Neil Thapar is a lawyer by profession and volunteers for Kitchen Table Advisors as a farm advisor focusing on legal matters. He's originally from Los Angeles and has lived and worked in the California Bay Area for almost a decade. "I learned much about small-scale food production and the impacts of the global economic system on food production while living or traveling in other countries," he tells us. "Coming back to California, I realized many of the same issues existed right here." Neil shares with us his passion for working with farms through volunteering with us.
What is your personal connection to sustainable food and farming?
Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, I didn't know a thing about how to grow food. What I learned was that the future of our economic and social systems depends on a transformation in the way food is produced. So, to learn what I decided was a basic skill all of us should be proficient in and to expose myself to the realities of small-scale, sustainable food production, I did a six-month farm apprenticeship in 2012. After that experience, I've been working to support small-scale, local food producers that feed communities and sustain strong local economies.
What brought you to Kitchen Table Advisors? Tell us about your role.
I met Anthony Chang through a mutual friend, Alex Dang, who is a long-time volunteer. Just as Kitchen Table Advisors is filling a gap in the support system for small farm enterprises in the business management realm, there is a gap in legal services available to small farmers. As a farm advisor captain, my role is to assist Kitchen Table Advisors' clients with legal questions and connect clients with lawyers interested and capable of supporting the small farm community.
Why is it important for you to support farmers in building viable businesses?
Small farm enterprises, like other small businesses, operate without access to and support from large financial, legal, tax, and governmental institutions that larger corporations benefit from by virtue of their size and their influence within those institutions. Kitchen Table Advisors tips the scale back in favor of small farm enterprises, which is what attracted me to join in support.
What are you most excited about for Kitchen Table Advisors?
Growth! The organization is growing, the number of clients is growing, and the community of support for both Kitchen Table Advisors and small farmers is growing! All of that growth means that more and more people are going to learn about these farms, where their food is coming from, what it takes to grow that food. It's these intellectual and physical connections that are going to form the foundation of the transformation that we need in order to restore equity and sustainability into our food system.