#32 Jim Cochran of Swanton Berry Farm on working with the United Farm Workers and growing organic when everyone says it’s impossible

Inspired by the the United Farm Workers struggle for justice and an emerging environmental movement, Jim Cochran started Swanton Berry Farm in 1983 on four leased acres on the California coast.  At the time, everyone said it was impossible to make a living growing organic strawberries, but after some creative experimentation and a collaboration with agroecologists Steve Gliessman and Sean Swezey at UC Santa Cruz, Swanton became the first certified organic strawberry farm in California.  As the organic berry industry boomed in California, Jim kept implementing his vision for a more sustainable agriculture, signing a contract with the United Farm Workers that covers all of his full-time employees, and offering them a stock ownership program. He aims to set an example with his commercially viable, socially just and sustainable farming business.  Jim is currently in the process of retiring from Swanton Berry Farm, and working on The Food Commons, a model for supporting local food systems with a pilot food hub in Fresno, California.  In this episode, Jim talks to Devon about working with the United Farm Workers and growing organic when everyone says it’s impossible.