Finger Weeder and UN Sustainable Development Goals

Wanna find our how small change at the farm level can have global impact?

For those of you who visit the PPC Blog site, I wanted to share my grant proposal submission for this year. It might be of interest to fellow aspirations like me who want to use UN sustainable goals as their guide in decision making. It also has updates on our farm size and practices, so go ahead and enjoy the read!

Finger Weeders for Weed Control and UN Sustainable Development Goals

Farm Information

For the past decade the Garza brothers and the Kims have worked tirelessly to transform what used to be a conventional farm in the deep south Texas along the Rio Grande River into what is now a thriving organic farm. PPC Farms, often dubbed as "people's produce choice", grows the famous Texas 1015 Sweet Onions, organic kale, cabbage, broccoli, beets, herbs and winter squashes from its 400 acres of USDA Organic Certified land using sustainable agricultural methods that include integrated pest management and cover crops. Each field has so much biodiversity thanks to planting design that incorporates insectary strips and companion planting, it can even be certified as a pollinator habitat! "Shintobulyi" is a Korean macrobiotic concept that translates "body and soil are not separate". We believe that vegetable can be only as healthy as the soil that it is grown on. For that reason, restoring and regenerating soil is our top priority.

Project Goals and Objectives

Weed control is one of the primary challenges we face in organic agriculture. Conventional growers conveniently rely on herbicide to deal with the drudgery of fighting the pig weed, purslane and silverleaf nightshade. Organic growers, especially in the region of south Texas where it rarely freezes, perennially fight an uphill battle with weeds that rob sunlight, water and nutrients from the crop. Currently PPC Farms uses tractor pulled mechanical cultivator to dislodge weed. This practice gets rid of most of the weed in the furrows, but the area on the bed rows are untouched. Hand hoeing crew are contracted to tediously remove weeds from the delicate areas around the crop. This process is extremely time consuming and costly, often representing large portion of production expenses. Finger Weeder is an innovative mechanical cultivator that has been proved to be effective in removing the in-bed weed seedlings on farm trials. Finger Weeder will supplement the limitation of traditional cultivator, and will meet our goal of herbicide free weed management.

PPC Farms hope to work toward meeting another set of goals, which are the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by United Nations. The UN Sustainable Development Goals address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The seventeen goals are

1. No Poverty

2. Zero Hunger

3. Good Health and Well-being

4. Quality Education

5. Gender Equality

6. Clean Water and Sanitation

7. Affordable and Clean Energy

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

9. Industry Innovation and Infrastructure

10. Reduced Inequalities

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

13. Climate Action

14. Life Below Water

15. Life on Land

16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

17. Partnerships for the Goals

We believe that finger weeders will help us achieve the following thirteen out of the seventeen goals.

Zero Hunger- Finger weeder will increase the quantity and quality of our vegetable production by effective weed control. Too much weed on the vegetable beds shade out the crop and take nutrients away from it, affecting its size, quality and quantity.

Good Health and Well-being- Herbicide use will be minimized or completely eliminated, resulting in more wholesome products for consumers, and better working condition and well-being of workers who work in the fields.

Gender Equality- The mechanical tool will eliminate any hiring prejudice which might have existed with employment practices related to manual labor.

Clean Water and Sanitation- Reduction or elimination of herbicide will minimize the agricultural run-off that pollutes our water. This is particularly important as our field water runs off into the Rio Grande River and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Decent Work and Economic Growth- The mechanized tool will improve the working condition of farm workers by reducing the toll on their bodies. Also, the efficiency created by the tool will allow PPC Farms to hire labor in more consistent and constant way.

Industry Innovation and Infrastructure- Use of the finger weeder is a relatively new technology. We know of no other grower in the region who is using this innovative technology.

Reduced Inequalities- PPC Farms is a company owned and operated by underrepresented minority group farmers. Your support of our farm will improve minority representation in the industry and reduce historic inequalities.

Sustainable Cities and Communities- PPC Farms is located within rapidly urbanizing area of south Texas. Finger Weeder will allow sustainable coexistence of agriculture and residential spaces within the community because it replaces use of harmful herbicides.

Responsible Consumption and Production- PPC Farms is producing organic vegetables in a responsible manner when it replaces herbicide use with an innovative mechanical tiller, Finger Weeder. In return, the consumers will be able to make environmentally and socially responsible purchasing decision when they buy PPC Farms produce.

