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Meet Celsa Coronel, a 2020 Future Organic Farmers Grant Recipient

After 13 years of working in the fields processing lettuce, Celsa Coronel decided it was time for a change. While training for a position in an office setting, Coronel saw a presentation about ALBA, the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association and knew that a farming path was more aligned with her passions and interests: “When I saw this opportunity, and they explained to me how everything worked, I said, ‘That is right: Here you can give it your all because it’s for you, for your future, for your family, and to help people.’ And so, I changed [back] to agriculture, because that was for me.”1

After successfully completing the yearlong training program emphasizing both classroom and hands-on fieldwork, Coronel secured half an acre, where she has begun to put learning into action. Coronel grows various organic vegetables like celery and kale, but growing lettuce has been the most rewarding for the new farmer. “[After] entering the trainings and because I was a lettuce packer, I got excited when I heard them speak [about lettuces],” she says. “And then, I saw my own lettuces planted! This is the best thing I’ve done.”2 After years of working and processing lettuce on other people’s farms, Coronel now has an opportunity to become her own boss and produce organic food for her family and the community. “Now it’s more like, you watch how everything grows, you plant, you repair the soil, you watch the daily growth, and it’s beautiful.”3

Coronel’s goal is to continue expanding the operation every year, learning more at each stage. With support from ALBA, fellow graduates, and family at home, this goal feels possible to Coronel: “It is nice to have teammates and feel a good vibe, because we spend all day here, and well, it’s like a family too. You have a family at home and have another family here too, which is so nice. My children are so excited that I am doing this; they like it and support me. I know I am on the right path.”4

Coronel understands the benefits and rigors of farming, and with a grant from CCOF, training from ALBA, and support from her friends and family, Coronel is on a promising path to becoming a lifelong organic farmer.

Last year was the first time that the CCOF Foundation supported Celsa Coronel’s career in organic agriculture. Coronel plans to continue learning and growing organically, to graduate from the Organic Farm Incubator program, and to expand to a larger property with more acreage in the coming years. The CCOF Foundation congratulates and wishes the best to Celsa Coronel with the upcoming harvest in 2021!  

Find out more about the Future Organic Farmers grant fund from CCOF at the Future Organic Farmers website now!

All quotes translated from Spanish to English and edited for clarity and intent.

1“Cuando miré la oportunidad esta y me explicaron cómo estaba todo, dije, ‘Oh pues allí si, puedes dar más porque es para ti, es para tu futuro, para tu familia, para ayudarle a las personas,’ y dije, ‘Oh, y me cambié para la agricultura, porque esto era lo mío.’”

2“Yo hasta que mire mis lechugas sembradas, y entrar al entrenamiento, porque yo era lechuguera, y dije yo, oh, me emocione cuando estaba escuchando hablar. Es lo mejor que hice.”

3Ahora es más como tú miras como crecen, tú plantala, tú arreglas la tierra, y tú miras como van creciendo diariamente, y es bien bonito esto.”     

4“Es bonito tener compañeros y sentir una buena vibra aquí porque aquí nos pasa todo el día, y pues esta como una familia también. Tener una familia en la casa y luego tener otra familia aquí es bien bonito… mis hijos también se emocionan de mirar que yo estoy haciendo esto; les gusta, me apoyan…digo voy por buen camino.”