Research Operations Manager
The primary function of this position is the strategic oversight and management of Johnny's Selected Seeds' (JSS) research operations and farm sites. The position is based at the JSS research farm in Albion, Maine and reports to the Vice President of Research and Development. Our 10 farm sites are certified organic or managed as sustainable and low-input and include a total of 85 farmed acres. In addition, ten unheated high tunnels and five heated greenhouses provide 50K square feet of protected cultivation. Our research is focused on finding or breeding outstanding varieties of vegetables, cut flowers, fruit, and herbs and on thoughtfully designed tools and equipment for Mixed Market Growers and Avid Home Gardeners. The JSS farming operations are part of a larger integrated Plant Breeding and Product Development team that breeds and trials a large and diverse number of vegetable, flower, herb, and fruit varieties each year, as well as conducting in-use evaluation of tools and supplies. The maintenance and appearance of the research facilities is essential to our business. The research farm is a destination for our suppliers and customers to experience our operations and view our trials. International and domestic seed supply companies visit our farm, meet with our staff, and discuss trial results. The JSS farming operations also support the seed production of many proprietary varieties and parent lines. The farm additionally manages a comprehensive Up-for-Grabs produce program for employees and charity. The Farm Operations Manager and Greenhouse Operations Manager report to this position. Four full-time staff and approximately 30 part-time farm crew members annually report into these roles.
- Manage the success of crops in the open fields and greenhouses at all sites and isolation farms.
- Ensure farming operations support trialing and breeding objectives.
- Oversight and management of soil health and improvement, including annual soil testing, cover crop selection and planning, and cover crop maintenance and destruction.
- Annual and long-term development of farm crop plans.
- Develop and manage annual operating budget.
- Develop and manage capital investment plan, expenses, and equipment.
- Resource allocations and management.
- Support the successful delivery of on-farm seed crops for the Seed Production and Breeding departments.
- Ensure phytosanitary protocols are established and followed for plant and seed health.
- Develop and set key performance metrics for quality and productivity of crop programs.
- Evaluation of agronomic practices and development of recommendations.
- Review, document, and update crop protocols and management procedures.
- Conduct periodic crop walks and reviews with Product Development, Breeding, and Seed Production teams.
- Setting safety standards and ensuring compliance.
- Transportation and logistics planning.
- Organic farm certification.
- Irrigation infrastructure and design.
- Farmland lease management.
- Interdepartmental communications.
- Development of department goals and priorities.
- Staff recruitment and hiring.
- Management of direct reports and performance reviews.
- Support and mentor employee development plans.
- Promote Johnny's mission and R&D activities through public workshops and forums as needed.
- An advanced college degree in horticulture, agriculture, or agronomy, or the equivalent experience.
- An applied knowledge of organic and sustainable farming operations is required.
- An applied knowledge of growing a diverse number of vegetable crops is required.
Qualifications & Skills
- Five or more years of experience with research farm management.
- Good leadership skills, with the ability to set direction and empower employees.
- Ability to define and set short- and long-term priorities across a diverse range of objectives.
- Experience with strategic long-term planning of resources and facilities.
- Good communication, negotiation, and listening skills are required.
- Knowledge of, and ten or more years of experience with organic and sustainable farming practices.
- Ten or more years of experience managing farm operations of 20 or more acres.
- Ten years of experience managing farm labor and farm crews of 15–30 or more members.
- Ten or more years of production experience with fruity, leafy, root, and bulb vegetable crops.
- Five or more years of experience with irrigation management of vegetable crops.
- Five or more years of experience as a line manager, including performance reviews and development plans.
- Experience conducting agricultural research experiments and trials, trial design, and implementation is preferred.
- Experience with commercial vegetable seed production is preferred.
- Ability to operate a variety of small-scale farming equipment and implements used on vegetable farms.
- Experience working with research and plant scientists is preferred.
- Experience with Mixed Market Farmers and Home Gardeners is desirable.
- Ability to host visitors and articulate Johnny's mission.
- A creative thinker with innovative and practical solutions.
- A good work ethic and comfort level with hands-on activities in the field.
- A positive job attitude and enjoy working with a diverse group of people.
- Good computer skills, with experience using the Microsoft software suite of programs.
- Certification in safety, first aid, and CPR is desirable.
- Ability to work in farm fields under adverse or extreme weather conditions.
- Ability to travel as needed, both domestically and internationally.
- Ability to freely access all areas and locations of the business.
- Ability to sit and work at a computer workstation for extended periods of time.
- Ability to operate common farm equipment.
- Health Insurance (HNO, PPO, HSA)
- Dental Insurance
- Vision Insurance
- Flexible Spending Account (Medical & Dependent Care)
- Employee Stock Ownership Plan & Profit Sharing
- Employee Discount
- Maternity/Paternity/Adoption & Foster Care Leave
- Company Paid Life Insurance
- Voluntary Life Insurance
- Voluntary Pet Insurance
- Company Paid Short- & Long-Term Disability Insurance
- Paid Time Off
- Educational Assistance
Johnny's Selected Seeds provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, amnesty, or status as a covered veteran in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws.