Master Farmer Makings: Glen Cauffman Lives Farm Innovation

First of four features on what makes the 2013 Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer award winners click.

Published on: Apr 18, 2013

Vision and tenacity carried Glen Cauffman through many experiences on and off his Millerstown, Pa., farm. His passion for teaching farm innovation took him to places like University Park, Pa., the former Soviet Ukraine, Romania, Republic of Georgia, even New York City.

During nearly 25 years as Penn State University's farm operations manager, he converted the university's farms to no-till with extensive conservation practices, introduced nutrient management programs and cover crops. He led the university's move into adopting biofuels, biohydraulic fluids, even composting of food wastes and manure – all while commuting home to farm on weekends.

His home-farm venture took a new direction in 2004 with what's now a 150-head Angora goat herd. As herd numbers grew, so did Cauffman's prescription-grazed pasture paddocks, seeded with innovative plant varieties not found on most farms.

BRIAR-BUSTERS: These goats made short work of multi-flora rose that had overgrown the farmstead Cauffman now claims as home.
BRIAR-BUSTERS: These goats made short work of multi-flora rose that had overgrown the farmstead Cauffman now claims as home.

Next-level management of pasture nutrition raised his herd's natural resistance to parasites. Cup plant was introduced as a silage crop to boost forage protein and goat mohair quality.

In 2011, PureAmericanNaturals was born, a high-quality mohair marketing venture aided by a USDA value-added producer grant. "We can no longer stop marketing at the farm gate," he emphasizes. With last year's retirement from Penn State, Glen's experimentations became commercial with a private medical research contract involving his goat herd.

A NATURAL CONNECTION: With help from local weavers, the Pure American Naturals venture creates yarns and products made of mohair and mohair-wool blends.
A NATURAL CONNECTION: With help from local weavers, the Pure American Naturals venture creates yarns and products made of mohair and mohair-wool blends.

Early this year, his fleece-to-fashion message attracted attention of New York City's top-level fashion designers. "Our product samples and story connected with fashion designers who now want trace back to real people offering heirloom quality fiber," he explains.

Nominate a worthy Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer candidate now
Know of an outstanding farmer who's deserving of the Master Farmer award? Then, nominate him or her now for the 2014 award. And they'll receive an application.

SMALL RUMINANT MASTER: Glen Cauffman put his lust for learning to work in developing the Northeasts largest angora goat herd into a value-added mohair business.
SMALL RUMINANT MASTER: Glen Cauffman put his lust for learning to work in developing the Northeast's largest angora goat herd into a value-added mohair business.

Since 1927, the Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer Awards program has recognized individual farmer leaders from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia who inspire others. These men and/or women are good farmers, smart business persons, excellent stewards of their resources and exemplary community servants. Size of the farming operation isn't a deciding factor.

The award is co-sponsored by American Agriculturist and Cooperative Extension in the above mentioned states. Email your nominations to: jvogel@farmprogress.com . Be sure the mailing address is current and complete.