Nourishing Organic Transition

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Written by Adrian Fischer on Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Thanks to the generous support of our donors who believe in the environmental and social benefits organic farmers provide, we’ve added another eight inspiring farmers to our Organic Transition program, bringing our current roster up to twenty farmers. These small-scale farmers in California receive three years of $10,000 grant funding per year, technical assistance, mentorship opportunities, community building opportunities, and market access support to encourage their path to certified organic production. 

Direct, accessible financial assistance is instrumental to organic transition, in particular to smaller-scale, underserved farmers. This boost can make a big difference in expenses for things like adapting a tool, supplementing the payroll for added labor needed in organic, adding that extra bit of compost and building up soil life, covering the cost of organic production while selling as conventional until certification, keeping cover crop on a little longer, or planting additional beneficial attractor plants. All the current grantees are deeply passionate about organic and have been practicing organic methods for years; they just need that bit of help to make it across the finish line into certification and expanding organic acreage. 

This fund supports people like Misael Morales, who has shifted from being a farmworker to owning his own organic business. After years of working in conventional strawberries, Misael was desperate to go into organic for many reasons. He wanted to be able to get home after work and hug his children without concern for the chemicals on his clothes and to leave the fear that working in the field would risk his health. Misael wanted to feel confident that the food he grows is safe and healthy for him, his family, his consumers, and the environment. Simple acts like harvesting greens on the edges of the strawberry furrows became clear guiding signs for his dedicated path to organic. 

Misael tells us, “I am from the state of Hidalgo in Mexico. I was born there, and we grew up there. There are herbs … that nature provides, wild herbs that can be eaten and are very tasty. And once I was at work [in the United States at a conventional strawberry farm] harvesting, and I looked at a weed that was there and I said, ‘Well, this can be eaten.’  The supervisor came by and told me, ‘Hey boy, don't cut any of this. Throw away everything you have.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘There are chemicals here and you can get contaminated.’ And I said [to myself] ‘Yeah, but I just went through here to pick the strawberries, and those will go directly to the consumer. So that's all contradictory, right?’”

Our committed group of CCOF Foundation donors know that organic farmers provide essential ecosystem services and healthier food to us all, and they also know it’s tough to go the extra mile alone. The CCOF Foundation is grateful to our transition grant program partners the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), American Farmland Trust, California FarmLink, Kitchen Table Advisors, and other donors for believing in our farmers and bolstering their success!