Mixed vegetables, berries, cut flowers
A small, certified organic farm that cultivates Bay Area-famous berries, all while supporting the dreams of others like him.
Agriculture takes deep root in Javier Zamora’s family history and upbringing. Growing up in a farming family in Mexico, Javier learned to plant and harvest produce through a garden program offered at his primary school. From this early age, Javier learned to farm organically, though his community had no specific name or movement associated with this approach to farming. It was simply how his family and community had farmed for generations, and it laid the foundation for his future business model.
Javier moved to the US in 1986 and settled in Los Angeles County, where, despite a childhood surrounded by agriculture, he spent many years working in construction, security and restaurants. He eventually moved to California’s Central Coast to study horticulture at Cabrillo College, which rekindled his passion for farming. With limited resources and no previous experience farming in the US, Javier joined ALBA’s Organic Farm Incubator to develop valuable knowledge on business management and organic growing practices. “I finished in 2011, [and] was surrounded by organizations that help small growers achieve their goal… That’s when I started learning about FarmLink and CCOF. And later on through FarmLink, sitting on the board, I learned about RSF.” With a new education and leased land on ALBA’s farm, JSM Organic Farms was born.
JSM Organic Farms grows a diverse mix of over 30 varieties of vegetables, berries, herbs and flowers, including several varieties of the crop closest to his heart: strawberries. When it came down to whether he would grow organically or conventionally, Javier claims the choice was simple: he’d farm the way he grew up farming, without chemicals and with respect for the land and the people eating his food. In July 2012, JSM Organic Farms started selling direct-to-consumer through 6 farmers markets and in the years since has diversified sales channels to include 6 additional accounts with retailers. As demand for his products grew, especially within nearby San Francisco, Javier struggled to meet market demand, and to find the peace of mind granted by secure land tenure, on the acreage he was farming.
While successful in securing a patchwork of parcels scattered throughout North Monterey County, this setup proved inefficient for allocating labor and farming equipment and cut into Javier’s bottom line. In 2016 ALBA placed their 195 acre, Triple M Ranch property on the market. It seemed like the perfect answer to Javier’s business obstacles, and a poetic way to complete the full circle given he got his start through the ALBA program. Several organizations that had been working together to support Javier joined together to help him realize that vision. Kitchen Table Advisors worked with Javier directly to provide support in organizing the farm’s financial statements, while California FarmLink assembled a financing package to purchase the Triple M Ranch. The majority was a FarmLink mortgage loan, guaranteed in part by the USDA Farm Service Agency, and with a portion of FarmLink’s loan purchased by RSF Social FInance. It all came together and Javier closed on the Triple M property.
On the importance of collaboration within organizations that support small farmers, Javier explains: “I think it’s great that we have this group of partners that got together to help me buy my business. I’m really involved with [helping] them doing the workshops, and if I’m asked to go and speak in front of somebody and share my story, I’m always willing to do that because I want more Javiers to make their dream come true.”
Securing this new piece of land creates a launchpad for JSM Organic Farms’ future success. Within the next three to five years, Javier aims to shift 100% of production to his new property. He and Kitchen Table Advisors’ Business Advisor, David Mancera, project that this will in turn bring down overhead costs down and enable Javier to nearly double gross sales once he is able to farm the property at full capacity.
In addition to using his newly purchased land as an asset for growing his own business, Javier is following ALBA’s model and now leases to beginning, limited resource growers and mentors them on the challenges facing their own growing businesses. “Everybody talks about your legacy and what you want to do. I think what I want to do is share what I know with others.”
Wondering where to find JSM’s products?*
JSM Organics sells at farmers’ markets and to specialty grocery stores across the Bay Area, like the Fort Mason Farmers’ Market (Sundays) and Bi-Rite Market.
*Markets and sales channels can change throughout the year and over time. Please refer to the JSM Organics' website for the most up-to-date information.