About The Lent-Burden Farming, Inc. Team
Lent-Burden Farming Company (LBFC) was formed in 1993. Gordon Lent had recently retired from Pacific Coast Farms where he was responsible for managing the agricultural portfolio for Hancock Insurance Company. Lent approached Mike Burden, owner of Burden Farming Company, to form Lent-Burden Farming Company geared toward the development of land to permanent crops. At the time, Burden was farming over 500 acres and had developed several hundred acres of vineyards and orchards for clients, including Hancock.
Between 1993 and 1999, LBFC developed over 5,000 acres into almond orchards, walnut orchards and wine grape vineyards. LBFC also managed the farming operations on a continuing basis after development. In 1999, LBFC developed its first multi-investor partnership in the form of a 400 acre almond orchard, Sandy Hills Ranch, LLC. Dennis Wittchow, recently retired after selling his interest in a large vegetable dehydration company, became the major investor and president of the LLC. Wittchow also invested in the next two partnerships formed by LBFC in 2000 and 2002.
In 2003, Lent-Burden Farming, Inc. (LBFI), was formed when Wittchow was invited to be a partner. The new entity is the “parent” of all new projects, while LBFC continues to “parent” the projects existing prior to 2003. Since 2003, LBFI and LBFC have developed 7,653 additional acres. The total orchard and vineyard acres under management as of 2013 are 10,232.
J. Gordon Lent
Mr. Lent is a co-founder of Lent Burden Farming (predecessor to LBFI) which was established in 1993, with Mike Burden. His primary responsibilities include land acquisition, investor funding, banking relationships and industry relations.
While serving as president of Pacific Coast Farms, an affiliate of John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, Lent was responsible for the management of Hancock-owned agricultural properties in the western United States. It is in this capacity that Lent became acquainted with Mike Burden, who developed several projects for Lent and Hancock.
A licensed real estate agent, Lent has over 40 years experience in agribusiness, land management and real estate transactions. Lent managed ranch projects in Hawaii for sixteen years prior to returning to the mainland. Clients included Parker Ranch, Hana Ranch and Molokai Ranch. His experience also includes international consulting arrangements in Kenya, Iran, Mexico and Venezuela.
After graduating from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Husbandry and General Agriculture, Lent obtained a Master of Science in Animal Nutrition from the University of California, Berkeley. Lent served in the US Army, Korea 1951-1952. He then worked for Arizona Feeds for over 20 years in various sales and management capacities prior to forming a consulting business which ultimately led to his move to Hawaii.
Michael R. Burden
Mr. Burden is a co-founder of Lent Burden Farming with Gordon Lent. Born and raised on a walnut ranch, Burden has been active in production agriculture his entire life.
Burden has primary responsibility for managing all farm development and farm management activities at LBFI. A graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, with a Bachelor of Science in Fruit Science, Burden also studied Pomology at University of California, Davis. Five area farm managers currently work under Burden’s direction.
Upon completion of college, Burden worked on a family almond and row-crop ranch for two years before starting Burden Farming Company with his wife Doris. Burden has specialized for over 30 years in three crops – almonds, walnuts, and wine grapes – and has extensive knowledge and experience in each of these three crops.
Burden Farming Company provides labor and equipment to the Affiliated Entities of LBFI, and is also responsible for 100% of grape harvesting services for all ranches farmed by LBFI.
Mr. Wittchow is President/CEO of Lent Burden Farming, Inc. having joined LBFI in 2003. Born and raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Wittchow graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Bachelor of Business Administration. His service in the US Army Transportation Corps. from 1965-1967 included one year as a Company Commander (1LT.) in Vietnam.
Prior to joining LBFI, Wittchow worked over 22 years in the dehydrated vegetable business serving the last nine years as CEO of Basic Vegetable Products. During his tenure, he was involved in all facets of a vertically integrated agribusiness. Activities included seed variety development, fresh produce production and sales, dehydration/processing and sales/marketing of the finished product to the worldwide food ingredient industry.
Wittchow is primarily responsible for managing the non-farming activities of LBFI. Along with Gordon Lent, he is directly involved in land acquisition, investor relations, banking relationships and financial management, as well as oversight of administrative functions. Wittchow is also a licensed real estate agent.