Three organizations recently came together to extend technical resources, financial assistance and direct market access to historically underserved California farmers — especially Latinx and other farmers of color — in agricultural regions, including central of California, while increasing the amount of agricultural land in the state used to grow organic produce. .
Daily harvest, American Farmland Trust (AFT) and the California Certified Organic Farmers Foundation (CCOF) launched a multi-year partnership to help more than 100 farmers implement regenerative farming practices and build the long-term viability of their farms. According to the partnership, its “collective long-term goal is to foster more profitable and sustainable farms in the United States, by making nutritious, responsibly grown fruits and vegetables accessible to everyone.”
Building successful, viable farms and expanding organic agriculture in California
Over one-third of vegetables and two-thirds of fruits and nuts for U.S. consumption are grown in California. Yet, “many farmers are currently struggling, with the pandemic disrupting markets, labor availability, input prices, and this is further compounded by [California’s] historic drought [and] increase in climate-related natural disasters,” says Tom Stein, California regional director at AFT, a nonprofit that has supported the conservation agriculture movement since 1980.
The AFT, whose motto is “No Farms, No Food, No Future,” and CCOF, a nonprofit organization founded in 1973 by California farmers who support the state’s Certified Organic Program, have found an ally in Daily Harvest, a meal prep delivery service with a focus on organic ingredients.
Specifically, they will provide support to more than 100 farmers through one-on-one financial and technical assistance, workshops and business planning that marginalized farmers would otherwise struggle to access. The financial aid includes ‘support to ten farmers with [up to] $10,000 a year for three years” to help transition their land from conventional to organic farming, CCOF program manager Adrian Fischer told TriplePundit.
Program participants will also benefit from the opportunity to join the Daily Harvest supply chain so they can sell their crops with premium price guarantees.
A partnership designed to address systemic inequalities
Stein gave an example of the type of farmer the program will help, explaining, “Consider a farmer growing mixed vegetables on a 5-acre farm in the San Joaquin Valley. They operate on a year-to-year lease and have moved and farmed different land several times over the past 15 years that they have farmed. Most of the work is done by hand and with a small tractor, and they are barely profitable. »
Stein continued, “These farmers have another job in town, and farming is their second job. The surrounding wells of neighboring farms, essential for irrigating crops, are drying up. They fear that their well will be the next and that they will not have the means to repair it. They lost a lot of sales during the pandemic and had to pay higher costs for water, irrigation materials and fertilizers due to supply chain disruptions and drought, and they don’t know how long their farm will survive.
In response, Stein says, the partnership will prioritize “practices that help conserve soil and water resources, such as drip irrigation, planting cover crops, applying compost, reducing tillage and groundwater recharge”.
And he seeks to uplift one of the most marginalized yet vital groups. “As a farmer-led, mission-driven organization, CCOF actively works to spread the economic, environmental and social benefits of organic agriculture,” adds Fischer. “That’s why our first cohort of beneficiaries from this project in California are supporting Latinx farmers […] a community that represents the largest population of agricultural workers but is underrepresented in agricultural ownership.
The American food system depends on Hispanic workers, who represent 51% of farm workers and 30% of farm managers, inspectors and supervisors nationwide. Although some the workers have progress made to become farm owners, he has not yet resolved the age and looming social gaps.
“The average California farmer is almost 60 years old and nearing retirement,” Stein says. “Through this partnership, we will continue our current work to unravel and address some of the lingering effects of unfair and discriminatory policiessystems and practices that have targeted farmers of color [who are now] ready to help fill the void in this generational change.
An organic food system for a resilient future
Daily Harvest’s Director of Sustainability, Rebecca Gildiner, believes the partnership is strongly aligned with the company’s mission to “take care of food, so food can take care of you”.
“Daily Harvest is on a mission to reimagine an entirely new food system that is actually people and planet focused,” says Gildiner. “While our goal may seem simple, achieving it is certainly not. But, we always start with the floor and the people who maintain it through [how] and what we buy [using] safer regenerative practices for farmers, their communities and the planet.
3p also asked CCOF’s Fischer what realizing CCOF’s vision of “a world where organic is the norm” would look like.
“The impact would be huge,” says Fischer. “We can use the power of organic farms to build healthy soils, reduce CO2 levels in the atmosphere and mitigate climate change. By investing in organic farms, we are also putting dollars back into the community.
“Working to fulfill this mission, AFT, Daily Harvest and CCOF are investing in a healthier, more resilient and prosperous world for the economy, people and planet,” Fischer added.
Image credit: Tim Mossholder via Unsplash