At some point, every farmer will retire from their business whether that decision is made with years of lead time or suddenly due to illness, death, or another life changing event, requiring an exit from farming. Farmers have the power to make a plan for their business to continue even after they retire. There are many tools available to help create a farm succession plan, some of which are the important legal tools of wills, trusts, and business structures.

In this video, farmer Adrienne Ploss (she/her) of Hickory Hurst Farm in New York shares how she is using these legal tools to plan for her own upcoming retirement. Her powerful story explains how she unexpectedly inherited her family’s 100-year-old farm, and how she applied lessons learned from that experience to her own succession planning. Hickory Hurst Farm is one of the last operating family farms on the west side of Chautauqua Lake. Adrienne’s goal is to create a succession plan that ensures Hickory Hurst Farm continues as one entity (business and property) and that the 96-acre property will not be sold and developed.  Her story uplifts important insights and action steps she has taken while developing a farm succession plan that will provide inspiration and ideas for your journey, too.

Farm Commons is grateful to have collaborated with Adrienne as a member of the 2023 Collaborative Learning Fellowship.