Fresno State hires new farm manager

David Sieperda, right, is Fresno State’s new university farm manager. Also pictured is Fresno State Farm Coordinator Mark Salwasser.

Fresno State alum returns to manage university farm

David Sieperda graduated Fresno State in 1991 He has managed large farming operations in California and Oregon Fresno State offers over 80 agricultural classes

A Fresno State alum will oversee the university’s farming operations.

The Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology hired David Sieperda to manage the 1,000-acre agricultural laboratory, which includes a workforce of 120 people and 20 agricultural enterprises that mirror the diversity of the San Joaquin Valley.

Campus farming operations include wine, table and raisin grape vineyards, vegetable and field crops, tree fruits and nuts, along with dairy, beef, pork, poultry, sheep and horticulture units.

Sieperda comes to Fresno State after serving as manager of farm operations at Stahlbush Island Farms in Corvallis, Ore. There, he oversaw a our managers who increased fruit and vegetable production revenues and reduced production costs.

“Sieperda has extensive farm manager experience that will take us to new levels and enhance the academic experience of our students,” said Sandra Witte, interim dean of the Jordan College.

“Modern agriculture requires an educated and talented labor force combined with modern technologies. He understands how to combine them into complex food production processes here and around the world.”

In his four years there, the farm expanded its conventional and organic farming acreage, implemented new technologies including precision camera-guided cultivators to reduce labor costs, and utilized biogas plant byproducts to enhance soil quality.

Stahlbush Island Farms was named the 2012 Food Engineering Magazine Sustainable Plant of the Year and 2013 Corvallis Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.

Prior to that, Sieperda served as ranch manager for Llano Seco Rancho in Chico, Calif. from 2003-2011 where he is credited with helping the 17,000-acre ranch dramatically increase revenues. Besides nearly doubling its 600-cow conventional beef operation, he and his staff built one of the nation’s largest organic pork operations, revitalized its almond orchards and developed 450 acres of walnut trees.

Varied experience

Sieperda has experience as an agronomist, assistant manager and pest control advisor for Meyers Farming near Firebaugh. At the 4,500-acre diversified almond and cotton operation, he helped develop one of the state’s first private groundwater banking operations.

A 1991 Fresno State graduate, Sieperda was accepted in 2002 to the Water Leaders program, sponsored by the Water Education Foundation.

He previously served on the board of directors at Butte County Farm Bureau and as a sub-unit director of the Butte County Water Advisory Committee.

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“I am excited and pleased to return home to my alma mater and work alongside the many dedicated individuals here at Fresno State,” Sieperda said.

“I look forward to playing a part in providing students the opportunity to become familiar with farm operations and practices and to more deeply understand the role of agriculture here in the nation’s richest farming area and beyond.”

One of the state’s top agricultural learning environments, the campus farm hosts 80 classes and about 6,000 FFA students each year at the state convention. Many of the farm’s products are sold at the Gibson Farm Market to help educate thousands of visitors each year about the complete farm-to-fork process.

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