Climate Action- Recent soil health research revealed that agriculture could be a major factor in combating climate change. Elimination of herbicide use in farming will continue to improve soil health, and in conjunction with the use of cover crops, will sequester more carbon into the soil.

Life Below Water- Our agricultural run off water drains into the Rio Grande River and into the Gulf of Mexico. By eliminating use of harmful herbicide, we will help preserve the habitat of aquatic life and organisms in our regional ecosystems.

Life on Land- Herbicide use not only affect plants but life above and below the soil. Our farm is located in a very ecologically diverse area. It is a premiere birding and butterfly habitat. By eliminating the use of herbicide, we will be protecting the pollinators and other creatures that visit our fields and the surrounding areas. The diverse microorganisms which occupy the subsoil areas are spared the peril and degradation that chemical dependent farming has on soil health.

Last but not least,

Partnerships for the Goals- The purchase of finger weeder would not be possible without the funding that your institution is offering. The high operating cost of organic farming makes investment in innovative tools and machinery difficulty. If the producers, distributors and the consumers could come together in partnership to support our project, we will be one step closer to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Strategies and Timelines

There are three types of Finger Weeders that we are proposing to incorporate into our production system. One type is a tractor pulled complete system Habicht manufactured by K.U.L.T.-Kress. This system can be fitted on to our existing farming equipment and cover multiple rows at once. The spacing will be customized to the crop we are growing. This type is most suitable for our organic onion production because plant spacing is uniform, and we plant large acreage.

The second type is Argus by K.U.L.T.-Kress. This smaller type is also pulled by tractor, but only few rows at at time. This system can be pulled by smaller tractors.

The third type is hand pushed system used with double wheel hoe. This product is available through Johnny Selected Seeds.

Timing is crucial. We can deploy the Finger Weeder about 10 days after planting. The crop should be firmly rooted while the weeds are small. Rotating plastic or polyurethane wheels or "fingers" turn in tween the crop row, driven by the steel fingers, dislodging small weeds. This also deter weed seed germination as well as improve water penetration of the soil. Employing finger weeder will cut down on labor, reduce or eliminate use of herbicide in both organic and conventional farming, increase worker productivity and better management of the fields. It is said to be ideal for use in well established brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Research has shown a weed reduction of 60 percent is feasible by using finger weeders. Finger weeders are most effective when stacking with tools that run in front of the fingers such as beet knives and torsion weeders. This percentage could be increased to 90 percent by combining the finger weeder with a torsion weeder.

Budget

The K.U. L. T. Finger Weeder customized unit is about $20,000.

The Finger Weeder Wheel Hoe Accessory ($495) can be fitted onto Terratech Double Wheel Hoe ($425).

We will purchase the Finger Weeder if we win the grant, and can put them into use immediately.

Today is the last day of voting. Yes, I know we are trailing greatly and the chance we will will the popularity vote is minuscule. That does not mean your support will go unheard. Last year, the wonderful people at the Cultivating Change gave PPC farms the second place win on the merit of our proposal. Let us know that you are supporting our farm and our cause by voting for PPC Farms at the Cultivating Change site.

http://wshe.es/vtK2A7sT

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Cultivating Change Grant

Two years ago, we were told about a great program called the “Cultivating Change Grant”.

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We were fortunate to have been granted $10,000 to improve and innovate our organic growing practices.

You can hear a snippet of the interview I did with Jaymie of the Cultivating Change during the Colorful Plates podcast.

Colorful Plates website is created and designed by Monterey, Calif.-based distributor Pro*Act  to encourage chefs to feature produce in their dishes.

The site, Colorful Plates, includes information on seasonality, usage ideas, recipes, storage tips, flavor profiles of various produce items, chef features and more.

Be sure to go to http://wshe.es/vtK2A7sT to read about our current proposal to vote for us, PPC Farms!

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Certify Your Farm as a Butterfly Habitat?

Usually insects are considered the “enemy” of the farmers. But did you know that only a small percentage of the insects are actual pests? Sometimes it is just one particular pest that is damaging your crop. If we were to deploy chemical warfare because of the pest, inadvertently we may affect the 95 percent which are benign or beneficial.

The Lower Rio Grande Valley is a very special place. With an average mean temperature of about 72 degrees and nearly 325 days of sun, the Lower RGV where our farm is located enjoys the longest growing season in the United States. Temperate and tropic climates meet here, as do the major Mississippi and Central bird flyways.

