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Daily Harvest Supports Underserved Farmers to Help Build a More Regenerative Food System

Daily Harvest, the company on a mission to make it easier to eat more sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables, announced the first round of grants in partnership with American Farmland Trust (AFT) and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). The grants are one pillar of the multi-year partnership supporting historically underserved farmers in California'sCentral Valley and Central Coast.

The funding helps grantees scale their operations, expand organic acreage and increase the availability of sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables. The 12 farmers all identify as Latino and 50% are women. They grow berries, vegetables, and greens on 50 acres of farmland or less.

Nearly half of America's fruits, vegetables and nuts are grown in California, a state that remains at the forefront of the climate crisis. More than 12 percent of California farmers and 97 percent of farmworkers in California are Latino, yet only three percent own farms. And just 30 percent of California farm workers are women.

Historically underserved farming communities often lack access to the same resources as their peers on account of their race or gender. These disadvantages are compounded by the other cost, time and information barriers associated with organic and regenerative farming. Daily Harvest, CCOF, AFT, and other like-minded groups, such as Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants, are working to close these gaps by offering farmers in this region grants up to $10,000 per year for three years to expand their organic farm acreage, implement soil health practices – like composting and cover crops – and scale their businesses.

"A more just and regenerative food system starts with the people who grow our food," said Rachel Drori, Founder and CEO of Daily Harvest. "This program aims to tackle systemic issues at the root by giving historically disadvantaged farmers in California's Central Valley and Central Coast the tools they need to expand their operations while scaling organic and regenerative approaches that benefit growers, consumers, and the planet."

"This program is committed to supporting farmers continuously over the three years of transition with grant funding, technical support and market access," said Jessy Beckett Parr, Chief Program Officer at CCOF. "Long-term partnership is what makes the implementation of regenerative practices on the road to organic transition successful."

"This program is supporting the economic and climate resilience of farmers and responding to their needs – and that means bundling financial, technical, and other supportive resources in a meaningful sustained way," said Tom Stein, AFT California's Regional Director.

This year's grantees include Elda Marissa Garcia, Royally Grown Organic Farm; Yadira Mendiola, The Queen of Vegetables Organic; Martin Avina Hernandez, Avina Organic Farms; Maria Narez, Narez Organic Vegetables; Domitila Tapia, Mimi's Organic Farm; Antonia Vega, Dulce Farms; Maria Romero, Ambrosio Organic Farm; Alejandro Salazar, Salazar Organic Farms; Carlos Gonzalez, Torres Organic Farms; Misael Morales, Chelito Organic Farms; Israel Martinez, Martinez Organic Farm; Raul Murillo, El Zenzontle Organic Farms.

Driven to organic agriculture by many factors, some of the grantees and their families believe they were sickened by synthetic pesticides before starting their own organic farms, including Misael Morales: "I fell in love with organic," he said. "It's very difficult, but it gets better because I believe in it." Morales, who is originally from Mexico, said he's struggled with regulatory hurdles: "The United States is very different, especially when you want to have the organic certificate… you need to train and be constantly educated."

Maria Narez, who farms organic radishes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, and fennel, shared that scaling acreage and buying her own equipment has been too expensive in the past. "The most difficult thing for me right now is financially my ability to expand," she said.

Domitila Tapia said she's proud to use organic practices. "It's better for us in the field cultivating so we're not absorbing those chemicals, and especially for those of us eating the produce… This funding really helps us because it takes a lot of money for all we do in agriculture and we have a lot of payments to make."

On October 12, Daily Harvest, AFT and CCOF will also host the first of a multi-year series of community events and mentorship programs in Santa Maria, California to provide technical support for additional farmers looking to expand their operations and learn more about organic and regenerative practices.

If you or someone you know might be interested in joining a technical assistance program, please contact Grant applications for 2023 will become available in December of 2022. Details on how to apply will be shared on CCOF's Education & Grants page.


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