UPDATED: Gill Corn Farms closes, sells operation to foundation

01/16/2014 07:47:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

(UPDATED COVERAGE 2:54 p.m.) Gill Corn Farms Inc. has closed and sold its operations to a foundation for use in a sustainable agriculture project, but corn won’t be the focus at the farm.

Gill Corn FarmsThe NoVo Foundation, New York City, purchased the Hurley, N.Y.-based grower-shipper for $13 million. The foundation purchased all of the company’s land, farming and packing equipment, buildings and other property, said John Gill, president.

Gill said the Hudson Valley operation, which he and his brother, vice president Jack Gill, purchased from their parents in 1999, wasn’t in any kind of financial difficulty.

Jack Gill has retired while John Gill plans to remain involved as farm manager.

He said the time proved right to sell the farm, which officially closed in December.

“This is something we had to do and quite frankly, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Gill said. “The greatest thing for my dad and I is this place will always be in farming and that’s what we were worried about as I didn’t have a successor. We didn’t want to see it ever go out of farming. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to possibly make a difference in the world.”

Local Economies Project Founded in 1937 by Gill’s grandfather, John Gill, the company typically packs 385,000 crates of corn from 1,200 acres.

The Kingston, N.Y.-based Local Economics Project, part of the New York-based New World Foundation, plans to transform the farm into a “farm hub” teaching and research facility, said Brooke Pickering-Cole, the project’s manager of community relations.

A transition group is working on the crops the farm plans to handle, but corn won’t be its focus, she said.

“The project began in 2010 with an interest in strengthening the Hudson Valley economy,” Pickering-Cole said. “It quickly turned its focus to agriculture to bolster sustainability in the valley. After quite a bit of research and talking with people, what became clear is what would be most useful is a center to not only help new farmers get the training they need to start new farming businesses, but also a location for research and demonstrations of new farming techniques.”

With participation from Cornell Cooperative Extension in Ithaca, N.Y., the project plans to preserve the area’s “rich agricultural heritage and open space will be maintained for years to come,” according to the foundation.

Funded primarily by investor Warren Buffett, the foundation is managed by his children.



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