Our unique area serves as habitat to over 300 species of butterflies and 500 bird species. This is THE birding central and butterfly hot spot of USA.

According to NABA, North American Butterfly Association, over 95% of this natural habitat has been eroded and the rest endangered due to agricultural, industrial, and urban development. Planting a butterfly garden in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is one way to help restore some of the habitat that has been lost to development and provide resources for wild butterflies to thrive and grow. Another way is for a grower like us to make changes in our practices so that we can restore the lost habitat.

Over the past years since we took over the 1500 acre conventional farm in south Texas, we have slowly but surely, implemented proper restorations.

  • Transition over 400 acres to certified USDA organic land.

  • Dramatically reduced the amount of chemical inputs in the entire farm.

  • Increased plant diversity by moving away from monoculture.

  • Incorporated insectary strips to increase biodiversity and provide habitat for insects.

  • Restoring soil health by using cover crops.

Each field is now planted with 5 to 10 different crops, inter spaced with insectary strips to have push/pull effects.

Each field is now planted with 5 to 10 different crops, inter spaced with insectary strips to have push/pull effects.

When we made the above changes at the farm, we started to see more productivity and vigor in the plants. A plant pathologist visited our farm and told me that because different plants have varying root structures, increasing the diversity, and placing them to others, actually will improve the crop as well as the soil structure.

Anwar Garza, the PPC Farms Head Field Operations Manager, is explaining our system to visiting scholars and local farmers at the 2nd Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers Conference in McAllen, Texas.

Anwar Garza, the PPC Farms Head Field Operations Manager, is explaining our system to visiting scholars and local farmers at the 2nd Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers Conference in McAllen, Texas.

Whatever is the science behind it, we are happy to see that our commitment to restoration and regeneration is making changes and capturing attention of others who are also concerned for our environment and its future.

Now we think twice before squashing a caterpillar.

Now we think twice before squashing a caterpillar.

Finally, I will share with you a very beautiful wild plant that serves as a host for the migrating Monarch Butterflies. These climbing milkweed plants are native to our area. In order to encourage their growth, we leave native trees and bush hedges around the field.

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You can make a difference by making your own garden into a butterfly habitat. The NABA website has valuable information. http://nababutterfly.com/ You can also contact the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for plants you can place in your area. https://www.wildflower.org/plants-main

You will be rewarded with beautiful butterflies visiting your home!

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Papaya Kimchi

As an organic grower, one of the perks is having abundant produce to cook and eat during our harvest season. Currently, we are still waiting to harvest our winter crop and I don’t have any free produce. In the mean time, what am I cooking with?

In our area of south Texas, papaya grow like weeds, their seeds spread by the numerous birds who peck at the ripened fruit. The papaya seeds are easy to propagate, and I have 10 plants in my backyard that we grew from seed.

Papaya, while they are still green, have a very high amount of resistant starch which is a bonanza for beneficial gut bacteria. I decided to enhance the benefit even more by making kimchi out of them.

First you peel and seed the green fruit.

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Cut into to strips, then into cubes.

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Add salt. Here, I am using himalayan pink salt, but you can use any kind.

Add salt. Here, I am using himalayan pink salt, but you can use any kind.

Add Korean red pepper flakes. If you don’t have any, I have used puree of any red peppers, even a bell pepper would work. You won’t have the heat, but the color and flavor from the bell pepper is nice. My favorite is red vine ripened jalapeno puree.

Add Korean red pepper flakes. If you don’t have any, I have used puree of any red peppers, even a bell pepper would work. You won’t have the heat, but the color and flavor from the bell pepper is nice. My favorite is red vine ripened jalapeno puree.

Garlic puree is next. If you don’t have any fresh garlic, I have gotten away with garlic powder or granulated garlic before.

Garlic puree is next. If you don’t have any fresh garlic, I have gotten away with garlic powder or granulated garlic before.

Thinly sliced scallions are next. If you don’t have scallions, you can substitute with puree of onions. Puree peppers, garlic and onions together to save time.

Thinly sliced scallions are next. If you don’t have scallions, you can substitute with puree of onions. Puree peppers, garlic and onions together to save time.

If you are vegan, you can skip this step and just add more salt. The tiny pink things you see are salted shrimps you can purchase from a Korean grocery store.

