Pasture Management, Regional Manager
at Handsome Brook Farms
Handsome Brook Farms is a pasture-raised egg provider, working with a network of producers to raise organic and Non-GMO eggs in accordance with American Humane Certified standards. We currently work with over 80 independent producers raising nearly 1-million layer hens. We have developed and strictly follow standards for Pasture Raised Eggs that ensure our hens forage freely outdoors with protective cover, and are able to nest and sleep safely indoors at night with plenty of room to roam, perch, and exhibit natural chicken behavior. The health and welfare of our hens, the quality of our eggs, and the stewardship of our land are our top priorities.
Handsome Brook Farms is one of the fastest growing food businesses in the country and is primed to challenge the status quo of the egg category. We have launched sales nationally and continue to target aggressive growth in the natural, grocery, mass and club channels.
The Regional Manager will play a pivotal role in leading Handsome Brook’s on-farm sustainability initiatives across our central region; farms located in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio. This will include two specific deliverables for each farm: a Water Quality and Nutrient Management Plan, and Pasture Management Plan. While the framework for the former is generally provided by the state, in instances where that is not the case, the Regional Manager will need to develop a template with which to create a plan for the farmer. Whereas the Water Quality and Nutrient Management Plan will span across the entire farm operation, the Pasture Management Plan will focus more specifically on the interaction between the land and chickens.
The goal being – to define implementable practices that create a symbiotic relationship between the two. In all instances it will be up to the Regional Manager to determine and develop the components of a Pasture Management Plan. Though distinctly different outputs, we believe the two will be heavily interconnected.
Water Quality and Nutrient Management Planning:
- Work individually with partner farmers in the region (KY-26, IN-8, OH-3, TN-2; 39 total farmers) to create and implement water quality and nutrient management plans. Kentucky is the first priority since a plan is legally required by the state, unlike the others where it is more of a recommendation.
- Connect and collaborate with governing bodies in each state (USDA, NRCS, and County Extension offices) to ensure management practices align with greater water quality priorities. For instance, phosphorus and nitrogen reduction goals.
- Understand resources and/or economic incentives in place to help farmers adopt best practices.
- Monitor implementation and hold farmers accountable for keeping internal records of their practices, particularly as they pertain to end of flock clean-out and manure application.
- Develop a region-wide protocol around soil testing, and train farmers accordingly.
- Determine the frequency in which manure testing should be conducted at a given farm. For instance, if there is little variation in nutrient composition from flock to flock – testing can be done every 3rd flock, unless there is an increase or decrease in bird count.
- If significant drainage or run-off issues are identified around a given barn, work with the farmer to find cost-effective solutions for remediation.
Pasture Management Planning:
- Conduct field visits with each partner farmer to observe their flock’s patterns while exiting the barn and what they are drawn to in the pasture. Converse with the farmer about your interpretations compared to their own and determine whether there are “interventions” that could be made to encourage more extensive use of the available pasture.
- Aggregate notes from field visits to identify behavior trends, and whether those trends are contingent on flock age, breed, time of day, time of year, pasture composition, location of water source(s), etc.
- Develop preliminary plans with each farmer to incorporate rotational grazing into their pasture management practices.
- Identify both palatable forage species and hearty native grasses that can be easily established and maintained in a given pasture. Recommend planting times and quantities.
- Utilize existing assessment tools in the Regenerative Agriculture space. This includes, but is not limited to, evaluating Handsome Brook’s performance and scoring potential under General Mills’ Regenerative Agriculture Self-Assessment for Crop and Livestock Systems and Savoy Institute’s Ecological Outcome Verification framework.
- Stay attune to the greater narrative around the role of animal agriculture in building regenerative production models.
- An academic background in Agricultural Economics, Environmental Science, or Agronomy is preferred
- Experience with taking soil samples and planting trees/shrubs
- Ability to be in the field, but also research and work from home
- Experience working with small farms
- Project management experience/ability to juggle multiple projects at once
- Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with a range of farmer types, including Amish and Mennonite
- A valid driver’s license and ability to travel to multiple states in the region
- Comfortability working in a dynamic organization that is building infrastructure as they go
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Excellent data management and information organization skills
- Comfortability with technology; including using Dropbox and Google Docs
- A “hands-on” approach and commitment to task completion
- Both a vision for improvement and the ability to execute and dig into the details
- A team player with a collaborative approach to work
- Ability to effectively manage time. There are many moving parts to this position and little supervision, so self-discipline is a must
- A high degree of initiative