Hi! My name is Ian Witzgall, a recent UCONN graduate (Ecology, Winter 2020) interested in beginning a multifaceted, sustainable farm operation with a particular focus on husbandry (Sheep, Angora Rabbits, Alpaca) for fiber production, and an interest in the production of hemp for fiber and medicinal use (being currently enrolled in UCONN Ag’s upcoming “Horticulture of Cannabis” course as a post graduate).
While I do not have direct farming experience in recent years, I have been a lifelong scientist with an increasing interest in sustainable farming practices and the their benefits to community and our environment. Furthermore, my partner Regan has been a lifelong fiber arts crafter and has been pursuing a degree in Fashion from Marist. It is the dream of myself, Regan, and our team (more information on them to come) to build a location with enterprises that can sustain a fully fledged community hub; an intersection point for food, culture, education, and recreation that services the community members as much as it does the region as a whole. With that said, we wish to grow organically and sustainably and are looking to start on a property that is large enough to ensure the health and wellbeing of our animals and the consistency and availability of our product materials, but not so large as to complicate the means to those ends (especially considering our lack of commercial farming experience).
Due to our relative lack of commercial farming experience, the team and I are in the process of securing a mentor to ensure our livestock plans are sound and that we are considering all necessary factors at all stages of maintenance and operation. With that said, it is our goal to paddock feed our animals (sheep and alpacas) throughout the available months with a focus on the increasing productivity year over year (including rotational grazing of paddocks with poultry). We expect an initial flock of ~4-8 sheep and ~3-5 alpacas that will most likely be paddocked separately. Alpaca rabbits will be housed in shaded outdoor hutch setups that can be moved into solid shelter (solid farm infrastructure/barn space) during the coldest months. We will likely look to lamb in the second season of 2022.
p.s We are also planning (in the R&D phase) to grow milkweed for fine fiber production (most likely .25-.50 acres) and hemp for bulk fiber. We plan to process all fibers ourselves (sold wholesale and direct to consumer) outside of hemp, which would be sold wholesale by biomass.
The members of my team bring vastly different expertises and specialty areas to our operation, which include (but are not limited to) botany, land management and ecological preservation, structure and home construction, electrical, floral and nursery sales and management, social media marketing, basic veterinary care exposure and experience, hydroponic growing experience (technical and scientific), robotics, research science (behavioral - medical research, microbiology - animal model), sustainable fiber production, hand spinning and knitting, fashion design, and business entrepreneurship.
There will be 2+ members of the operation on site at all times (myself and my partner Regan guaranteed). The resumes of all team members with cover letters can be provided at request.
For any and all inquiries, you can reach me at Ian.firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a text at (860) 692-2898.
All the best and good health,