If you are vegan, you can skip this step and just add more salt. The tiny pink things you see are salted shrimps you can purchase from a Korean grocery store.

Mix well, using a spoon, or with a gloved hand. Taste to see if you need to add more salt. I usually add some sugar at this stage to help along the fermentation process. If you are against sugar, you can puree an apple along with garlic, onion and pepper and add the mixture. I have made all variations and combinations, and they have all turned out well.

Mix well, using a spoon, or with a gloved hand. Taste to see if you need to add more salt. I usually add some sugar at this stage to help along the fermentation process. If you are against sugar, you can puree an apple along with garlic, onion and pepper and add the mixture. I have made all variations and combinations, and they have all turned out well.

Jar it, and keep it at room temperature for the next two days. Refrigerate afterwards.

Jar it, and keep it at room temperature for the next two days. Refrigerate afterwards.

I left my jar out for 4 days to maximize fermentation. My family commented they prefer a slightly fresher version. My gut, on the other hand, is thanking me for the extra time I had the papaya kimchi out on the counter.

I hope you try making it yourself if you have access to green papayas. DO NOT attempt to make it with ripe fruit!

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Ag Research Experts and Local Farmers Visit PPC Farms

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Ag Research Experts and Local Farmers Visit PPC Farms

Second Annual Hispanic Farmer and Rancher Conference was held on December 5 and 6, 2018 at Casa de Palmas Hotel in McAllen, Texas. PPC Farms hosted a visit during the early morning hours of the 7th, and it grabbed the attention of several cover crop and food safety research experts who came to present at the conference.

Anwar explaining PPC Farms organic systems approach to a group of researchers and farmers.

Anwar explaining PPC Farms organic systems approach to a group of researchers and farmers.

Attendees witnessed how each field was comprised of numerous crops instead of being planted with only a single crop like the surrounding fields that belong to other conventional farmers. Our approach to organic farming moved away from monoculture, embracing diversity of polyculture system. The change was made for more effective integrated pest management. With push and pull going on with different insectary strips, we are seeing that our cash crops are performing very well. Studies are underway with the UTRGV College of Science team and National Center for Alternative Technology. For complete finding, look for their publications in the future!

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Insectary Strip

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Flowering insectary strips are an excellent strategy for supporting pollinators and other beneficial insects on farms.  Planted along field edges or directly within fields, these strips help ensure that flowering habitat is in close proximity to the crop fields where pollination and pest control services are most needed. 

Insectary strips can be temporary (annual) or permanent (perennial) and native or non-native, depending on the goals and situation at hand.  Temporary  insectary strips are typically composed of non-native flowers  and herbs that provide bloom very quickly and do not require much weed control prior to planting (since the planting will be cultivated at the end of the growing season).  Plants such as cosmos, dill, cilantro, basil, mustards, buckwheat, and dwarf sunflowers are examples of what may be suitable for an annual insectary strip.  

The mix we used at our farm include dill, cilantro, buckwheat, alyssum and sun hemp. They were chosen because of their performance in previous trials, as well as recommendation by Xerces Society. Dwarf sunflowers volunteered themselves.

Entomologist Dr. Rupesh Kariyat and his team of graduate students are monitoring the site to verify the efficacy of the insect strips, and to study the biodiversity of insect population in our area. #UTRGV #Entomology #insectarystrip

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Strong Demand Expected for Texas Kale

http://www.freshplaza.com/article/9035101/strong-demand-expected-for-texas-kale/

Strong demand expected for Texas kale

Demand for kale could be robust this season given recent weather events.

“This season the demand will be strong for kale. It’s going to be a good year for those who have it because of all the hurricanes in Florida and the Carolinas,” says Lois Kim of PPC Farms in Mission, Texas.

She does note that weather events also did delay the plantings of kale on PPC’s farms in Texas. “We just planted a few weeks ago due to unusually wet weather. Our region is really wet so everyone was delayed in all of the plantings. And then usually August, it’s too early and too hot to plant kale,” says Kim. “So we waited and then it started to storm. But we’re getting in there now.”

The season for kale from Texas will run November through to April. 

Strong finish 
All of this comes after a healthy end to PPC’s kale season in early April. “We had very good-looking kale last season and it looks like we’ll once again have some beautiful products,” says Kim.

