Pedro & Dayana Schambon founded My Father’s Farm (MFF) in November 2006. The farm is located on 52 acres in Seguin, Texas.
Originally, MFF was under the management of “Fundación Internacional La Casa de mi Padre,” a nonprofit organization in Colombia focused on building an orphanage for homeless children, complete with a school and organic self-sufficient farm.
Starting this orphanage and designing and building its on-site farm was an eye-opening experience for Pedro. He became passionate about organic farming. Today Pedro and Dayana are focused more than ever on being a sustainable operation and helping to build communities with wholesome foods. The farm’s unofficial slogan is “Our veggies don’t do drugs.” MFF currently produces vegetables and herbs for Urban Acres, Greenling, and Wheatsville Co-op, as well as many local restaurants in San Antonio, Houston, and Austin. In 2014, MFF started a CSA program through the San Antonio Farm to Work project, in conjunction with NCAT and the City of San Antonio Metropolitan Health District.
With such a diverse background, we asked Pedro how he began his farming career.
Pedro: After opening the orphanage in Colombia we realized that the homeless kids did not care about clothes. All they needed was love and food. So we start loving them and buying food until we got a farm up and running. At that point they started growing their own food.
Where does the name of your farm come from?
Pedro: It refers to our Heavenly Father. We don’t own the land; we just try the best we can to be stewards of it. He is the one who makes the veggies grow.
Why did you become a certified organic producer?
Pedro: From the very beginning I knew I wanted to be certified organic. We wanted to sell to the big grocery chains. But more importantly, organic agriculture for us is not really about the sales. It’s a way of life and we believe it’s the correct way to treat the land. For us it was an easy choice.
What’s the biggest challenge for obtaining organic certification?
Pedro: So much paperwork. Some of it is very useful but some is just a waste of time and money. We have been certified since 2008.
Do your workers help with the certification record keeping?
Pedro: Yes they do. We control the daily operation of it and all the inputs go through the management first.
How do you handle the paperwork requirements?
Pedro: We use daily work orders and computer software to help with requirements.
Where do you get most of your technical information like what fertilizer can you use, or what is no longer allowed?
Pedro: Through our certifier and the Organic Materials Review Institute web page.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the market for organic produce in Texas over the last 2-3 years?
Pedro: The market for organic produce continues to grow faster than we can keep up.
Who is that one customer that you have not been able to get just yet?
Dayana: The Hispanic customer.
What are you doing to try to get that customer?
Dayana: We are trying to educate them about the importance of local organic produce in a way that is honest and culturally appropriate.
And our favorite question to ask organic farmers…
If you knew then what you know now about being an organic producer, what would you have done different at the beginning of your organic business?
Pedro: Grow more. There is plenty of market for organic produce!
To learn more about Pedro & Dayana Schambon’s adventures at My Father’s Farm, visit http://www.myfathersfarm.org/. Visitation is by appointment only. You can also meet them at the Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio on Saturdays.
Contact them at: 830-822-0200 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Buratti is currently a board member of the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. She was previously a grant project manager for the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality and Education and Outreach Coordinator for Texas State University.