Organic romaine lettuce grows on one of the many incubator farms which is part of the ALBA program in Salinas, CA.
ALBA’s origins stretch back to 1972 when the property was purchased from the Bardin family, using funds from President Johnson’s ‘War on Poverty’. Though the property changed hands in its first 30 years, it was always used to create economic opportunity for limited-resource farmers. In the 1970s the land was used to start a farmworker-owned strawberry cooperative. Management challenges lead to a switch of format and leadership in the 1980s, training farmworkers on the land to help them transition to farm ownership. Shortly after the 1990 passage of the Organic Food Production Act in 1990, ALBA earn its own organic certification. Drawing on the experience of its predecessors, ALBA was finally established in 2001. Since then, ALBA has provided intensive, on-farm skills development to over 600 farmers, of whom over 200 launched a farm on our land and nearly 100 went on to farm independently. Hundreds more have leveraged new skills to secure better employment.
ALBA is located 10 miles south of downtown Salinas, in the heart of the valley, known as the “Salad Bowl to the World”. The farm is off the old stagecoach route, a mile down a dirt road with the Santa Lucia mountains looming in the distance. You’ll know you’ve arrived when the huge neighboring mono-crop fields tended by a farm manager on large machinery, give way to small, tree-lined plots managed by families cultivating an abundant array of berries, vegetables and herbs. On our 100-acre farm, ALBA hosts up to 40 start-up farms, most of which are owned by Mexican immigrant families. Ranging from as little as a quarter acre up to 5 acres, they all share a single irrigation well , farm equipment and produce wash station. ALBA’s hay-bale office and training center sits in the middle of the property with an equipment shed, farmhouse and the remains of an old barn nearby. Even though space is tight and moods get tense, hope for a better life through hard work and a love of farming triumphs all.
Ed Moncrief held the position of Executive Director and Vice President of Real Estate for Neighborhood Housing Services Silicon Valley, located in San Jose. He left that position in mid 2011, and now acts as a consultant to non-profit community organizations. He is a long-time resident of Salinas. His career reflects forty-five years of experience in the fields of non-profit housing, economic, and community development. In 2005, the National NeighborWorks Network’s recognized Mr. Moncrief as its “Practitioner of the Year”. Among his other accomplishments, he was the founding President and Executive Director of Community Housing Improvement Systems and Planning Association, Inc. CHISPA is a public benefit housing and community development corporation operating in Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. During his 15-year tenure with that organization, he obtained over one hundred eighty million dollars in construction and take-out financing to develop nearly one thousand units of low- and moderate-income housing.
Chairman Edward Moncrief
Dan Beck is an accomplished artist and musician, as well as the proprietor of Outhouse Studios in Salinas. He has been creating art as long as he can remember. Up until fairly recently he worked full time in the organic produce industry, yet continued to create and sell art work during this time. Dan was born in Indianapolis, IN. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College with a BA in Philosophy. His formal art education includes – Oil Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Lithography, and Art History. As an Organic Produce Industry Veteran, Dan has much knowledge and passion to contribute to ALBA. Dan joined the ALBA Board of Directors in March 2011.
Dan Beck Vice Chair
Bio coming soon…
Vince Fata Board Treasurer
Horacio has lived in the Salinas Valley since 1974. He is the general manager of the San Jerardo Housing Cooperative in rural Salinas, where he provides business leadership and services to its members. Previously he was production manager at Amezquita Farms, where he was in charge of 100 acres of strawberry and vegetable production in the Salinas Valley. His work history includes leadership in various farming and marketing cooperatives, including his family’s involvement in programs at the Rural Development Center starting in the mid-1970s. Horacio has associate degrees in agricultural business and art from Hartnell College, and is completing a bachelors degree in Agricultural Business Management at CSU Monterey Bay. In 2006, he received the Carla Bard Award for Water Advocacy from Public Officials for Water & Environmental Reform for clean water activism on behalf of disadvantaged communities. Horacio provides vital Salinas Valley production experience to help guide ALBA’s work on behalf of aspiring and beginning farmers.
Secretary Horacio Amezquita
Dr. Chris Hasegawa first arrived at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) just before the doors opened in 1995. He was hired as one of 18 founding faculty members. Moving through a succession of administrative roles, in Fall, 2008, Hasegawa was named Dean of Extended Education and International Programs.
