It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to make someone’s day. I just told Sandra Higareda of Higareda Family Farm that there is a gorgeous, new photo of her husband, Paco, and her father-in-law up on the wall of the BriarPatch Food Coop. You should have heard the whoop on the other end of the line! “We’re on the wall?! Yahooooo! We made it!”
I told Sandra the news in the midst of a conversation we were having about why she and Paco decided to certify their farm organic. If you take a look at the remaining classes in the Sierra Harvest Ag Skills course, it becomes very clear that the farmers who grow our food need to master an enormous skill set. When there are so many things to accomplish in a day and so many roles to play- from director of marketing to CFO and soil scientist to HR manager – it is no wonder that many farmers decide not to go through with certification. Although intimidated by the process, Sandra and Paco decided to certify organic in order to continue and grow their sales to the BriarPatch. The BriarPatch is committed to being an all organic produce department and, while they give their local growers a lot of leeway, they also push those growers to eventually certify organic.
Sandra and Paco were inspired by the other growers who they saw selling regularly to the BriarPatch and had taken the leap to becoming certified Organic. As Sandra puts it, “We realized that [those other local farmers] were just regular people like us. If they could do it, so could we.” With the help of Sierra Harvest, Higareda Family Farm earned their Organic certification last season and haven’t looked back!
When asked what was the best part of being organic, Sandra responded, “It makes us feel that we can offer the hard work of our farm in a way that people recognize and value. It’s an accomplishment that says a lot about our farm.” After learning that she was “on the wall” at BriarPatch, she changed her answer slightly, “Being on the wall – that’s the best part of being an organic farm! I can’t wait to tell Paco, he’s not going to believe it!”
Written by Molly Nakahara
Director, Sierra Harvest Farm Institute