A local nonprofit aimed at empowering the Latino community has received a nearly half-million dollar grant to help increase sustainable agricultural programs for farmers of color.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s $400,000 grant to Forest Grove-based Adelante Mujeres will help educate and empower aspiring farmers of color and those already doing sustainable agriculture.

Adelante Mujeres is a nonprofit organization that supports Latina women and their families through education, enterprise and leadership training.

Alejando Tecum is teaching during the first annual Dia del Agricultor Latino, a full day of workshops for aspiring Latinx farmers. 

Alejando Tecum is teaching during the first annual Dia del Agricultor Latino, a full day of workshops for aspiring Latinx farmers. 

Courtesy of Adelante Mujures

The Agriculture Department grant will allow six organizations across the state to continue working towards the long-term goal of increasing sustainability of first and second generation farmers. Socially disadvantaged new and beginning farmers of color will have access to sustainable agricultural courses, one on one business coaching, technical assistance, internships and farm networks. 

“For the Sustainable Agriculture program of Adelante Mujeres, this work is important because we will be able to train and educate more Latino farmers to become successful farm owners,” Adelante Mujeres’ Sustainable Agriculture Education Manager Alejandro Tecum said.

“It also will help us to teach them regenerative techniques which, when applied, will protect the health of farmers, their families, and the planet Earth.”

The farmers will also receive access to local farmers markets and cooperatives.

“It will allow us to keep working with our participants and now we are going to expand it with our other partner organizations,” said Tecum.

Tecum’s Sustainable Agriculture courses are presented in Spanish and teach farmers regenerative methods and techniques to grow healthy, clean and abundant vegetables. The course also covers topics like gardening, soil biology, irrigation systems, weeds and pest and disease management.

Washington County has the highest percentage of Latinos in Oregon. The population has nearly doubled since 2000. This demographic trend has contributed to an increase in Oregon’s number farms owned by people of color, which make up 3% of the state’s total.

“Working hard and providing for our families are fundamental values to Oregon’s agriculture families, regardless of where we come from or the color of our skin,” Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley said. “This grant will support Adelante Mujeres’ incredible work investing in people of color who want to start their own farm.”

The project will be overseen by the Western Oregon’s Sustainable Agriculture Collaborative which includes Adelante Mujeres, Rogue Farms Corps, Huerto de la Familia, The Next Door, Our Table Cooperative and Zenger Farms.