STORIES: December 2010
Meet The Farmers:
Part of a Community
On December 4, 2010, Just Food hosted our 2nd biennial Farmer Summit at the Pfeiffer Center in Chestnut Ridge, NY. Fifty participants, representing more than 20 farms in Just Food’s network, took part in a full day of workshops and information sharing. The Farmer Summit is a wonderful opportunity for CSA and additional product farmers to come together, learn from each other, share resources, and help Just Food better understand how to meet the needs of small-scale, sustainable producers in our region.
Among the participants of this year’s Summit were Martín and Gaudencia Rodriguez, of MimoMex Farm. Martín credits three elements that have made the farm business possible and profitable: farmers’ markets, loans from the New Farmer Development Project* and Just Food’s CSA Network.
In 2004, Martín and Gaudencia started farming a few acres of land rented from Madura Farm in the rich Black Dirt region of Orange County Orange County, New York. In the first year, they grew all of their crops with two rakes and a shovel and watered all of their plants by hand. The owner of Madura Farm helped them by plowing and disking the land. They were able to bring the vegetables they grew to sell at Greenmarkets in NYC.
In 2005, Martín and Gaudencia moved to their own plot of land in Goshen, New York and MimoMex Farm was born. With their own farm Martín and Gaudencia were able to grow for CSA, and in 2009, they started working with the Sunset Park CSA, the Southside CSA (in South Williamsburg), and in 2010 added the Central Brooklyn CSA. Today, Martín and Gaudencia have expanded their production to 16-acres.
A Lifelong Connection to the Land
The name MimoMex combines the nickname of their oldest son Mimo with the family’s country of origin. Martín grew up on his family’s farm near the small town of Progresso in the state of Puebla, Mexico. His siblings Ana and Pedro now run their own farms in Goshen as well. Much of Martín’s agricultural knowledge comes from having grown up on his family’s farm. With five children, family and tradition is very important to Martín and Gaudencia. Staying true to the healthy agricultural practices that he grew up learning in Mexico, Martín has maintained the tradition by avoiding synthetic chemical pesticides or fertilizers on his farm here in New York.
The Importance of CSA to Sustained Production and a Strong Future
Martín and Gaudencia are always searching for ways to improve their farm and to grow more innovatively. They hope to purchase a disk and mower this winter, and 2012, they would like to invest in a walk-in cooler and refrigerated truck. Their pie-in-the-sky dream is to one day build a commercial kitchen where they can turn their fresh produce into traditional Mexican products such as salsas using family recipes.
Martín says receiving CSA payments as early as January is a major boost to the farm in being able to expand, make improvements and afford the routine costs of early season purchases. In the past two years of working with CSA, Martín has been able to purchase his first tractor – a major improvement to the farm that allows them to grow more food for New York City communities.
Martín says that he loves growing for CSA. “They support us a lot, the members,” he says. “And farmers need supporting.”
* The New Farmer Development Project (NFDP) is a project of GrowNYC that identifies, educates, and supports immigrants with agricultural experience by helping them become local farmers and establish small farms in the region.