Greenhouses, inexpensive hoop houses and other burgeoning methods of organic production are helping people like Bustos produce a lot of food on small plots of land without a big investment. “They’re figuring out you don’t need 1,000 acres or even 100 acres,” Witte said. “You can do something pretty substantive on five acres.”
Experienced farmers like Bustos are also helping the next generation of growers succeed. About 14 years ago, Bustos launched a Farmer-to-Farmer program through the American Friends Service Committee. Prospective farmers learn everything from business planning to soil fertility. If they stay committed to farming, they go on to become trainers themselves.
“The idea was to teach people how to farm, how to pay their bills, how to feed their families and support their communities,” said Bustos, who in 2015 won the James Beard Foundation leadership award. “At the same time, we’re protecting our land and our water for future generations.”