LFC 2018 Keynote Biography
This year’s keynote speakers are the owners of Rancho La Familia in Santa Maria, California. From humble beginnings, Virginia Cortez and Luis Guevara started with 15 acres of vegetables and strawberries. After years of selling to produce brokers they decided to try their first farmers’ market in 1979. Slowly, they began replacing brokers with more farmers markets, eventually reaching 14 farmers markets Tuesday through Sunday in the greater Los Angeles area, Santa Barbara, and Davis. Today all sales from their 50 acre operation are split between a few grocery stores and the farmers markets.
Although the farmers markets presented a nice increase in sales price, this marketing strategy was not without its challenges. Increased labor costs and fluctuations in income at some farmers markets ushered in a period of trial and error until the farming duo was able to find a mix that worked for them.
As diverse vegetable farmers concerned with sustainability, Luis and Virginia prepare for changes in agriculture they are already seeing. Market changes and increasing climate fluctuations have forced them to look carefully at the vegetable and fruit varieties they are planting and how they can adapt new technology to face these challenges. As stewards of the land, Luis and Virginia use cover crops, compost, and crop rotations as the primary tools for protecting the soil and caring for the land.
We are pleased to welcome Rancho la Familia as our keynote speakers at the 2018 Latino Farmer Conference this year!