Agua Gorda Cooperative is the Recipient of Todd County’s Emerging Business Award
Monday, October 14, 2019
Agua Gorda Cooperative (Cooperative) is the recipient of the 2019 Todd County Emerging Business Award. The Cooperative provides a way for Latino farmers to acquire and work their own land, reaping the full benefits of their labor. The farmer/members of the Cooperative have created a sustainable business, and future for their families. We are pleased to acknowledge their entrepreneurial spirit and the results of their hard work by honoring them with the ‘Emerging Business’ award.
For Javier Garcia, co-owner of the Cooperative, this is the second award he has accepted in 2019, having also won the 2019 ‘Todd County Farm Family of the Year’ award. Of winning the awards, Javier said, “It feels good. I enjoy farming and growing vegetables. You learn something new every year to make it better.” And make it better they have. Agua Gorda Cooperative has continued to grow because of the high-quality produce being grown in their Long Prairie location.
The Cooperative became a legal entity in 2012, after receiving startup support from the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC). The Cooperative’s founding members had done farm work most of their lives, but operating their own business was a new experience. LEDC trained members in cooperative organization, business management and in the basics of raising organic produce. Initially, they farmed plots within Long Prairie’s community garden before expanding into the industrial park. Since then, Agua Gorda has continued to expanded operations, having purchased a tractor and other farm equipment that enables them to farm over 50 acres.
In the 2017 growing season, they greatly expanded their production, and put up several hoop houses to help extend their growing season. To ensure that they can grow vegetables year-round, they have installed several greenhouses as well. In addition, they have been certified for organic production and Good Agriculture Practice.
While their crop output has continued to climb, so has their sales. The Cooperative established a relationship with a Minneapolis restaurant and food wholesaler under which it supplies tomatillos and Serrano peppers. They also grow zucchini, watermelon, tomatillos, tomatoes and brussel sprouts that are sold locally, at the Minneapolis market, and through Shared Ground.
The farmers, Javier, Jose, and Rafa, have been growing produce in Long Prairie since 2012 and have demonstrated that there are many opportunities available to rural farmers who wish to work for themselves. All they needed was their own land and training on how to run the business side of the Cooperative. Once received, they have grown the Cooperative exponentially, with no signs of slowing down.
We encourage other farmers and entrepreneurs to consider the opportunities available to them in Todd County. This is a supportive community where it’s possible to thrive.