Jeff Arnold Joins the Farm Hub as Production Manager

The Hudson Valley Farm Hub is pleased to announce that Jeff Arnold has joined the Farm Hub as the Production Manager.  A New York native, Arnold comes to the Farm Hub with experience as a vegetable farmer for Thanksgiving Farm in Harris and as a field manager for Hearty Roots Community Farm in Germantown. Arnold will lead the day-to-day operational activities of our vegetable and field crops.

Q&A With Jeff Arnold

Tell us about your background in farming and how you got involved in the profession.

I’ve had my hands happily in the dirt for almost 10 years now. My first farm job was when I was a student at Colorado State University, where I was studying horticulture and organic agriculture. I was a field worker and data collector at the CSU Horticulture Research Farm, where we had a small CSA and did some variety trials. My professor and mentor, Dr. Frank Stonaker, taught me the art and science of carefully coaxing plants from the soil, troubleshooting mechanical problems on half-century old tractors, and the value of working outside and breaking a sweat each day, all while acting as a steward of the land and the community. I was enthralled.

After that, I was pulled back to my home state of New York, where I continued learning the tools of the trade from some top-notch farmers at Hearty Roots Farm in Columbia Country and Thanksgiving Farm in the Catskills. And now, attracted to the mission and mindset of the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, I am thrilled to be taking on the production manager position.

What does a production manager do on a farm?

The production manager’s main responsibility is to make sure field operations are occurring on time, efficiently, and in accordance with the values and vision of the farm. There are many moving parts (figuratively and literally) on a diversified organic crop farm—from the crop plan to the greenhouse to the field to the packing shed and everything in between—and the production manager makes sure those parts are moving in sync with one another. Field planning, fertility management, tractor maintenance, record keeping, planting, weed management, pest/disease scouting, harvest and post-harvest handling, and maintaining a positive and dignified work environment are all in the realm of the production manager.

What are some production management responsibilities that the average person might not expect?

One of my favorite parts about being a vegetable farmer—and something people probably would never guess—is how much taste testing we get to do. A vegetable farmer is constantly sampling produce from the field to check ripeness and to get to know the varieties he or she is growing. On any given day in late July, I might be eating 20 different vegetables in the field.

How do you hope to contribute to the broader mission of the Farm Hub?

The reason I was initially drawn to the Farm Hub was its mission. Farming is incredibly hard work, and many farmers struggle with being able to meet production goals while still having the time and energy to work on social, environmental, and educational issues that they want to have an impact on as well. The Farm Hub offers the unique ability to focus in on all of these individual challenges at the same time. What I hope to offer is a bridge between the world of fast-paced production farming and the need to address many of the social, environmental, and educational issues facing farmers today.

What’s one of your favorite aspects of the Hudson Valley?

I really love the community of people here in the Hudson Valley. Everyone is really kind here. I want my kids to grow up in a community that is trying to make the whole world a better place to live, and we really feel like that we have found it here in the Hudson Valley.

We heard you like to homebrew.  

Since having kids (they are 3 and 1), I honestly haven’t had the time to embark on any home brewing projects, but I think that the malting and brewing process, and fermentation in general, is a wonderful example of the complexity of the food that farmers grow and how different ingredients can interact in remarkable ways to produce really surprising and wonderful flavor and nutritional profiles. And, this happens all by using completely natural processes. It really adds to my appreciation of the crops we grow.