When Jamie K. Shen consults with institutional investor clients about farmland investment, she knows more than a thing or two about the subject matter.
Ms. Shen is not only senior vice president and alternative investment practice leader for San Francisco-based consulting firm Callan Associates, but she also is a fourth-generation California farmer.
Ms. Shen grew up on a fruit and walnut orchard in Dingville, a tiny unincorporated area north of Sacramento. She bought her own small farm when she was 28 and in 2004, also took over the family farm. She is now training the fifth generation of farmers in her family. Recently, her two older children helped paint the bark of new walnut trees white to protect the young trees from the sun.
Ms. Shen said growing up on a farm influenced her selection of a day job, too. Her emphasis at the University of California at Berkeley's business school was real estate.
Growing up on a farm, everything is tied to the land. That's what made me attracted to real estate, she said. In the last 12 years covering agriculture managers, when they talk about such things as crop types or fertilization, I can visualize what they are talking about.
Ms. Shen is not the only farmer on Callan's staff. Sally Haskins, senior vice president in the firm's Chicago office and a consultant in Callan's real asset consulting group, lives on a sheep farm in Wisconsin that also has a dairy and produces cheese.