As Carl and Helen approached retirement age with no children to take over the farm, they made creative plans to keep Woodleaf Farm alive. Our second two speakers are the farmers who Carl and Helen selected, after an intensive search, to buy Woodleaf Farms: Danny Lazzarini and Andrew Seidman. Danny and Andrew have more than thirty years’ farming experience between them, having worked together at Happy Boy Farms. They also have years of experience selling at farmers’ markets, and were ready for the next step. When Carl and Helen decided they had found their successors to keep Woodleaf Farm alive, they offered some financing options to make the transition as smooth as feasible as possible and provided huge help with equipment rentals and opportunities to delay payments.
To complete the transition, Carl mentored the new farm owners with monthly visits and other help under a formal consulting agreement. Danny and Andrew, now as “The Peach Jamboree,” plan to preserve Woodleaf’s educational mission by bringing the public onto their land.
However, plans may be set back a little bit. We are sad to report that Danny and Drew lost their home and much of their farm in the destructive Wall Fire near Oroville. Danny and Drew are entering their second season as the new owners of this pioneering organic farm, and they need our help. We encourage you to support them after this devastating loss. Friends have started a Gofundme as a first step towards recovery.
In addition to having worked at Happy Boy Farms together for 14 years, Danny and Andrew come from food-loving families with backgrounds in agriculture. But for the first time in each of their family’s histories, Danny and Andrew are pursuing farm work on their own terms. “There was no pride in farming when it was what our families had to do,” notes Andrew. “And here we are today, wanting to do it. And I can’t think of a more important, noble thing to do.”
Still, learning the nuances of Woodleaf has been a humbling experience for the seasoned farmers. They shadowed Carl at the beginning of the transition and contact him regularly under a formal consulting agreement for the first year, which also includes monthly visits to the farm. “We don’t know this place as intimately as Carl does. And having two thousand new trees to take care of is like having two thousand children,” jokes Andrew.
As with any craft, each farmer brings his or her own flair to the work, but through the transition, the couple is grateful to have mentors by their side. “This is an amazing opportunity to learn from an expert grower who is widely known and respected,” says Andrew, “and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to soak up every bit of knowledge.”
Carl is glad to see that the biological systems he’s worked to build over the past 36 years will be maintained under a similar philosophy. “We picked Danny and Drew because there was a good connection there,” says Carl. “They had a lot of previous experience, and they are committed to doing it the way we have.”
Danny and Andrew’s story from https://cuesa.org/article/new-kids-field-farm-succession-woodleaf-farm