The HVADC Cultivator
HVADC Client Spotlight: Pennings Farm
Pennings Farm in Warwick in Orange County, is a multi-generational operation that incorporates 100 acres of unspoiled farmland where various tree fruits, summer and fall vegetables are grown. Its farm market offers a farm-to-table café, pub, beer garden, hop yard, ice cream-stand and garden center. HVADC provided Pennings Farm with technical assistance as it undertook its most recent addition – a hard cider tap room and production facility, managed by the next generation of Pennings.
The Pennings have long roots in farming that extend into Europe. Jake Pennings began dairy and tulip farming in Holland with his 12 brothers and sisters. By age 18, he moved to the United States with his wife and their 10 children to start dairy farming. After his family sold the dairy farm in 1980, their son Jack Pennings bought 100 acres in Warwick, and shortly thereafter his brother Steve Pennings came onboard. The brothers opened Penning Orchard and a small roadside farm stand; farming 25 acres with apples, vegetables, pumpkins and cut flowers. The brothers have since doubled the amount of acreage upon which they farm, and moved the farm stand to its current location. The farm market is run by Steve and Jill Pennings, and the orchard is run by Jack Jr. and Monica Pennings.
Steve and Jill Pennings consulted with HVADC for advice in examining and evaluating various options for expanding their cider operation and how to incorporate their offspring into the operation’s expansion. They had numerous options, including the possibilities of purchasing the land to expand at the current location, expanding on other land that the family already owns, or purchasing neighboring property.
To attain project financing, financial analysis and the development of a business plan with financial projections were required. HVADC and the Pennings created the plans for the third generation of Pennings to separately run the cider business to avoid conflict with the farm market’s liquor license. HVADC identified that streamlining the cider-making process and bringing in it “in-house” was essential to bolster their economic viability.
“The Pennings are a great example of farm family that brought the next generation into the farm business through thoughtful examination of market opportunities, farm resources and skills of the younger generation,” said Mary Ann Johnson, Deputy Director of HVADC. “Working their way through the challenges of a new hard cider operation, a new enterprise on the farm and the business and financial planning needed, the Pennings have masterfully succeeded in this new phase of the business.”
The Pennings started in the cider business by contracting with Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery to produce the cider. The apples were picked but then delivered off-site for cider-pressing, then transported to Warwick Valley Winery and Distillery where it was it was poured into barrels for fermentation. After fermentation, the cider was then transported again back to Pennings Farm in kegs to be sold in the café. Creation of an on-site cidery meant that not only did the Pennings not have to transport their apples off their farm for processing, but that they could also have solo control and oversight over the entire processing itself. The in-house cidery paved the way for the Pennings to create their own product varieties and the branding and marketing of their own “Pennings Farms” value-added product.
“HVADC helped with lay out of the groundwork through a business plan in effort to make the new business sustainable and fit the blueprint of the direction in which Pennings Farm is heading,” said current farm owner, Steve Pennings. “The new business venture was headed by Jill to bring their children, Steve Jr. and Tori into the operation. Early evaluation of the operation is extremely optimistic since there is already expansion to stainless steel tanks to be more efficient in the hard cider production. The groundwork that HVADC helped to lay has created a stable foundation for growth,” he continued.
You can read more about HVADC’s role with Pennings Farm at www.hvadc.org/pennings-farm.
For information about HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls program please visit www.hvadc.org/iww
Photo Source: Pennings Farm