Javier Zamora grew up farming in Michoacán, Mexico where no chemicals or herbicides were used in their food system. They rotated crops and let the land rest -- a practice that Javier continues to this day. In his twenties, Javier moved to Los Angeles to work in the restaurant industry. At forty-three, having decided to return to school, he relocated to Santa Cruz to study agriculture. The choice to grow food based on organic methods was a simple one. In addition to being his passion, it was what he knew growing up, “It’s a little more of a challenge than conventional farming, but, for me, it’s just natural. I don’t think I could do anything else. I love what I do. I enjoy it. It’s my life and livelihood. It’s so beautiful to see, you know, a seed going into the ground and then bringing the beautiful product out to the customer and seeing how happy it makes them. It’s a whole circle."

Ten of Javier’s active twenty-four acres are devoted to strawberries. He grows four different varieties: Hood, Sweet Ann, Chandler, and Albion. He continuously hands visitors fistfuls of his mouth-watering berries. They are juicy, sweet, and still warm from the sun – the best way to eat them. Javier also grows avocados, cucumbers, various kinds of squash, corn, green beans, blackberries, raspberries, heirloom tomatoes, beets, potatoes, peppers, leeks, onions, artichokes, French and English lavender, and many kinds of flowers. He is very proud of the biodiversity on his farm and he continues to add new and innovative crops and varietals.

Javier started JSM Organics four years ago (2012) by himself on one acre of land in Royal Oaks (Watsonville area), CA. The business has grown exponentially. He employs over twenty people and grows on forty-six acres. He hopes to purchase a piece of land to bring his working farm to a total of one-hundred acres. One of his goals is to provide small plots of five to ten acres to other growers. “There are a lot of growers out there that need five or ten acres, but they can’t get it because it’s not available. If it is available, it’s usually the larger companies who are the ones that hear about it first. In this case, I hear about land being available because I’m always going to workshops and speaking with people, so that’s how I got the leases for this land. If I get this additional land, I can help make small parcels available to small growers in the area.” Javier, along with other farmers in Santa Cruz, are not the only farmers who have trouble finding land—this is a global issue. As more and more corporations acquire farmland, less land is available to small farmers. 

Javier’s been working with Kitchen Table Advisor, David Mancera, for nearly a year. David has been providing Javier with guidance on accessing markets and capital in addition to managing cash flow. Kitchen Table Advisors has played an important role in helping Javier work toward this land purchase. “David’s helping out a lot with FarmLink--now that we’re trying to buy this property. He helps me understand when I need to do certain things, always pointing me toward the direction that I need to head in. I feel like I fit in really good because I’m the same way. Guys come to me for direction and they need a few things and I can always direct them where to go or help them get things done. I’m proud being a part of that community.” While Javier has officially only been working with KTA for one year, Javier met Anthony Chang, KTA Founder and Executive Director, when he first started farming. Anthony, who was working at FarmLink at the time, helped Javier get his first loan of $5,000 in 2012. Since then, Javier has received loans from FarmLink every year. Last year he received $200,000! Having the people and resources available at KTA and FarmLink has made his work possible, and his farm more likely to succeed and grow sustainably. For Kitchen Table Advisors and for David in particular, “It's very rewarding to help small farms become sustainable businesses."

Come meet Javier and taste JSM Organic’s beautiful strawberries this September 22nd, 2016 from 6.30pm to 9.30pm during Grazing at the Kitchen Table. The event will be hosted at Dogpatch WineWorks in San Francisco. Tickets are on sale now--don't wait to reserve your seat! Follow #GrazeAndGive2016 for updates.

Before Grazing, you can track down Javier's sun-kissed strawberries at the following markets: Facebook Farmers Market, Visa Farmers Market, US Community Center Farmers Market (Foster City), Fort Mason Farmers Market, New Leaf Market, and Bi-Rite Market.