Dr. Chris Hasegawa
Bio coming soon…
Cary is a real estate investor who lives in Carmel Valley, California. He was a founding partner of Hawthorn Realty Group in Chicago, a firm active in the ownership and development of industrial parks, shopping centers and office buildings. In 1985 he co-founded Huron Partners and Coastal Hotel Group, Inc., companies focused on the development and management of boutique resorts throughout the United States. Among the Huron/Coastal portfolios were the Highlands Inn, Carmel, California, The Hotel Jerome in Aspen, Colorado and the Cheeca Lodge in the Florida Keys.
He has previously served as President of the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Park, Chicago, Boy Scouts of America and as President of the Chicago Chapter of the Yale University Alumni Schools Committee. He has also been a member of the Yale University Development Board. Since moving to California in 1999 he has served on the boards of the International School of Monterey, California Coastal Rural Development Corporation and Neighborhood Housing Services of Silicon Valley.
Javier Zamora joined ALBA’s board in 2014 shortly after giving a rousing speech at our annual graduation ceremony. Javier, himself, completed our Farmer Education Course in 2012, launching JSM Organics on ALBA land in 2013. Starting on less than 2 acres of land while still studying at Cabrillo College, he is now farming 25-acres.
Patricia returned to ALBA in February of 2017. She has over 15 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, and has been serving beginning and limited resource farmers at ALBA for most of her career. As the daughter of immigrant farm workers and a lifetime resident of East Salinas, Patricia has a deep respect for the communities of color and the hard labor of farm workers. She is proud to lead ALBA as its Executive Director and to have the opportunity to help those in her community achieve their dream of farm ownership. Patricia is a member of the CA BIPOC Farmer/Land Steward Relief Fund Collaborative, CA Farmer Justice Collaborative, and serves on the UC President’s Advisory Commission on Agriculture & Natural Resources. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from San Jose State University, with a specialization in Business Management.
Patricia Carrillo Executive Director
Nathan runs ALBA’s Farmer Education Course, supports farmers in their early years in the Organic Farm Incubator, and manages a number of educational and research projects. He came to ALBA in March 2010 from San Luis Obispo, where he worked in various capacities (student farm manager, harvest leader, farmers marketeer, and much more!) at the Cal Poly Organic Farm, a student enterprise that provided a 300-member year round “Community Supported Agriculture” vegetable box subscription service. While there he also earned an M.S. in Agriculture, emphasis Crop Science. Nathan fondly remembers his start in organic agriculture on a 5-acre biodynamic farm in rural Scotland that grew mixed vegetables and pastured laying hens
Education Program Director Nathan Harkleroad
Christopher Brown started at ALBA in March 2012 and is a native of Berkeley, California. He studied economics at University of California Berkeley and spent five years in the finance and investment field before entering UCLA’s Anderson School of Management to earn his MBA. Upon graduation, Chris pursued opportunities in the international non-profit field, taking an assignment was as a small-business consultant in Ukraine. This led to a project management role in Kiev, followed by others in Romania, Georgia and Montenegro over the course of a decade.
Development Director Christopher Brown
Juan has been working at ALBA since the summer of 2008. He is originally from Jalisco, Mexico and has lived in the Salinas area since 1986. With more than 20 years of mechanical experience, he is in charge of the maintenance of the ALBA’s training site, including the farm equipment. Prior to ALBA, Juan worked for ten years on two farms in Watsonville, California, where he learned and gained experience in farm irrigation systems, repair of farm equipment and general farm management. Juan enjoys helping the ALBA farmers and seeing the organic crops grow. . . and of course tasting them.
Farm Manager Juan Garcia
Patty joined ALBA as a bookkeeper in September of 2004, and later moved on to manage all administrative activities at ALBA. Currently, she maintains the financial records and tracking of all grant activities and expenses. She moved to the California coast in 1974 and developed an interest in organic farming issues as an avid backyard gardener while earning a B.A. in Economics at the University of California Santa Cruz. Patty served at the Santa Cruz Live Oak Grange as Garden Manager, where she oversaw a 1/2 acre demonstration garden, and Treasurer. She is currently the Treasurer at the Springfield Grange in Las Lomas.
Interim Finance Director Patty Howe
Manuel joined ALBA in November 2019 as the Production and Marketing Advisor where he works as the Grower Liaison between incubator farmers and potential buyers. He helps farmers create crop plans that follow organic practices like crop rotation and interplanting insectary plants on crops to help with the biological control in the field. Manuel is the “boots on the ground” here at ALBA and helps farmers identify any potential pests and/or diseases. Along with the support of the RCDMC, he also helps farmers manage their irrigation efficiency using various tools like tensiometers and online resources like crop manage. Prior to attending Cal Poly SLO where he graduated with bachelor’s in science in Agricultural Systems Management, Manny also attended Hartnell where he became a small business owner thanks to the PEPA program where he farmed at ALBA for 2 years.
