Centurion Farm, LLC
Jeffrey and Nina Saeli founded Centurion Farm, LLC in 2017. The farm comprises a 58-acre mix of pastures, hardwood forests, riparian forests, and wetlands. Currently farm operations are focused on the establishment of a small scale market garden.
Jeffrey grew up on a farm in western NY, and began learning how to cook and preserve food at a young age. He encouraged Nina to study to learn how to grow vegetables and herbs while she was recovering from two spine surgeries due to military service. Nina found gardening physically and mentally therapeutic and personally rewarding. Jeffrey enjoyed having an abundance of herbs and food readily available when it came time to prepare meals. The more Jeffrey encouraged Nina to grow food, the more she immersed herself in the study of soil, plants, and organisms. Today Jeffrey and Nina work together to develop the ecosystems necessary to grow healthy plants and nutritious foods, while providing appropriate resources for those organisms that support the process.
Using established and emerging permaculture techniques, Jeffrey and Nina plan to make efficient and sustainable use of the land, forests, and water; will preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Farm for current and future generations and the community; and will willingly share resources with native wildlife and plant species. They aspire to someday serve as an example operation for those who of necessity are returning to locally scaled agricultural practices; driven to such need by the paired challenges of peak oil and climate change.
Location: 287 Creek Rd, Locke, NY 13092
Top 3 Products in Year 2: Garlic, Onions, Tomatoes
How has the Profit Team Program helped your farm? The Profit Team has provided access to persons able to answer questions we had regarding marketing opportunities and handling produce during and after harvest. They also provided a complimentary trial of Cabbige.com, a web-based small farms database that helps farmers track production, sales and pricing. The site authors also provide local and regional pricing information to help farmers set prices. Finally, the Profit Team has provided a small grant for consulting services, which one of our owners is using to become better informed about a variety of topics.
When you envision your farm business five years from now, what differences do you see? In five years, we expect to be farming full time and hope to build a seasonal store on the property to sell our own produce, herbs, and hand crafted products, as well as other locally grown and produced items. We plan to expand operations to comprise between two and six acres of produce fields; a one-acre orchard with fruit trees and red and black raspberries; the establishment of larger scaled perennial culinary and medicinal herb beds; and sections reserved for cut flowers. Additionally we hope to eventually incorporate limited livestock (chickens, and perhaps a head or two of beef).
If you weren’t a farmer, what would your dream job be? We are both retired military; farming has been our dream job. If we were not planning to be farmers, we would prefer to be consultants; Nina in the area of emergency preparedness/curriculum development, and Jeff in Information Systems Management.
What is your best piece of advice for an aspiring farmer? Start small and build your business based on dedicated research, sound analysis and informed decision-making. Be sure you have a taste for the labor involved in farming before making sizeable financial commitments. Attempt to remain debt free if possible, and rely on owner equity and farm proceeds for growth and expansion. If you do need to rely on financing, make sure your business will cash flow using realistic assumptions about costs and revenue. Conduct a risk assessment, and have a plan to mitigate identified risks. Understand that risk means you might lose money, and you might fail. Spend a year or two learning what will grow on your farm; understand that soil quality, airflow patterns, daylight patterns, water sources and your techniques all matter – not every location is suited for every crop. Finally, get involved in your community; it does take a village… be part of that village.