Producer Profile: R&R Produce
The worst had happened: last year’s Tropical Storm Irene destroyed over 90% of Rogelio and Yesenia Bautista’s black dirt fields of glossy onions, jumbo carrots, and Mexican specialty herbs. This was the Bautista’s fourth year running their own farm, R & R Produce, which they started after taking the NFDP training course in 2008. The Bautistas were now seeing the down side of transitioning from farm workers to farm owners: with ownership comes risk. Adding to their stress was a 15-foot box truck that they had purchased that year to be able to bring more to their loyal Greenmarket customers. With monthly payments and no income—it seemed like an impossible situation.
As luck would have it, the wholesale Greenmarket was expanding and was in need of a delivery driver with a truck. Rogelio started making bi-weekly deliveries, picking up from the wholesale Greenmarket in the Bronx and delivering to schools in Brooklyn for the NYC Department of Education’s Garden to Café program. This provided the Bautistas with much-needed income that allowed them to keep their truck, but something more surprising and transformative happened: they found a new customer.
At the Wholesale Greenmarket, Rogelio had developed relationships with buyers and the Greenmarket Co. staff. He met Joe Orr from NY Naturals, a company that makes kale chips, via an introduction by Greenmarket Co. Joe was interested in finding a local farmer who could grow kale specifically for his products—Rogelio had been considering growing for the wholesale market because it would allow him more time on the farm to focus on production, instead of spending long days in the market, which he enjoyed less.
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