Originally from Guatemala, farmer Porfirio Perez came to Big River Farms (BRF) over ten years ago with a lot of experience in agriculture and food processing. In Guatemala he grew coffee, corn, and beans, and was involved in the many steps of coffee production, including land prep; planting and caring for trees; and harvesting, washing, drying, processing, bagging, and bringing crops to market. “We were always working in the fields,” he says.
Porfirio hadn’t heard the term “organic” until he started farming at BRF, although he had farmed without chemicals in Guatemala. He values “comida saludable” – healthy food – and discovered through our education program that organic farming focuses on producing food that is good for the health of both people and planet.
BRF is also where Porfirio discovered that industrial agriculture is killing the earth, and that we ourselves can give life to it through organic farming. In Guatemala, Porfirio says the earth is dead because of an overuse of and reliance on chemical pesticides and herbicides. “If we plant things, we must take good care of the earth, so that the earth has strength and takes care of us. If we don’t, it will not produce anything,” he says.
Without his many years of experience at BRF, Porfirio doesn’t think he would be growing healthy food today. “For us, for immigrants, we’re working in the cities, and we can’t see any of the countryside. It’s not easy to enter farming here, to start a farm business. Big River Farms has helped many people discover how to get out of the city and gain access to farmland.”
Big River Farms has helped many people discover how to get out of the city and gain access to farmland.
“I have learned a lot from the instructors here,” he says, “starting with how to cultivate land organically, and in the process other things too, like how to bring produce to market. Me siento bien para estar trabajando con ellos – I feel good to be working with them.”
If you are a Big River Farms CSA Member, you have probably received some delicious sweet corn, green bell peppers, and spicy jalapenos that Porfirio has grown here. And if you’re lucky, you’ll soon receive some of his amazing dried black beans and pie pumpkins before the end of CSA season.