California FarmLink connects independent farmers and ranchers to the land and financing they need for a sustainable future. These are farmers who would not otherwise have access to capital, as most commercial banks are not interested in small loans to farmers with non-traditional business models, language barriers or limited credit history.
Victor Cortes is one such farmer. After 20 years of farm work and more than a decade working on an organic strawberry farm, Victor found himself unemployed. He was ready to make a change, take a big leap and start his own farm. He turned to California FarmLink for support.
In 2013, California FarmLink gave Victor and his wife, Veronica, a $5,000 starter loan and assisted them with business planning. This support helped the couple launch their farm, La Granjita Orgánica, and pursue their dreams of working for themselves. In 2014 they received a second operating loan and an equipment loan for a combined total of $15,000.
Currently, Victor and Veronica work full-time on their farm, which has increased from one acre to two and a half acres. In 2016, they plan to expand their business by adding acreage, increasing strawberry production, purchasing their own tractor and building their credit. They will continue to work with California FarmLink, an organization that they say made the loan application process comfortable and personalized.
Farm Aid’s grant has helped California FarmLink extend its land and capital access services to more farmers. “Farm Aid has an inherent understanding of the importance of family farmers, and their value in creating a sustainable food system, healthy communities, and thriving local economies.”