Why Danny and Andrew Need You
December 14, 2017
You believe in supporting farmers who nourish the health of the soil and our planet, while bringing nutritious food to our tables. Yet the next generation of sustainable farmers face significant barriers, from lack of access to land, capital, and markets, to an unpredictable climate future.
As the average age of a farmer in the US is 58, we need new farmers entering the profession more than ever. By donating to CUESA, you give them a fighting chance as they build their farming business, and weather the challenges ahead.
Today we want you to meet Danny Lazzarini and Andrew Seidman of The Peach Jamboree (also known as Woodleaf Farm), who sell at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in the summer months. After purchasing a thriving organic fruit orchard from retiring farmers Carl Rosato and Helen Attowe in 2015, Andrew and Danny had big hopes on the horizon. All of that changed when fires swept through Butte County last July, destroying their home and vital farm infrastructure.
But not all hope was lost: most of their peach trees were spared. In the daunting months ahead, Danny and Andrew brought their delicious organic peaches to the farmers market, and the market community kept them going as they began to rebuild their dream. They recently shared how much your support has given them the strength to keep farming.
Please read this, and see how much you matter in this movement to make agriculture healthy for people and planet. From Danny and Andrew:
Pursuing a Dream
Neither of us grew up with a farming background, but we were drawn to agriculture and organic farming because we are passionate about growing food on a small scale. It’s apparent that every community needs more farmers who are dedicated to growing healthy fresh foods in a responsible way. We believe this is an essential part to a vibrant community, and we can’t think of a more important and noble thing to do.
After cutting our teeth working on an organic farm for more than a decade, we felt it was time for us to start our own. When we found out that Woodleaf Farm was being sold by its current owners, everything fell into place. A huge part of why we felt comfortable buying Woodleaf was because the farm was up and running, and already had places to sell the product. We knew that farmers markets like CUESA’s would be backing us and wanted us to succeed.
When we came to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on our first Saturday, it was clear that CUESA had fostered a lot of education with their customers. They had introduced us in the newsletter and explained the transition, so people were excited to see us and had lots of questions. Shoppers were immediately supportive and so thankful that they were still going to get their peaches.
When the fire hit us in July, we evacuated and grabbed just a few things. When we came back in the morning, everything was gone: our home, employee housing, packing shed, storage cooler for our peaches, farm tools, farmers markets equipment, you name it.
It was a miracle that the orchard was spared. About 10 percent of the trees were damaged, but the lush living mulch system had helped to protect the orchards. It was an amazing break because the orchards are our livelihood. Buildings can be rebuilt, but it takes a long time to grow a healthy orchard again.
Our immediate thought was, “Can we keep this going?” We went straight to work trying to get irrigation flowing and infrastructure set up. We had no landline, no internet, no power, no water, no connection to the outside world for an entire three weeks post-fire.
A friend set up a fundraising page on her own to help us get back in the saddle with all of our personal things. We never posted it or told anybody about it, but our community showed up in such a huge, huge way. Farmers and friends came to the property with tools and supplies to help us clean up. And total strangers donated to us. It was—and still is— hard to accept that help. We were so grateful, in a humbling way, by what people were willing to do for us.
Week after week we showed up at the farmers markets. CUESA leant us tables and other equipment, and our customers were asking us what they could do to help. It was obvious that there was genuine concern and care for us. Even when we felt tired and wrecked and wanted to quit, the market community carried us along. Our customers kept telling us, “If anybody can do this, you guys can.”
Resiliency in Community
Since the beginning, we have felt absolute support from the CUESA community. We could not have kept going without that financial boost and emotional support of people rooting for us and giving us a nudge forward. That is essential to the viability of our farm.
Right now we have buildings to build. We’ve got big plans for how we’re going to reinvent the farm. That’s exciting for us, but it’s also overwhelming. We know we’re making progress, but every day is still a struggle.
What has become evident for us is that at the root of the organic farming and farmers market community is good people trying to do right in the world. In this time of so much hate and violence and disagreement and mistrust, that’s what feels right.
What keeps us going is knowing that this farm is so much bigger than the two of us. Collaboration and encouragement from other people is what we’re depending on right now. And because of that support, we’re giving this everything we’ve got.
Together, we are building a strong, local food shed that is connected, sustainable, and resilient in times of trouble. Support the next generation of farmers with gift to CUESA today.
Farm photos courtesy of Danny Lazzarini and Andrew Seidman.