live / 2020
Huarache Farms: Building Transparent Cooperative Backyard Farms
With this funding, Huarache Farms will dramatically expand our current growing capacity. This will allow us to begin selling at three additional farmers’ markets and deliver food to a far greater portion of LA County. We will reinvest in our community through on-the-job education. Our training will enable new farmers to provide for themselves and their communities. The willingness and workforce is there; our ability to provide affordable and healthy food is limited only by our capacity to expand.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- County of Los Angeles
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- Sustaina Company
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
Sustaina is our partner and helps manage many elements of Huarache Farms operations. The app plans all work parties to accomplish all installation, maintenance, harvests, sales, and delivery. With our scalable seed to sale process visible, communities all over LA will see how productive their yards could be for their health and financial security. Our entry cost is pretty low. Sustaina will be able to help others actualize their backyard farm and produce abundance for their community! It will feel like playing a multiplayer video game while making money, growing sustainable food, and more fertile ecosystems. Grow food instead of lawns, have more fun, make and save more money, and get healthier!
What is the need you’re responding to?
According to the LA Food Bank 1 in 5 people live without any sense of food security. Locally grown, affordable, and healthy food is far too often the privilege of a particular population. While Huarache Farms has been a constant feature of the Atwater Farmers’ Market, our ability to bring healthy and affordable food is limited by our size. With a greater growing capacity we would be able to produce more food and meet the needs of a far larger population. Proximity is, more now than ever, a serious concern. Even without a pandemic limiting mobility, people can simply not always afford to travel to a market on one specific day, at one particular time. Our Community Supported Agriculture delivery system allows us to bring food from our backyard farms to those in need who wouldn’t have access otherwise. Huarache Farms is ready to expand to meet these needs. Our trained farmers are capable and excited to train new members and our capacity is limited by capital to expand.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
Huarache Farms currently has a base of land, farmers, and customers and is prepared to expand. Our cooperative structure provides clear processes for welcoming new community members, training them in sustainable farming while affording a career with a living salary. Each member is incentivized by a profit share based on their patronage. You get more than what you give!
Our coop already has a scalable seed-to-sale process in place. Weekly, our community of backyard farms and farmers harvests, replants, and delivers hundreds of pounds of fresh produce to neighbors. It costs $15,000 to produce a 1 acre vertical farm in materials and labor. Once established, a 1 acre farm will require 46 hours of weekly labor and produce about $2,000 of revenue.
The logistics of this farming operation is complex. However, by working with our partner, Sustaina, who is building the app to plan, delegate, and track every task in every farm.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
We directly impact 3 groups of people with careers, families with new farms, and community consumers! We will produce about 7 full time jobs from $100,000 of investment. These will be living wage jobs of 50k annual salary and include voting rights in the coop. Additionally, an estimated thirteen families will benefit from receiving farming infrastructure on their yard. They will have access to farming expertise, food, and 5% of the profit share; about $3,500 / Acre annually! We are currently in Sun Valley, Altadena, and Sierra Madre, but would expand to areas where money is a bigger barrier of entry. There will be an estimated 800 individuals in the community that will have fresh and veganic, locally grown produce available to them.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
Our measures of success have 3 categories: the biological, social, and economic.
Biologically Huarache Farms is dedicated to sustainability in all aspects of our production. We will farm 6.5 more acres in 13 backyard farms. We will install 1300 vertical growing towers and plant leafy greens, herbs, and veggies. Our techniques of drip irrigation are 10x more efficient than traditional agriculture and our polyculture diversity eliminates any need for pesticides. We aim for soil self-reliance through the installation of nearly three-hundred cubic feet of compost per acre. Our biological metrics include pounds of food produced, water consumed, soil produced, compost collected, customers served, markets serviced, food donated.
Socially, we are a community of passionate and talented farmers. We engage the community and share the collection of wisdom, land, and food. Each farm is an amazing place to host events, tours, learning, and any opportunity under the sun! We measure our social success through recording the number of new members involved, the people who show up at our events.
Huarache Farms is also a coop. Our business is governed by the farmers that grow. We are committed to keeping most of the money in our members’ hands and empower them to run their Coop of backyard farms.
Metrics: The hourly rate for farmers and work opportunities will all be visible in Sustaina. Votes in the Coop will be tracked at meetings.
Which of the live metrics will your submission impact?
- Access to healthy food
- Food insecurity
- Water-use efficiency
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to CREATE
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Access to the LA2050 community
- Host public events or gatherings
- Communications support