvfproduce/
And if you want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Facebook Group to connect with us and other farmers looking to grow their business!
We also have six free eguides to help you be more effective on your farm (Winter Growing, Pastured Poultry, Washing Shed Efficiency, Profitable Farmers Toolkit, what to look for in a farm property, etc), which you can download here.