David Mancera grew up in a farmworking family in Chualar, located in the heart of California’s Salinas Valley. Like many others across California’s agricultural system, his parents migrated to the U.S. as farmworkers from their native Guanajuato.
Beginning at the age of eight, David began to support his family in the fields. Weekends, vacations, daylight hours after school were dedicated to supporting the family’s income. While it was backbreaking work, and at the time not how he was excited to spend his childhood free time, David reflects on how the work brought the family together.
“In the fields, when someone was tired and fell behind, someone else would be there to pick up the slack. It made us work together as a family, as a unit… and it taught me the value of hardwork, responsibility, teamwork, generosity, and helping others.”
It wasn’t until he reached high school that he began to consider a future career in agriculture. David began in agricultural marketing, and eventually moved into an operations, then finance, focus. However, he craved a more direct connection to individual growers, and an opportunity to impact families like his own. While working for Driscoll’s, David was immersed in production data, aggregated from their growers to share with management and board members. He was curious about what this information looked like to the individual growers. He knew that while Driscoll’s might be making money, the farmers might still be struggling. The data was detached from their reality.
In 2015, David Mancera joined Kitchen Table Advisors as the organization’s first official Farm Business Advisor. He focused on serving farm and ranch clients throughout the Central Coast, including those based around the community where he grew up and continues to raise his own family and many of whom share a journey into agriculture that mirrors his parents’. Farmers like Javier Zamora, owner of JSM Organics, who David supported through the purchase, and ongoing growth, of a 195 acre property in Aromas, CA.
“David Mancera has been like an older brother for me because I can give him a call about issues that I'm having financially and how am I going to be able to overcome certain aspects of the farming operation. [He] has helped me understand that when it comes to winter, you’ve got to make sure you prepare yourself when there is a lot of money coming in during summertime and fall. Not only has it helped me to stay afloat during wintertime, but also has helped me purchase land.”
-Javier Zamora, JSM Organics
David’s Impact, by the Numbers
Through working with Kitchen Table Advisors, and consulting with additional small farms (which he happened to squeeze in between his three sons’ extracurricular activities, family functions, taking on the role of president at a local youth soccer-focused non-profit, soccer coaching), David was able to leverage his experience to support farmers and ranchers that dedicate their lives to feeding their community. And who, with the right access to resources, can make a living and in turn support their families. At the same time, he learned from the farmers’ resiliency and resourcefulness. “Farmers speak to the basic human element of survival: despite odds, a lack of resources, they keep working and make it work. It’s a reminder to keep at it.”