Lucia Schulz contributed to this blog. | Para la versión en español de esta historia, por favor oprima aqui.
Enriqueta Martinez can do it all—from creating artisan hammocks to designing wedding and quinceañera dresses to her current passion, farming.
Her agricultural life started in Mexico, where her parents taught her to farm. She lived in California and since moved to Nebraska, where Enriqueta and her family continue to farm today.
She grows several kinds of crops including beets, carrots, garlic, and onions, among others, and chose those vegetables for a reason.
“Store-bought vegetables look good, but they are not organic,” she said. “They are full of pesticides which are not easily removed after washing. I decided to plant those crops because the vegetables at the store do not taste as good as the ones we grow.”
Through the Center for Rural Affairs’ Latino Beginning Farmer Project, Enriqueta received one-on-one technical assistance from our experts to help her business and productivity.
For additional training, Enriqueta and her husband, Rogaciano, took part in three years of training at Community Crops, based in Lincoln, Nebraska, to learn more about the ins and outs of farming in this area. The couple also received assistance in finding their own land to farm on.
Now, Enriqueta and Rogaciano sell their vegetables at a farmers market, Southeast Community College, and at a local church.
The couple keeps things simple by only using a few pieces of larger equipment on their farm. They bought two big tillers and one small tiller to use, aside from the other small equipment necessary to keep the farm running.
Enriqueta says it has been a learning process, but the results make it worthwhile.
“At first, it was difficult for me because I had never used farming equipment,” said Enriqueta. “It took me about three years to feel comfortable using them, and now my confidence is higher. I have no problems using our tools to get the job done.”
She also feels farming is necessary to keep her family healthy, and urges others to try growing their own food, too.
“I am glad we are farming, because my belief is I would not be alive if I was consuming pesticide-laden foods,” she said. “My advice is for all to consider farming not only for you but for the children. They would benefit from your example. The knowledge they would gain from learning how to farm would be beneficial for the current generation and generations to come.”
The Center for Rural Affairs’ Latino Beginning Farmer Project is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture - U.S. Department of Agriculture through the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. Services are offered in both English and Spanish.