Javier Zamora creció en Michoacán, México en una familia agricultura. Durante ese tiempo, granjeros no usaron químicos ni herbicidas en la sistema alimentario, ellos simplemente rotado los cultivos y dejan la tierra a descansar, una practica que Javier se continuo a este día. En su veintena, Javier se mudó a Los Ángeles y trabajado en el industria de restaurantes. A la edad de cuarenta-tres años, él decidió a regresar escuela. Él se mudó a la área de Santa Cruz para estudiar agricultura. Para Javier, la elección de métodos orgánicos para su cultivos, fue una muy fácil. Además de ser apasionado de alimentos orgánicos, los métodos fue la manera de él creció, “Es un poco más difícil que agricultura convencional, pero, para mi, es lógico; es solo natural. No creo que pudiera hacer cualquier otra cosa. Yo encanto lo que hago. Lo disfruto. Es mi vida y mi subsistencia. Es tan hermoso a ver, tu sabes, una semilla de entrar la tierra y luego, a traer los productos tan bonitos a los clientes y a ver cuán felicidad mis cultivos hacen ellos. Es un circulo completo.”

Diez de sus veinticuatro acres en uso están dedicados a las fresas. Él cultiva cuatro variedades: Hood, Sweet Ann, Chandler, and Albion. Javier dará continuamente puñados de sus fresas que hace la boca agua a sus visitantes. Son jugosos, dulces y todavía calentitas por el sol, la mejor forma de comerlas. Además, Javier cultiva: aguacates, pepinos, varias tipos de calabazas, maíz, judías verdes (ejotes), moras, frambuesas, tomates heirloom, betabeles (remolachas), papas, pimientos, poros (puerros), cebollas, alcachofas, lavanda inglesa y lavanda francesa, y muchos tipos de flores. Él esta muy orgulloso de la biodiversidad de su finca y él siempre está añadiendo otro cultivos y variedades nuevas e innovadoras.

Javier empezó JSM Organics hace cuatro años (2012) por sólo él mismo, con un acre de tierra en Royal Oaks (cerca de Watsonville), CA. El negocio ha crecido de manera exponencial. Él tiene más de veinte empleados y cultiva sobre cuarenta y seis acres. Él espera que comprar un terreno qué lo daré él un total de cien acres de terreno cultivable para su finca. Uno de sus metas con este compra es de proveer parcelas pequeñas de cinco o diez acres a otro productores. “Hay muchos productores ahí que necesitan cinco o diez acres, pero no pueden conseguir los porque no están disponible. “Hay muchos productores ahí que necesitan cinco o diez acres, pero no pueden conseguir los porque no están disponible. Si está disponible, normalmente está las empresas más grandes que oyen primeras acerca del terreno. En este caso, yo oigo de terreno que esta disponible porque siempre estoy yendo a talleres y siempre estoy hablando con personas, así es como yo conseguido los arrendamientos para esas parcelas. Si yo consigo este terreno adicional, yo podría hacer más parcelas pequeñas disponibles para otros productores pequeños en la zona.” Javier, junto con los otros productores en Santa Cruz, no son los únicos productores quien tienen problemas de conseguir terreno, esta es una problema global. Como más y más corporaciones adquirir el terreno cultivable, menos terreno está disponible para los productores pequeños.

Javier ha estado trabajando con David Mancera, un consejero de Kitchen Table Advisors, por casi un año. David ha estado proveyendo orientación ejecutiva a Javier, de cómo acceder a los mercados, capital y manejar el movimiento de caja. Kitchen Table Advisors ha tenido un rol importante de ayudando Javier trabajar hacia este compra de terreno cultivable. “David ha estado ayudándome mucho con FarmLink—especialmente ahora que estamos tratando de comprar esta propiedad. Él me ayuda a entender cuando necesito hacer algunas cosas, siempre me apuntando hacia la dirección que debo que ir. Pienso que me encajo muy bien con KTA porque soy de la misma manera. Gente vienen a mí por dirección o consejos o cuando ellos necesitan algunas cosas y yo siempre puedo ayudar, a dar instrucciones a donde pueden encontrar lo que necesitan o puedo ayudar ellos acabar las varias cosas. Estoy orgulloso de estar parte de esa comunidad.” Aunque Javier, solo ha estado trabajando con KTA formalmente por un año, Javier lo conocía Anthony Chang (fundador y director ejecutivo de KTA) cuando él primero comenzado su finca. Anthony, quien estaba trabajando por FarmLink durante eso tiempo, le ayudó Javier a recibir su primer préstamo de $5,000 en 2012. Desde entonces, Javier ha recibido préstamos de FarmLink cada año. ¡El año pasado, él recibí $200,000! Tener las personas y recursos disponible de parte de KTA y FarmLink han hecho el trabajo de Javier posible, y su finca más probable de tener éxito y de crecer sostenible. Para Kitchen Table Advisors y para David Mancera en particular, “Lo esta muy gratificante a ayudar fincas pequeñas convertirse en negocios sostenibles.”

