California's Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) is helping create economic opportunities for low-income farm workers and limited-resource aspiring farmers through land-based education. Their Rural Development Center (RDC), founded in 1985, is a 100-acre training facility in the heart of the Salinas Valley. RDC programs help participants:
- Develop skills to advance their careers in agriculture and farm business
- Establish and grow new organic farms
- Market their organic produce
ALBA hopes to develop tomorrow’s leaders in sustainable agriculture, create greater economic opportunities for small organic farmers, promote ecological land management and increase the availability of healthy local foods.
The Simply Organic Giving Fund's donation of $7,250 supports ALBA's Farmer Education and Enterprise Development (FEED) Program. FEED has three main components:
- The Farmer Education Course (PEPA for the Spanish Programa Educativo para Pequeños Agricultores) is a one-year, bilingual, 300-hour curriculum featuring classroom instruction and field-based training that prepares participants to launch an organic farm business.
- The Organic Farm Incubator allows course PEPA graduates to launch their farm on ALBA’s land. Starting at 1/2 acre, farmers gradually scale up to 5 acres under ALBA’s supervision before transitioning to fully independent farming.
- ALBA Organics markets and ships participants’ products to markets around California, giving farmers access to clients that would otherwise be out of reach and allowing them to focus on agriculture and business management during their initial years farming.
In addition to farmer training, ALBA has general educational programs. Onsite organic farm visits, for example, give kids opportunities to interact with farmers and learn about sustainable farming and ecological land management practices.