As Conscious Kitchen continues to honor, highlight and interview farmers, we chatted with Javier Zamora and learned about his incredible journey to owning a successful organic farm.
In 2012, Javier started JSM Organics with little more than an acre and a half of land and a mobile home. Now, 10 years later, he drives through the 200 acres of strawberry fields he owns reminiscing on his path to becoming an organic farmer and an inspiration to the communities he serves.
Javier grew up in a family of farmers in Mexico and learned the intricacies of growing organic crops from his father and brothers on their family farm. While conventional farming methods were available, natural fertilizers provided a cost-effective way to grow plants in place of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. From the very beginning, organic was the only way of farming Javier had ever known. He brought this knowledge with him when he came to America at age 20, but it wasn’t until the housing crisis in 2006 that he went back to school to get his GED and started working the land again as a fresh-cut flower grower.
During his time growing fresh flowers, Javier noted that it wasn’t easy to come home and say hi to his wife and kids because of the chemicals on his clothing. It sparked a desire to get back to his roots. He went on to transfer to Cabrillo College, where the head of the agriculture department took him under his wing and made him feel comfortable in a program of predominantly white students. The program emphasized organic farming and Javier discovered the process of becoming a certified organic farm with the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and a non-profit called Alba that would support him in starting his own organic farm.
Now, as a well-established organic farmer, Javier partners with Conscious Kitchen to provide organic produce to the West Contra Costa Unified School District. “The system has taken a long time for kids to be fed properly. I started selling to school districts. I wanted to bring my food, but I wanted to do more than that,” he says about how it feels to be growing food that will nourish the minds and bodies of many students.
Javier wants to provide not only produce, but also lessons about agriculture to students and teachers alike. He wants to share where food comes from to show both the importance of organic food and the beauty of healthy, sustainable growing.
Javier understands the significance of supporting small, local farms, as he knows the struggle of breaking into the agriculture industry himself. It’s important to equip small farms with the necessary tools to help their business succeed, since large companies tend to stifle new farmers by relegating them to a small share of the market. Javier frequently and openly shares his knowledge of organic farming. Instead of viewing his fellow farmers as competition, he feels an innate inclination to guide others to success so they aren’t forced to go through the same unnecessary hoops that he went through.
Javier’s passion for organic produce is both inspiring and impactful. By partnering with Conscious Kitchen, JSM Organics is bringing fresh, local, organic, seasonal, and nutritious produce into schools. “It’s just a beautiful thing. It makes me really happy that the kids are getting to eat some of our crops that we grow.” Javier is a leading provider at the forefront of expanding production of and knowledge around organic food in the Bay Area, and creating a healthier, more sustainable food system in schools and beyond.