Futuro en Ag (English)
In-person Training to Online Courses to Resources All Spanish-First
Gabino Bautista, a beginner farmer from the Hudson Valley region, attends monthly classes as part of the Futuro en Ag project, receiving weekly lessons and encouragement, while learning to establish a farm financial record keeping system. Gabino, like all farmers, works hard to grow his farm business, producing vegetables and caring for laying hens. He saves money from a landscaping job which he invests in the farm business. Together with his wife, Teresa Trujillo, Gabino raises the farm and three young children side-by-side, with the shared goal to have a financially balanced family, farm, and life. He wants to learn how to think as a manager and agricultural entrepreneur, to develop the skills to turn his farm and his family’s effort into a successful business. Gabino is one member of a group of 18 New York State farmers who receive monthly farm financial education through the Cornell Small Farms course “Capacitación en español: Conociendo las Finanzas de su Finca” (Getting to know your Farm Finances).
New York State is home to a population of 19.7 million individuals, of which 17.3% (3.41 million) are of Hispanic origin, placing the state in the top ten highest Hispanic populations nationwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (2019). In March 2022, as part of our Futuro Financiero Course, we met with a group of 15 Latinx farmers to learn about their priorities, needs, and barriers to achieving their farming goals. There was a clear desire to share experiences and learn from within their community. The group expressed interest in sharing best practices on farming in NYS and motivating aspiring and existing Latino farmers and farm employees, who are not yet encouraged to start an agricultural career due to a lack of access to information in Spanish. They were also interested in ag training tools and resources. This group of Latinx farmers consistently mentioned the need to voice and exchange ideas, learn from others, tell their stories, and gain access to resources. This meaningful and sincere farmer focus group led to our pilot program “Juntos Aprendemos,” which aims to create farming networks with the purpose of educating and reinforcing financial management practices, while motivating Latino farmers and farm employees to develop successful farm businesses and Ag careers.
The enthusiasm of the Latinx farmers we have had the pleasure to meet over the past few years has been contagious. These relationships have led to the establishment of the Futuro en Ag project, home to the Juntos Aprendemos and Futuro Financiero courses, as well as the development the farm financials course Gabino is currently enrolled in. Gabino and the other 17 Latinx farmers are learning to apply and develop their own farm financial systems to support the process of making good farm business decisions. Across New York State, Latinx farmers are collecting, organizing, and recording financial transactions (expenses, income, and others) on a weekly basis. They meet regularly with course facilitators, Mildred Alvarado and Miguel Saviroff, to tailor their financial systems and master Microsoft Excel. They are encouraged to ask questions and voice their finance concerns. As each farm participant shares their experiences and practices, all participants take into account the nuance that exists in every farm and the importance of understanding the same financial principles will apply in each unique financial record keeping system.
As a project, Futuro en Ag supports Latinx Farmers in gaining access to Spanish-first information and appropriate educational tools to achieve their goals and minimize risk. In contribution to the goals voiced during the WNY Latino Farmer Focus group the Futuro en Ag team, in collaboration with our partners, has planned the following activities for summer 2022.
- Spanish-First Field Day for the Latino Community in Western New York was held on June 17 at the Cornell Cooperative Extension office in Orleans County in coordination with the Lake Ontario Fruit Program, the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, and the Cornell Small Farm Business Program. Farmers, farm employees, and all participants had the opportunity to learn Best Pest Management Practices, Fruit Cultural Practices, and Business Management Practices for Developing Successful Farms.
- Futuro Financiero Course Finger Lakes Region Fall 2022 will center on promotion and recruitment in Yates County targeting Latinx farmers and key Spanish-first employees in the vineyard and vegetable sectors. We aim to recruit 15 potential students by October 2022 with the course launching during November 2022.
- Outreach in Suffolk County begins in July, with visits to grassroots organizations in coordination with the Suffolk County CCE office to promote the Futuro en Ag project and conduct a basic assessment of the needs of the Latino grower community of Long Island. We aim to collaborate with the Latinx community on the development of regionally-specific trainings and resources to improve farm management, financial skill and overall farm business success.
- Introducción a las Finanzas Agrícolas is a state-wide farm financial video series in Spanish to be housed on the recently launched Centro de Recursos para Fincas. The purpose of this video collection will be to allow farmers in any region access to the information needed to establish sound financial systems at both personal and farm business levels. Additionally, we are working on practical fact-sheets focused on Farm Financial Management, which will feature easy to understand graphic content at an introductory level.
Throughout the past year, we have interacted with a growing community of Latinx farmers who desire to improve their farm businesses and become successful NYS farmers. Graduates of the 2022 courses have inspired their friends and family members throughout Western and Eastern NY. As a collective community, we want to continue learning together. We encourage more Latinx Farmers to join the Juntos Aprendemos Community, and increase the pool of knowledge, stories, challenges, dreams, hopes and successes. More farmer voices will enhance the learning potential for all. As members of the Futuro en Ag community, every time we meet more Latinx farmers, we confirm that we are people full of talents and honesty, with a desire to learn. We hold unique qualities and skills that make our community a versatile, flexible and adaptable community.
We, the Futuro en Ag and Latinx community as a whole, should be proud of who we are, of what we have achieved, and continue to strive for success. The journey is not easy, but with clear goals and support from each other, as well as service providers and community organizations; we can see a successful future for a generation of Latinx farmers. Working together, with farmers of every identity, we grow safe and nutritious produce. Together, we are proud to be New York State farmers.