How Funding Latino Farmers is Healing Monterey County
Abraham Garcia was 14 years old when his mother, Marissa, brought him to pick raspberries in the fields in Salinas after the 2008 financial crisis had devastated their family-owned restaurant. The pay was hardly enough for food, but like other farmworkers, she had no other option to feed her children. Plus, she didn’t want to lose Abraham — as she had lost his father — to gangs and drugs. At first, Abraham was miserable in the fields but while working at a fruit stand, he noticed that customers really enjoyed buying food directly from farmers. He decided to train to become a certified organic farmer. Speaking both Spanish and English, he realized he was in a position to serve his community. When COVID-19 hit, that proved even more true.
COVID-19 sent shockwaves through the California food system. With restaurants shuttered, small farmers lost many of their traditional sales channels. Nadia Rosen knew that families in shelters needed fresh food so she called Abraham to organize food from his farming community to feed hungry families. Abraham saw a way to turn this crisis into an opportunity by helping to support farms to stay financially afloat and to feed families in need simultaneously. Together they could create a new sales channel, direct to consumers.
From this collaboration Epic Farmshop was born. Nadia bought trucks and developed an online platform for consumers to order fresh produce delivery to their homes. She emailed the link to friends and family and received 98 orders, bringing in enough money to cover the cost of donating another 100 boxes to families in need. She put out the word, and the response was overwhelming, heartbreaking, and inspiring. People who received the donated boxes offered to deliver boxes to other families who couldn’t drive. Epic Farmshop partnered with other organizations to donate up to 3,000 boxes a week to families.
As a part of its COVID-related food relief program, Growing the Table partnered with Epic Farmshop to facilitate emergency food distribution. Thanks to generous donors, we have provided over $50,000 to support Epic’s network of 20 small farms in Monterey County whose demand channels had been reduced greatly by the pandemic.
This partnership sourced over 33,000 lbs of produce from Black, Brown, Indigenous, other people of color, and women farmers for the Food Bank of Monterey County to distribute as 2,800 12-pound food boxes to families of farmworkers in Salinas. Nadia and Abraham believe a critical aspect to their work is paying small farmers their asking price, rather than the “take it or leave it” prices from wholesalers.
Supporting creative partnerships and small farms owned by women and people of color — like the ones Nadia and Abraham work with — is just one way Growing the Table is helping to build a more inclusive and resilient food system across California.
Abraham provided both an outlet for his farm community’s produce and food for farmworkers’ families.
Please donate to help him and other farmers feed the children of farmworkers in Monterey County.