When You Give to CUESA, Who Benefits? Family Farmers | CUESA

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December 06, 2013

When You Give to CUESA, Who Benefits? Family Farmers

We are sometimes asked by our supporters where their funds go and who benefits when they donate to CUESA. In this season of giving, we’ve decided to answer this important question by profiling four recipients of your donations and CUESA’s work. In the first installment of this four-part series, we share the story of a family that has been able to grow their farm, thanks to the generosity of supporters like you.

For 20 years, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market has helped sustain the livelihoods of more than 100 farmers, food artisans, and restaurateurs. About 25% of our farmers rely on our markets for more than half of their farm revenue. In addition to providing opportunities in a world-class farmers market, CUESA also supports local farms and food businesses by amplifying their story through the CUESA e-letter and by offering scholarships that help them gain new skills and make their businesses more environmentally and economically sustainable.

Greg Massa and Raquel Krach of Massa Organics are one of the more recent success stories at the market. Greg, a fourth-generation farmer, and Raquel have constantly pushed the envelope to make their farm more sustainable, introducing almond orchards, pigs, and ducks to create a more diverse and robust farm ecosystem, while providing healthy food to our community.

When you give to CUESA, you are supporting dedicated farmers like Greg and Raquel and you helping create a food system that benefits family farmers, our community, and the earth. Greg writes:

Seven years ago, we embarked upon a mission to transform our family’s conventional commodity rice farm into something entirely new—a diversified, organic farm that markets grains directly to the consumer. This was no easy task, with many hurdles to overcome. Looking back, it’s easy to see how critical CUESA and the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market have been to our success.

The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market was our third market, after Chico and Davis. From the beginning, it was obvious that this market was different. The staff realized that a farmer selling rice direct to the consumer was a new and innovative approach, and they went out of their way to promote us. In our first few weeks, we were featured in their e-letter, appeared on local television and National Public Radio, and were written about in Bay Area newspapers. A year or so later, a CUESA board member and market regular, Peggy Knickerbocker, wrote a 13-page feature article about us in Saveur magazine. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market also gave us unprecedented exposure to chefs, leading to relationships with many Bay Area restaurants that now purchase significant quantities of rice from us.

We’ve also benefitted from CUESA’s farmer scholarships. CUESA sponsored us when we went to Slow Food International’s Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy, and gave us funds to send our market manager to the EcoFarm Conference last year. Both of these conferences were invaluable experiences that have led to positive changes at our farm. Most recently, CUESA endorsed our loan application with Kiva Zip, a nonprofit that allows entrepreneurs like us to access interest-free loans through crowd-funding. With CUESA’s help, our $4,700 loan was funded in just five days. This loan will help us purchase a biodiesel processor that will enable us to convert our crops into fuel for our tractors, helping to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

We are very appreciative of CUESA’s help over the years. It is clear to us that the progress we have made on our farm would have come much more slowly, or not at all, without CUESA’s help. The difference between CUESA and other organizations that run farmers markets is very distinct. Whereas other market associations simply host markets, the CUESA staff does their very best to ensure that our farm, and others like us, become more successful and sustainable. CUESA is an excellent organization that is most worthy of your support.

Greg Massa
Massa Organics

CUESA needs your support to help farmers like Greg and Raquel. Make a tax-deductible donation today.

Learn more about Massa Organics by visiting their new website or by subscribing to their e-letter. Photos courtesy of Massa Organics.

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 »