New hope gaining speed for building Hispanic farm businesses in Ohio


PAINESVILLE, Ohio — A collaboration of organizations, businesses and individuals is working to help Hispanic farmers start farm market businesses in Northeast Ohio.

Funding received

The project received grant funding this spring from the Ohio State University Center for Farmland Policy Innovation’s Farmland Protection Partnership Program, which was matched by the Ohio Department of Agriculture Rural Rehabilitation Program.
The program is a two-year pilot to demonstrate community-based agricultural economic development by helping 10 Hispanic families to develop successful farm to market businesses.

Farming background

There are 8,000 Hispanics in Lake and Ashtabula counties, many of whom are immigrants from rural Mexican communities with farming backgrounds.
This project will help to get a displaced culture back into agricultural enterprises in their adopted country and increase the supply of local produce that is available to local farmers markets, restaurants and grocery stores, including cultural varieties such a hot peppers, cilantro and tomatillos.
The collaboration of businesses and organizations are working with five families this first year utilizing a plot of land donated by Lake County Nursery. Potatoes, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, hot peppers, pinto, black & navy beans, purslane and cilantro are all growing.

Working together

The organizations and businesses will add five more families in the second year of the program and assist with further development of their businesses, including the creation of value-added products such as dried beans, dried peppers and salsas.

The first five families will implement a “pass it on” policy, whereby veterans of the program pass on their knowledge and seeds to the second year growers, thereby multiplying the impact of the program, and carrying on the work of the consultants.
Lake County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Western Reserve RC&D will continue to provide assistance to growers in locating farmland beyond the life of the grant and Western Reserve RC&D will share the lessons learned from the pilot program across the state and facilitate development of immigrant farming projects in other counties.

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