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Farmers: Jorge Carmona
Location: Fleetwood, Pennsylvania
Native Country: Colombia
Acres farmed: 8 acres with 5 greenhouses
Years with NFDP: 6
Products: Vegetables, herbs, melons, eggs, honey, heirloom tomatoes
"The challenge isn't technology. The challenge is marketing, having a place for your products to go, and having a positive attitude about the work."
Click here to see video of Jorge and his farm!
Interview with Jorge Carmona, June 2011, by Susanne Stover
What did you do before you became a farmer? Before I made my living in agriculture, I worked as a massage therapist. In my country, I was a veterinarian.
What was your motivation for becoming a farmer in the United States? I saw an opportunity to have a life closer to nature, calmer, far from the big city, and a business opportunidty in something I enjoyed. Also, my job as a veterinarian connected me more to the country than other jobs. It's more interesting to me to work in the country, in contact with natur, than in a factory in the city.
In what way has your previous experience helped you in agriculture? Being familiar with country work, with nature, with agricultural production, and assessing food production for humanity.
In the beginning as an NFDP farmer, what was the experience, tool or advice that helped you the most? The training course, La Nueva Siembra. If I hadn't taken that course, I wouldn't have started.
If you could go back and do over that first year of being an NFDP farmer, what would you change, or what do you do differently? I would get more marketing training, and I would learn more about the market I would be going to. Because you don't know the needs and habits of the people in that particular market.
Which benefit from being part of NFDP would you say has been the most important for you? The formative part, the academic part, through the courses, the help with markets and the loans.
Who helps you on the farm? My sister and her boyfriend, and my brother and his wife. They help me clean, plant and harvest. My sister-in-law and my brother also help me with selling at markets.
Do you have plans to expand your business? For the moment, no. We're going to wait and see if we can involve the entire family to make the business larger, but not right now, because we'd need a larger piece of land, more markets, etc. Maybe in the future, yes, but not this year, no.
Whats the best part of being a farmer, in your experience? That it gives me peace, it provides a certain security and a satisfaction as well.
What do you consider the greatest challenge or obstacle in agriculture? There are a lot of things, but mainly the marketing, and the changing weather, because in the last 3 years it's been very unpredictable. Also, the cost of production.
What keeps your customers coming back to your market stand? The heirloom tomatoes, the honey and the eggs, as well as unconventional greens like verdolaga, callaloo and amaranth. I see that people like the quality of the eggs because they're free-range, and they like the raw honey.
What about your farm are you most proud of? Of not using pesticides and that we're a family business.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as a farmer? That you have to have patience, and have faith in what you do.
What advice would you give to a new farmer? Well, that they put their fears aside, and that starting is difficult but once you begin things start happening, and things get better.
What will your farm be like in ten years? Truthfully, in ten years I hope to be retired. The idea is to have family continue the business and maybe have our own land; that it continues being organic, and doesn't lose the connection with the community. Not that it becomse larger necessarily, because the larger businesses lose their social function and I think they're not too committed to the community, in my view.
What will be your next big investment in your farm? A small tractor to use for cultivation practices.