How EcoFarm Supported an Aspiring Farmer’s Path to Success

Jay Owen Community Development Solutions, Earth Systems Science

“In 2011, I attended the EcoFarm Conference for the first time, thanks to my
Scholarship. It was there that I met one of my most important customers. At
the time I had nowhere to sell and didn’t know who to approach. While
attending a Marketing to Retail workshop, I got up in front of everyone,
introduced myself, and explained my search for a customer. My pitch? I was a
small beginning farmer and just needed a chance to get started. One retailer
gave me his business card and told me to call him when I was ready. And this
customer is now my largest account!

“EcoFarm has been a blessing to me. Not only did it get my foot in the door
– I learned so many valuable farming and marketing skills. I got to hear
directly from buyers what they want and how they want it. I made important
connections I had been lacking.

“Being a small organic farmer myself, I know how difficult it can be to
afford the conference. That’s money that could be used to purchase things
like drip tape or boxes. That’s why the gift of a Scholarship or Fellowship
is so invaluable.

“As a farmer, you just can’t do it yourself. The business of farming is
really tough. If you don’t have a strong support network you’re going to
struggle. In 2013, I became an EcoFarm Fellow and got to work with other
farmers and ranchers on the Fellowship goal of getting food to local food
deserts. I focused my Fellowship on addressing the absence of healthy local
produce in my community of Watsonville by growing ethnic produce varieties
that would meet the food customs of Latino cultures including jicamas,
verdolagas, papalo, and chilacayote. So much food is produced in this region
but most of it gets distributed elsewhere. I’m starting to see this change,
and the difference it makes. It’s very rewarding to see people in my
community enjoy what I grow. One day I plan to open a fresh produce market.”

Javier Zamora owns JSM Organics, cultivating 29 organic acres of
strawberries and unique varieties of vegetables and flowers in Royal Oaks,
CA. He earned his landscaping degree from San Joaquin Delta College and his
organic production degree from Cabrillo College. Javier trained at the
Agriculture & Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) in Salinas. He is now a
successful farm owner and plans to double the size of his operation within
the coming year.

The farmer-led EcoFarm Farmers’ Association <https://eco-farm.org/>
supports the success of triple bottom line agricultural businesses by
providing democratically developed, member-led, collaborative support
programs. This includes conference scholarships
<https://eco-farm.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=3> ;
information resources; business development; financial management; legal
services; access to affordable inputs; equipment sharing; and work for
viable farm-gate prices, liability and health insurance, and policy
advocacy. Working together we can secure the health of people and the planet
through a safe, healthy, and just food and farming system.

Register by
<http://eco-farm.us4.list-manage.com/track/click?u=76c0bb8f4637459fcb1d94bf3 &id=38d23f1a8f&e=cb75d636d8> December 5, 2014 for the EcoFarm Conference
and SAVE!

EcoFarm Conference 2015, January 21 -24, 2015

Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California