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Organic Consumers Association

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Turning Farm Workers Into Farmers

In California, near immense industrial farms, small plots are rented out to field laborers so they can try to create their own farm businesses.

The Salinas Valley is known for its enormous industrial farms that grow produce like lettuce and broccoli. But just southeast of the city of Salinas, a patchwork of much smaller organic fruit and vegetable fields breaks the industrial sprawl.

Start-up farmers tend these fields morning, afternoon and night. When the sun sets, they pull out headlamps and cellphones to illuminate their rows of crops.

Reyna Manriquez is one of those farmers. The 24-year-old manages three-quarters of an acre here — her very first farm. She arrives in the late afternoon after harvesting strawberries for an agriculture company nearby.

Ms. Manriquez is a recent graduate of the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, referred to here as Alba, which trains aspiring farmers and rents this land to them for as little as $130 per quarter acre per year.

Pre-order Ronnie's New Book, Coming February 11

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