American Farmer Profile: Adam Englehart

December 12, 2023
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This article is part of our American Farmer Profile series. AcreTrader partners with farm operators who cultivate profound expertise, are driven by a spirit of entrepreneurship, and love farming. Read other articles in this series about the farmers behind Strongwater Viticultural Investments and Dickman Family Farms.

Meet an olive farmer and business professional who has enriched the olive industry across successful businesses like Olivina, California Olive Ranch, and Cobram Estate. Adam Englehardt, the General Manager of Englehardt Ag Services LLC is a fifth-generation California farmer partnering with AcreTrader Financial LLC in the opportunistic expansion of his farm ownership and farm management operations with the acquisition of the Stony Creek Olive Ranch in Tehama County, California.

Adam's Farming Journey

Beginning with his family company, Olivina, in 1998 Adam's investment in this industry started with planting olive orchards as a land use mitigation strategy. After the first planting, Olivina developed additional orchards and constructed an olive oil mill on-site.

Adam majored in Agricultural Business at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, afterwards joining the Hearst Corporation, where he gained valuable experience working on Hearst's diverse farming and livestock operations.

In 2008, Adam joined California Olive Ranch (COR), then a relatively small company pioneering the super high-density (SHD) method of growing olives for oil in California. Under his leadership as Vice President of Agriculture from 2008 to 2014, COR underwent a significant expansion, growing from 500 planted acres to more than 10,000 acres under management at the time of his departure. Adam was instrumental in managing grower relations and played a crucial role in identifying, acquiring, developing, and overseeing orchard properties for both COR and institutional investors.

In 2014, Adam embarked on a new chapter in his career by becoming the President and CEO of Boundary Bend Olives Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of Boundary Bend Limited, an Australian olive grower, oil processor, and marketer that is now known as "Cobram Estate." During his tenure, Adam oversaw the acquisition and construction of an olive oil processing and bottling facility in Woodland, California, as well as the acquisition of over 1,000 acres of land in Yolo County. Under his leadership, Boundary Bend became the third-largest olive oil producer in California and the fastest-growing California olive oil brand in supermarkets.

Recognizing the growing demand for professional orchard management services, Adam Englehardt took a proactive step by forming the predecessor of Englehardt Ag Services (EAS) in 2019. Leveraging his extensive experience and specialization in olive growing, EAS quickly gained a clientele base. The company currently manages 910 acres of permanent orchard crops and provides custom olive harvest services to over 1,200 acres. EAS operates with a dedicated staff of 16 employees and enlists seasonal and contract labor when necessary.

EAS has used olive orchards as a starting point for their expanding business. Their team expertly manages other permanent crops in California, such as wine grapes, walnuts, and almonds at a commercial scale in the Sacramento Valley. In addition to EAS’s investment in specialty equipment tailored for super high-density olive orchards, what further sets the company apart is Adam’s unique pruning strategy developed over the last 15 years, which has led to higher yields and greater oil content. There’s a saying that resonates with Adam; “He who ploughs the olive grove, asks it for fruit; he who fertilizes it, demands fruit; he who prunes it, forces fruit out of it.” - Lucio J.M. Columela, 3 B.C.

Adam's Strategy: Seizing Opportunity

Adam's perspective on agriculture is driven by a keen eye for niche opportunities in the farming landscape. "In my time with the institutions, I saw the problems in spending that they were making. I saw farms that were too big for small farmers to buy and too small for institutions to be interested—those were often the best deals. It became clear in my mind that that’s where the opportunities were."

The U.S. is the world's largest consumer of olive oil, with a staggering 98% of that oil being imported. “There is a huge demand for vegetable oils in the world. As people’s diets increase in quality proteins, the need for fats rises as well," Adam explains. “Olives are the most expensive and preferable fat by a fair margin.” Adam continues to develop his farm with foresight for what may come from future changes in the market and the American appetite.

Another major factor in Adam's decision-making is California's limited water supply. Because of this, a lot of Adam's attention has been drawn to the Sacramento Valley. Adam explains, “My focus has been on the Sacramento Valley for several reasons. For one, the Sacramento Valley has much more reliable water and therefore will not be impacted by California's groundwater regulations to the same degree as the San Joaquin Valley.”

Adam's previous business decisions have also come into play. "Five years ago, the land in the Sacramento Valley was significantly cheaper than it was down south. I was able to get ahead a bit because of this." Adam has been able to plan for the future expansion of his farm operation. "Over the next few years, with tree nut prices down, I think we’ll be able to get in and buy land at an attractive price.” Adam plans to use this opportunistic approach to leverage appreciation in the market.

Adam Englehart and AcreTrader

Adam's partnership with AcreTrader took shape after meeting at a farmland investing conference. Adam views his collaboration with AcreTrader as a smart way to scale his expertise and farming operations effectively. One of the challenges that farmers like Adam face is the cost of land and development of a super-high density olive orchard. This is where AcreTrader can step in – to provide equity to industry experts with access to unique and attractive farmland asset class investment opportunities. “We look at AcreTrader as a force multiplier,” says Adam. “When we looked at the deal with AcreTrader, we sought to be aligned with the capital partners and put in enough of our own capital so we have a vested interest. Our interest was largely in the cash yield potential of the project.” Looking forward to future capital raises with AcreTrader, Adam aims to leverage this partnership to achieve an even greater impact in the industry, where "two plus two can equal five," creating a united front that empowers Adam's team. Together, we aim to create opportunities for farming operations that are more than the sum of their parts. Check out Adam’s most recent offering with AcreTrader, Stony Creek Olive Ranch.

AcreTrader is proud to partner with forward-thinking farmers like Adam Englehart who apply their life experience to developing American farming operations.

You can invest through the AcreTrader platform. View our current offerings to get started.

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