Every day we are honored to work with the incredible individuals that make up Conscious Kitchen’s Organic Small Farmer Alliance as we strive to serve more fresh, local, organic, seasonal, nutritious food to K-12 students in the state of California. These farmers are pioneering a new future for themselves and their communities as they collaborate with us and find new ways to support direct organic farm-to-school procurement. Each an every one of them have unique stories and experiences that led them to organics, and to Conscious Kitchen – all of which we are endlessly grateful for.
Get to know more about these farmers and their inspiring stories below!
Farm Owner, Induchucuiti Organic Farm, Salinas
Celsa grows on 4 acres of land in Salinas, California as a 4th year agricultural student at the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA). Celsa grew up in the mountains of Mexico, where she lived off the land in harmony with the seasons, and immigrated to the US in 2006. As the owner of Induchucuiti Organic Farm, she uses techniques from her childhood to grow a variety of mixed vegetables, and is known for her herbs like parsley and cilantro. She is learning what it takes to manage an organic farm as she hopes to own farmland once she graduates from ALBA. For Celsa, family and culture come first. Her goal is to create more jobs for her community through her farm because she believes localizing the organic industry will further empower her Mexican-American community. As a single mother of four, Celsa understands the importance of all natural foods in school meals, and with her family cheering her on, she looks forward to entering the world of nutrition in schools.
Farm Owner, Mimi’s Organic Farms, Salinas
Domitila works with her husband, and two daughters to run their family business, Mimi’s Organic Farms, in Salinas, California. The Tapias are the second and third generation of agricultural workers in their family lineage. With Domitila’s family and agricultural history originating in Mexico, growing organic has always been the way. While the market can be more difficult for organic farmers than conventional, Domitila is ever-passionate about growing organically. She loves eating her strawberries straight off the vine without worrying about chemical residues. Quality is very important to Domitila, so she uses natural remedies to combat pests and mites that can damage the growth of her super sweet strawberries. Domitila’s daughter, Marlen is very proud and grateful for all her parents have done for her and her sister.
Farm Owner, Alfa y Omega Organic Farm, Salinas
Emilia is a first-year agricultural student at the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) and she grows her produce on their farmlands located in Salinas, California. With previous experience as a conventional produce picker, Emilia saw the detrimental effects of toxic chemicals in her own life. She felt challenged by the extra precautions needed to protect her and her loved ones after a day working in the fields. Since then, Emilia has done her best to create a healthy work environment on her own farm. Emilia’s story is truly inspiring as she takes on many different roles in her day to day; mother, farmer, picker, tortilla maker, and English student. She works hard to grow various vegetables such as dinosaur kale, rainbow chard, and romaine lettuce, and she’s excited to add organic cilantro to the list in the upcoming months. With Coke Farms being her largest buyer at the moment, Emilia is excited to work with Conscious Kitchen to broaden her marketplace access to local school districts.
Farm Owner, ALD & Y Organic Farm, Salinas
Guillermo grew up in Mexico where his father practiced regenerative agriculture without even knowing such a label existed. Since the start of his own business, ALD&Y Organic Farm, in 2017, Guillermo has practiced organic farming with the goal of using his generational knowledge to feed his local community. With a 5 acre farm outside of Salinas, CA and 6 acres in Chualar, Guillermo has kept busy and has faced several challenges in running his business. In light of the hardships that come with organic farming, Guillermo reminds himself that “people need to be allowed to buy organic, it’s not about the money, it’s about how you care for yourself.” Guillermo’s most powerful message is his belief in supporting his community, especially the youth.
Owner/Farmer, Hikari Farms, Watsonville & Doctor at Watsonville Community Hospital
Janet built a successful career as a doctor treating patients with heart attacks, strokes, and other serious illnesses. After seeing how patients were sometimes harmed by medical errors, she got deeply involved in improving hospital systems to deliver safer care and led many national quality and safety initiatives. At the peak of her medical career, she was unexpectedly called back to her family farm to help wind down the company and lease the farm out. She planned on being away for a few months, and 8 years later, she is still there. She is still a doctor, but sees patients only one day a week. On all the other days, she is practicing Preventative Medicine on the farm. By providing fresh, beautiful, organic vegetables and fruits that taste delicious, she is helping people lead healthier lives – including the students of WCCUSD.
Farm Owner, JSM Organics, Royal Oaks
Javier moved to the U.S. at the age of 20 after growing up on his family’s farm in Mexico. He founded JSM Organics in 2012 with the dream to own land, farm organically, support his family, and provide sustainable food for his community, and has been growing organic produce ever since. Known for their incredible berries, JSM Organics also grows a variety of vegetables and flowers that have become farmers market favorites around the Bay Area. Javier is a strong advocate for beginning farmers and federal conservation programs as he sits on the Boards of ALBA, Ecological Farming Association, and Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, while also a member of the USDA’s Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.
