Internet technology and cattle farming are two industries that rarely intersect. But Sandy Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems—and today, the owner of Ayrshire Farm
—is no ordinary cattle farmer.
A major Silicon Valley player, Ms. Lerner earned her master’s degree from Stanford University before founding Cisco Systems in 1984. The first company to market a commercially viable router, Cisco took off quickly; and by the time Lerner left the company in 1990, it had became one of the most important businesses in the industry.
But Lerner’s first entrepreneurial ventures were, in fact, on the farm. She was raised in Northern California and purchased her first steer at age 9; by selling this cow, buying two more with the profit, and raising a modest herd of cattle, she was able to finance her college tuition. And after leaving Cisco Systems, she purchased Ayrshire Farm in 1996—an 800-acre farm in Upperville, Virginia, that couldn’t be farther from her days in technology.
Dedicated to preserving rare breeds of cattle, Ayrshire is a model of traditional, sustainable farming. The property and manor house date to the 1800s, and while Lerner’s purchase infused the farm with new life, its atmosphere has hardly changed. The farm earned its Certified Humane and Organic designations, acknowledging the high standards with which it treats its cattle.
In the years since Lerner took over the farm, it has added an incredible variety of livestock, from Gloucestershire Old Spot
pedigree hogs, to Ancient White Park cattle
, to rose veal. Proving that time-honed methods can be applied to modern, economically viable farms, Lerner has made her mark on the industry—just as she has, so often, before.
Ayrshire Farm is one of GigaChef.com's featured vendors.