Anthony Garcia believes community is the centerpiece to creating a vibrant, productive, and inclusive food system. That’s why he has embarked on an educational journey to learn a multifaceted and practical way of farming. Garcia first studied agricultural economics at Cornell and then decided he also wanted hands-on experiences to diversify his skill set. Beginning as an intern on a 5-acre organic farm, he has continued to expand his knowledge and educational goals to become a skilled and effective organic farmer–educator. “Gaining field-based organic agriculture experience through the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship program and acquiring technical knowledge through the Agricultural Power and Equipment Technician program at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College” have helped Garcia “develop as a well-rounded organic farmer” and has guided him “in crafting a strategy for an ‘organic working farm and training center.’” Garcia’s plan is to create a farming and training center for his community—a physical space to support existing organic farmers as well as to attract and train farmers new to organic.
During Garcia’s time in the field, he discovered another crucial component for creating a successful farm and community: tools and machines and the skills needed to run and fix them. “I felt like it was necessary, while working on farms, to also really focus on operating machinery, mechanics, welding; and it's been a transformation. [With mechanical knowledge] you will be able to understand what farm you want to set up, from small to medium to large. The equipment should match what you're doing to ultimately have the most efficient kind of farm.” Garcia is determined to create an organic farm that not only grows produce, livestock, and grains but also teaches people to understand the tools and machinery to create economically viable and healthy farms and communities.
After Garcia completes his apprenticeship, his goal is to start a community-focused “organic working farm and training center” for growing produce and sharing agricultural knowledge. “The impetus, for me, is community,” says Garcia. “Because for me, community is the highest standard. At the end of the day, nobody wants their water in the town polluted. The community wants to go down to the farm that has really nice soil that isn’t running off into the street. The community wants a beautiful farm; the community wants a farm that creates some of the best delicious vegetables. And for me, organic is completely tied to community.” By underscoring the importance of community on his farm, Garcia strives to teach the next generation of organic farmers how to grow, process, and sell produce and livestock, but also, importantly, how to use, fix, and adapt the tools necessary to increase productivity and profitability on farms. Using these means, Garcia aims to serve the organic community in a practical and constructive way.
Garcia was awarded a Future Organic Farmers grant in 2020 and was recently awarded a second grant for 2021 to continue his career in organic agriculture. Garcia is currently an apprentice with the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, focusing on organic methods, and he is also studying at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College to learn mechanics and welding. Following graduation, he plans to run his own community-based organic farm. The CCOF Foundation congratulates and wishes the best to Anthony Garcia during his upcoming studies in 2021!
Find out more about the Future Organic Farmers grant fund from CCOF on the Future Organic Farmers website now!