Venga a Grazing at the Kitchen Table y conocer a Javier este 22 de septiembre desde 6.30pm hasta 9.30pm y probar las fresas hermosas de JSM Organics. Este evento estaré albergado por "Dogpatch WineWorks" en San Francisco. Compra sus boletos ahora! Sigue #GrazeAndGive2016 para noticias del evento.

Antes de “Grazing”, encuentre las fresas llenas de rayos del sol de Javier en los mercados siguiente: Facebook Farmers Market, Visa Farmers Market, US Community Center Farmers Market (Foster City), Fort Mason Farmers Market, New Leaf Market, y Bi-Rite Market.

 

Bay Area farm: Fifth Crow Farm

Bay Area farm: Fifth Crow Farm

Founded in 2008 by a trio of recent UCSC Farm & Garden program grads, Fifth Crow Farm is a young business with big ambitions. Those ambitions extend beyond the farm itself, as partners John Vars, Mike Irving, and Teresa Kurtak operate with long-term sustainability in mind.

What started with a shoestring budget has become a prolific enterprise in its own right. The Pescadero-based farm consists of 80 acres of land: 30 acres of row crops, an apple orchard, a young pear orchard, and 350 heritage-breed, pastured hens. The team’s 50 plus crops include 24 varieties of apples, leafy greens, squash, root veggies, beans, berries, flowers, and much more. This diversity is more than just a boon to Fifth Crow Farm’s dedicated customers, including a 200-member CSA; it’s a conscious decision to avoid mono-cropping.  

Bay Area farm: Fifth Crow Farm

Bay Area farm: Fifth Crow Farm

Sustainability is the farm’s guiding principle. Certified Organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), they utilize compost, cover crops, and organic fertilizers to keep things humming. Mobile chicken coops mean both healthy birds and healthy soil for future crops. Crop rotation, exclusion (netting), and beneficial insects offer ecosystem-friendly alternatives to synthetic pesticides. The team has even partnered with the FDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide habitat and travel corridors for beneficial insects and pollinators, and establish energy- and water-efficient irrigation systems. 

Supporting the community — including those who work the land — is another part of this sustainable mindset. “They care deeply about helping build resilient local food systems, building community, and connecting people to where their food comes from,” says their Advisor Anthony Chang. “And they take really seriously their responsibility in running their business with integrity -- offering year round employment to many of their employees, paying them a good wage, and contributing to a scholarship fund for the children of farmworkers in Pescadero.”

Running a farm that’s socially just, ecologically sound, and economically viable is no small feat. Challenges, often unexpected, arise every day. Just this month, the team’s ailing water pump gave out, which meant postponing plans for five acres of quinoa. In true farmer spirit, they adapted, armed with the knowledge that their nascent potatoes can be dry farmed since they were sown with sufficiently saturated soil.

Often, the obstacles aren’t weather or equipment woes, but the everyday challenges of running a business. That’s where Kitchen Table Advisors comes in. KTA has been working with Fifth Crow Farm since 2013, providing business planning, financial management, and organizational development mentorship. Perhaps most importantly, KTA has acted as a sounding board for their ever-evolving plans, and connected them with resources and tools to help them thrive. Today, Fifth Crow Farm is part of KTA’s new alumni program.

Bay Area farm: Fifth Crow Farm

Bay Area farm: Fifth Crow Farm

It’s been inspiring to watch the team grow — their farm, community, and families. In 2013, farmer John and his wife Maggi welcomed daughter Naima to the farm the same day that farmers Mike and Teresa (partners in business and marriage) greeted son Charlie. No doubt, they are tilling that soil for Naima and Charlie. “They are stewarding the land for future generations,” says Anthony. “They are growing healthy food for my family and our communities. And they are building businesses with values where people and planet come first.” 

Come taste Fifth Crow Farm's beautiful meat and produce this September 22nd, 2016 from 6.30pm to 9.30pm during Grazing at the Kitchen Table. The event will be hosted at Dogpatch WineWorks in San Francisco. Tickets go on sale in July. Follow #GrazeAndGive2016 for updates.