Keller Center - Educating Leaders for a Technology-Driven Society

From Finance to Farming: One Couple's Journey from Wall Street to Sustainable Agriculture

From Finance to Farming: One Couple's Journey from Wall Street to Sustainable Agriculture

Double BrookDate: Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time: 4:30 p.m.

Location: Carl A. Fields Center Room 104 
(campus map)

Other: Reception to follow

 

The Keller Center is pleased to welcome Robin and Jon McConaughy, former investment bankers and current owners of Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, NJ, to the Princeton campus on March 29, 2012. The McConaughys will share insights about responsible, thoughtful approaches to local agriculture and food production. This event, which will be followed by a light reception, is co-sponsored by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, Community Based Learning Initiative (CBLI), the Office of Sustainability, and the Princeton Environmental Institute.

About the McConaughys
The McConaughys originally started Double Brook in 2004 to raise beef, chicken, and sheep for their own consumption, but they also started the farm to get themselves and their children connecting with the land. As they began to build the farm, more and more friends and acquaintances became interested in purchasing the meat and eggs they would be producing, thus, they decided to scale up a bit. Through conversations with friends, stories in the media on conventional food, and people's desire to know where their food comes from, the demand for local, all-natural, pasture-raised products has defined the direction of the McConaughy's farm. Their research of local farming revealed a trend: farmers all seemed to share the same problem; marketing and distribution. The more time spent on marketing and distribution, the more the quality of the product suffered. Less focus resulted in poor sales.

Then McConaughy's started talking to chefs, restaurants and retailers, who had the opposite problem; they could not get quality and consistency. It was becoming clear if the farm was to be more than a hobby, they needed a different model. If the mission is to get the best tasting local food to the community at prices that make sense, they had to look at ways to cut out middlemen while still fulfilling the goal of humane animal treatment.

To this end, the McConaughy's goal is to create a completely vertical model; farm, slaughter capabilities, retail market, and restaurant with nearly everything to be produced from that single farm. Products would include a variety of meats cut by a proper butcher, charcuterie items, cheeses, a bakery and fresh seasonal produce, among other farm offerings.  What does not get sold in the market or the restaurant will return to the farm as feed or fertilizer. The ultimate goal is a farm that uses energy from the sun or the earth, has zero outside inputs, no external animal feed, no external fertilizers and a very limited carbon footprint. Currently, the McConaughys are raising cattle, sheep, pigs, turkeys and chickens for both meat and eggs. While it may seem like a lot to pull off, their hope is to simplify how good food gets from their farm to your table.