Farm Owner, Green Diamond Organic Farm, Salinas
Marcos of Green Diamond Organic Farm is a loving father and husband to his family in Mexico, where he lived before coming to California 9 years ago. While he misses his family dearly, he loves working hard in organic agriculture in a way that supports them and the land. As a first-year agricultural student at Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA), Marcos grows his organic produce on ALBA’s farmland in Salinas, California. When he was a young boy growing up in Mexico, Marcos worked with his father on agricultural lands, so he is proud to continue his family’s legacy as he works on his own organic farm here in the United States. He grows various vegetables including romaine lettuce, dinosaur kale, green kale, tomatoes, broccoli and celery. Marcos is passionate about growing organic produce, without toxic chemicals, so that his community can have healthy, long-lasting lives.
Farm Owner, Catalan Farms, Hollister
Maria is the owner of a small organic farm, Catalan Farms, in Hollister, CA. She moved to Salinas Valley, California when she was 25 years old with her four children to work as a field laborer for large-scale vegetable farms. In 1994, Maria was invited to join a 6-year organic farm training program at the Rural Development Center in Salinas and went on to become the first Latina migrant field worker to become a small organic farm owner at the national level. She has also worked with the non-profit PODER (People Organizing to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights) and founded her own non-profit, Pequeños Agricultores en California (PAC), to help migrant farmers acquire their organic certification and assist farmers when applying for grants and loans for owning their own land. Maria was awarded national recognition from the USDA for her organic farm and community outreach programs.
Farmer/Owner, Narci Organics, San Juan Bautista
Maria was born in Guerrero, Mexico and at a young age immigrated to the United States looking for a better future. She has been around agriculture since she was a child and spent 20 years as a farmworker mainly as a strawberry picker. In 2016, she decided to start her own business in organic farming. Maria made the decision because she was starting to have a lot of health issues due to intensive labor and exposure to harmful chemicals in conventional agriculture. “I am very happy I made the change and very proud of how much I have been able to accomplish.” She currently has a farm in San Juan Bautista that grows a wide variety of vegetables and fruits on 8.5 acres. Fun Fact: “I named my business after my mother, who passed away when I was a child. Her name was Narcisa and Narci was her nickname.”
Farm Owner, Bucio Organic Farm, Salinas
As the first farmer in his family, Rigoberto is the owner of Bucio Organic Farms in Salinas, CA. Ribogerto’s journey as an organic farmer began working with Agriculture & Land-Based training Association (ALBA) where he started to learn about and understand the dangers of synthetic chemicals as well as the issues in his local food systems. As Rigoberto’s business has grown over the years, he’s found that he himself has grown as a person first, and as a farmer second, taking pride in his role as a father. He believes organic farming is much like a soccer team; farming and maintaining our food systems requires everyone to play their part. Rigoberto plays an integral role on the team as farming organically maintains the health and integrity of our land and air, as well as nourishes consumers with nutritious food.
Farm Owner, The Queen of Vegetables Organic Farm, Royal Oaks
Yadira owns and operates The Queen of Vegetables Organic Farm – appropriately named after herself as the only woman in her family. She developed a passion for organic after going through the Agriculture & Land-Based training Association (ALBA) education program, and she was really able to see the difference between conventional and organic farming after tending to her first half acre of organic land. This crucial experience led her to quit conventional farming altogether and pursue a career in organic farming. Despite the challenges associated with organic growing, Yadira believes that providing her community, including her 3 sons, with pesticide-free produce is worth it. In addition to owning her own business, she is also Conscious Kitchen’s Farm to School Liaison in the Central Coast region. Yadira’s biggest aspiration is to keep her community happy and healthy, and she continues to strive towards this through her role as a small organic farmer.
Farm Administrator, Narci Organic Farms, San Juan Bautista
Yesenia was born and raised in Salinas, California. Her 3-year-old daughter is her motivation. She graduated from Fresno State and achieved a BS in Agriculture Business. She works with and supports her mother, Maria, owner of Narci Organic Farms and has since day one. In 2021 she joined the family business full-time assisting in the business with everything from harvesting to communication with customers.
Founder and Owner, Frog Hollow Farm, Brentwood
Farmer Al has been farming stone fruit in Brentwood, CA since 1976. He began farming organically in the early 80’s because of a commitment he wanted to make to the soil, water and community– stewarding the land with care and treading lightly, to foster healthy communities and ecology, while supporting the people who work the land. Throughout his farming career, Farmer Al has been a vigorous advocate for sustainable land use, conservation, and organic farming practices.
Farm Owner, Nana Mae’s Organics, Sebastopol
Born and raised in San Francisco, Paul graduated from UC Berkeley in 1977 and began his career as an engineer for the US Geological Survey. He left that career to become a farmer when he purchased an apple farm in 1979 – now known as Nana Mae’s Organics. Paul is the original Sonoma County dry farm organic appleman, creating the first commercially available organic frozen fruit bars, organic applesauce, and organic apple cider vinegar. They farm over 200 acres of certified organic apples and pears in Sonoma County, and 65 acres of Forest Stewardship Council certified non-industrial timber management land in Mendocino County.
Conscious Kitchen advances climate-smart school food based on five foundational values: fresh, local, organic, seasonal, nutritious. We believe that school-supported agriculture s a powerful tool to address climate change and model climate action to promote human and environmental health.