The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Advisor Spotlight:
One day, when HVADC Incubator Without Walls (IWW) business consultant Gregory Mruk was eight years old playing in the front yard of his grandparents’ house, he watched in amazement as a loose cow went running down the road with a couple of farmers chasing close behind. From that moment on he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up.
As Mruk chased his agricultural dream of starting his own farm, along the way, he gathered valuable experience in business, banking and education, all of which has made him an extremely valuable and appreciated advisor for HVADC IWW and Farm and Food Funding Accelerator (FFFA) program participants.
“With his first hand knowledge of finance and farming, Greg has been a gift to the Incubator Without Walls program. He understands everything our clients are going through because he’s going through it too.” Said Todd Erling, HVADC Executive Director. “He is a peer who excels at tailoring vital business plans to the personality of the farmers he works with, setting them up for lasting success.”
Mruk received a B.S. in Agricultural Economics with a minor in Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts Amhurst, as well as a Masters Degree in Administration from Saint Michael’s College. He worked for the USDA/FSA as a County Supervisor, and then as a farm loan officer at Peoples Trust Company in Vermont. While there he had a small home farm. In 2008 he tired of banking and began farming full time, selling at markets and through a CSA, all the while continuing to consult other farm businesses. In 2012, Greg and his wife moved to California where Mruk took a position as the farm manager for Los Angeles Pierce Collage’s 220-acre farm.
At Pierce he also taught and found he had both an affinity and talent for it. “For the first time I was around young people who were as passionate about farming as me,” he said.
In 2017, missing the east coast and seasonality, Mruk moved back to Millbrook in Dutchess County, where he continues to build his consulting business and his small multi-enterprise farm, which currently includes maple sugaring, pasture poultry, a small heritage apple orchard, garlic/onion/shallot production and log-grown mushrooms. He is also employed as a consultant for NY FarmNet program and Cornell’s Small Farm Ready Project, assisting farmers with a wide range of needs and services related to successful farm business operations.
“It’s something I’m passionate about,” Mruk said of advising his fellow farmers. “Something I learned a long time ago is that farmers help each other out. I’m okay at a lot of things but there are things I need help with. What I’m really good at is business and finance. That’s how I can help.”
“I think being a farmer myself lends credibility,” he continued. “I can relate to a lot of what my clients are going through and connect with them on a farmer to farmer basis.”
Mruk says paperwork is the most important part of running a business but also the least enjoyable. “Most farmers are okay with making a mistake in the field, but are afraid of their own books,” he said. “I try to build their confidence and explain to them that they are not alone. I’m trying to take consulting and marry it with education. I’m not saying do A, B, C, D, and you’ll be alright. I teach why you do these things.”
Mruk aims to craft solutions that work with an individual farmer’s personality and the way they look at the world. He sees that there’s a great sense of independence in farmers but that it’s also important for them to know when to seek assistance.
“I really enjoy working with HVADC. It’s invigorating. There’s so much passion for agriculture and getting farmers to the next level. It’s an exciting place to be. I truly believe the Hudson Valley is on the doorstep of a golden age of agriculture.”