Manuel Cervantes Marketing Advisor
Antonio joined ALBA as the Food Safety Assistant in February of 2019. Before coming to ALBA, he worked with a local farmer as a HR/Safety/Food Safety Assistant. Antonio obtained an AA degree in 2010 in Business Management from Heald College with an emphasis in Accounting. Antonio began training on food safety in 2015 and is nearing completion of his Food Safety Certificate at Hartnell College. He believes food safety comes first in agriculture–everyone deserves safe food to eat. He is excited to be part of ALBA. Seeing small organic growers grow, he believes organic is the way to go!
Compliance Manager Antonio Acosta
Salvador Avalos joined the ALBA staff as Food Safety Assistant in Spring 2020. He gained an internship at ALBA through its workforce development partnership with Hartnell College. Salvador obtained his Associates of Science in Agriculture Business and began to take food safety classes right after to expand his knowledge within agriculture. In his role, he helps maintain good agricultural practices within the ranch as well as making sure that important food safety documents are up-to-date with regulations and standards within the industry. Salvador’s willingness to learn along with his experience have made him a dynamic team member that can adhere and overcome any obstacle that is put in front of him and his colleagues.
Food Safety Assistant Salvador Avalos
Andrea started at ALBA in 2019 as a summer intern and joined the staff in 2020, shortly after graduating from University of California Davis with a Bachelor’s of Science in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. She now works as ALBA’s Special Project Coordinator and assists in conducting the Farmer Education Course, with educational and research projects, as well as serving as a grower liaison for the farmers. Growing up in a predominantly agricultural region, Andrea fell in love with all aspects of agriculture at a young age. This led her to pursue a career where she could strive and advocate for an equal, healthier, and accessible future for all. During her undergrad experience, she worked in various projects in plant nutrition, animal production systems, and special crop production practices that mitigate negative impacts while producing environmental and social benefits.
Andrea Tinajero Projects Coordinator
Jesus joined the ALBA team in May 2019 as the Farm Management Assistant. Previously, he worked as an irrigator; he installed, maintained and trouble shot both sprinkler and drip tape irrigation systems. He was also a tractor driver. At ALBA, he provides technical assistance to the first-year incubator farmers teaching them how to use tractors, implements and irrigation tools properly and safely. Jesus helps to ensure that tractors are in working conditions by lubricating the equipment and adding water and diesel when needed. He also helps to maintain the ALBA ranch and shop, keeps the hedgerows clean from weeds, prunes shrubs, and straightens the roads on the farm.
Farm Management Assistant Jesus Esqueda
Nancy has been affiliated with ALBA since 2009, initially, supporting the communications and outreach agenda, while leading the development of ALBA’s Environmental Education Program. During this time, she established and facilitated communications channels inside and outside of the organization, ensured timely production and distribution of bilingual educational materials and publications and served as a liaison with farmers at ALBA.
Community Relations & Environmental Education Officer Nancy Porto
Small-scale, immigrant-owned farms are largely overlooked in the Salinas Valley agribusiness, which driven by industrial-scale growers who distribute produce nationwide and export to global markets. In response, ALBA has developed relationships with select private sector and non-profit partners who specialize in serving this demographic. Our longstanding partners provide ongoing business support through education, lending, marketing, land matching and other business development services. By the time they complete the 5-year ALBA program, farmers have a strong network of business contacts and service providers to carry them forward into independent farm ownership.
Farm Business Service Partners
California FarmLink provides operating and equipment loans to our start-ups farmers to help them get started and expand. They also find appropriate land parcels as they transition from ALBA and have begun to provide mortgage lending for purchases.
Coke Farm distributes much of our start-up farms’ produce, providing a steady sales channel for those just getting started.
Kitchen Table Advisors works with farmers on business management and strategy, helping them manage the transition from our land and to reach their business goals.
Monterey County Resource Conservation District provides on-farm technical assistance to farmers in soil management and irrigation.
ALBA draws financial support from state and federal government agencies, the private sector and a growing number of local, regional and national foundations, which fund initiatives to bring about a more just and sustainable food system. Click on the logos below to learn more about our donors’ work.