Grow the World You Want to See: Keep Farming Viable | CUESA

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December 04, 2015

Grow the World You Want to See: Keep Farming Viable

Like you, we at CUESA want to see a world nourished by fresh, healthy food, where family farms and independent food producers thrive. How does your donation to CUESA help realize that vision? Throughout December, we’ll be sharing real stories from our community that show the impact of your donations to CUESA.

Tory and Rebecca Torosian of Tory Farms have sold their juicy stone fruit, bright citrus, and delectable grapes in our markets for over a decade. A true family business, Tory Farms is run by the couple and their two sons, Tory Jr. and Sarkis, with two full-time field workers.

In a business where the risks are high and the profit margins low, being a part of CUESA’s farmers markets has helped the Torosians keep doing what they love. They could not perform the invaluable service of growing food for our community without your support. We recently spoke with Rebecca about what CUESA has meant to her and her family.

More Than Just a Farmers Market

I remember the 1993 newspaper article announcing the opening of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Back then, Tory and I were trying to figure out if farmers markets were what we wanted to do, so I made the trip up to San Francisco, and I loved what I saw. It was the market we wanted to pursue, but there was a long wait list. In 2004, we finally got in to CUESA’s Thursday market, and in 2006 joined the Saturday market after another fruit farmer retired. We’ve been there ever since!

We have since dropped all other farmers markets we used to do because CUESA has supported us beyond just the farmers market. Their marketing help and education opportunities are key in our book. They allow us to reach a wider group of customers and restaurants by presenting lots of opportunities for us to showcase our fruit at special events (and that’s huge), in the weekly newsletter, and on the website. It’s fabulous.

We’ve found that other markets were not interested in education, and that’s where CUESA stands out for us. CUESA educates not just adults on food and where it comes from, but also the kids, who are the future of the marketplace. It is so important to establish that real connection between the farmer and the customer from a young age, so youth grow up understanding the role of farmers in the food chain. CUESA works to make these connections happen.

A Family Tradition

I remember when our own kids were growing up at the farmers market. When Tory Jr. was little, he wanted to go with me every weekend to the market. I’d say, “Honey, I can’t really watch you,” but he had a way about him where he would go through the market and barter with all the different vendors with sticks and stones. He would come back with all these goodies—everyone loved him! I would say to myself, “What a natural!”

My younger son, Sarkis, is now a senior at Fresno State, working on a double major in viticulture and enology. And Tory Jr., who we call “Mister Traveler,” wants to do more work outside the industry and eventually come home to the farm. We hope the boys can continue to work the farm with us. We’d like them to keep working at the market, though Tory and I plan to work as long as we can. The goal is to eventually roll some of those responsibilities over to the kids. They will find that it’s not easy to farm right now, but we’re trying to instill in them the importance of being part of a community that supports you.

CUESA offers a huge community. We have made so many friends and met so many customers. It’s unbelievable. I tell our kids, “Number one, we need to maintain our income, but we also need to keep up our presence at the market.” The farmers market is a place for our friends and family to go and touch base with us.

CUESA is an amazing organization that has supported us in so many different ways. We’re just proud to call it our home and our family.

Rebecca Torosian
Tory Farms

CUESA needs your help to keep farming viable for farmers like Rebecca, Tory, Tory Jr. and Sarkis. Make a tax-deductible donation today.

About CUESA

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) is dedicated to growing thriving communities through the power and joy of local food. Learn More »