A large part of that is attributed to a few changes PPC has made recently. Not only has it gone 100 percent organic for kale production but it also shifted to an integrated pest management system involving mixing crops. “Every few rows we have things like dill, cabbage, things like that, to lure pests away and protect our more expensive fields. So instead of 20 acres of kale together, we divide it up into two acres of kale and then some cabbage, and then some broccoli and then kale again,” says Kim. “Even though we’re doing a lot of acreage, each field is now multiple plants.”

Yield shift 
She notes that PPC has seen yields go up with this new system in place. “And I think ultimately it will help our costs go down and have good yields. Last year we had really good looking product from the fields with multiple crops,” she says.

Looking ahead though, she’s waiting cautiously to see how kale pricing will go this season. “Price was a little bit of a concern last season,” she says.

For more information:
Lois Kim
PPC Farms
Tel: 956-580-2525
lois@ppcfarms.com 
www.ppcfarms.com

Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG)

    

Soil is a living and life-giving natural resource. 

As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. By farming using soil health principles and systems that include no-till, cover cropping and diverse rotations, more and more farmers are actually increasing their soil’s organic matter and improving microbial activity. As a result, farmers are sequestering more carbon, increasing water infiltration, improving wildlife and pollinator habitat—all while harvesting better profits and often better yields.

National Center for Appropriate Technology has been awarded the NRCS CIG grant to study soil health in sub tropical climate region of south Texas. PPC Farms signed up to host the project, matching the public grant dollars with our contribution of land and labor.

Last fall, we look at different cover crop options from clovers to buckwheat. During the summer months, our fields were planted with sudan grass and various legumes including pigeon peas. As we begin our 2018 fall planting season, we are excited to look at different ways for farmers to sequester carbon in the soil and help the soil microbes to help us. We will keep you updated pictures from time to time.

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2nd Annual Small Producer Conference at Texas State University 8/13-8/14, 2018

2nd Annual Small Producer Conference at Texas State University 8/13-8/14, 2018

Anwar Garza presented the importance of FSMA compliance for small producers at the annual conference at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.

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PPC’s very own Anwar Garza was invited to lead a session for the growers who wanted to learn more about food safety and G.A.P. certification process. Anwar walked the group through the basic process, and shared his experiences and why he believes the practice will help the producers regardless of the size. His expert knowledge made a deep impression on the audience as well as the other presenters at the conference. PPC Farms have complied with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) since its initial announcement in 2009, years before the compliance became mandatory.

The FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is being called the most sweeping reform of U.S. food safety laws in more than 70 years. It was originally signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, and in the years since, FDA has been working
to develop the final rules that the act requires them to implement. The focus of the act is more effective prevention of food safety issues in the U.S. food supply. With new changes in food safety regulations also come new compliance challenges for the food industry. Growers, producers, harvesters and processors need to fully comprehend the rules in
order to overcome the challenges associated with FSMA. PPC Farms is glad that we could serve our producer community as a leader in food safety area.

Among the other presenters were Ray Archuletta, a renowned soil health specialist who tours the country “evangelizing” producers about the benefits of no-till and regenerative agriculture. His demonstration on how no-till soil retains so much water while regular soil causes run-offs and depletion of top soil was quite impressive.

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Most of the applications were more suited to row crop growers or ranchers, but PPC is looking into incorporating regenerative practices such as cover cropping.

Daniel Kim, a fifteen year old farmer-in-training” received a scholarship two years in a row to attend the conference. Even though he was familiar with the vegetable growing, what fascinated him the most at the conference was combining animals with crop production. He also took away many ideas to improve his weekend farmers’ market business.

We congratulate Dr. Ken Mix of Texas State University for putting together an awesome conference!

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Inaugural Pigeon Pea Field Day at PPC Farms

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Inaugural Pigeon Pea Field Day at PPC Farms

9/6/2018

Justin Duncan of National Center for Appropriate Technology introduced Pigeon Peas to the Rio Grande Valley as outreach portion of the Conservation Innovation Grant supported cover crop study on September 6th, 2018 at PPC Farms. Justin, a long time plant nerd and agronomist, cares for plants as you and I would rear our own children. He was super excited to trial various summer time hot weather cover crop choices for our south Texas heat. After waiting for a rain in May, he planted several species. Using the survival of the fittest model, Justin chose not to irrigate the field. The pigeon peas emerged as the sole survivor and winner of the contest. On September 6, 2018, Texas farmers who wanted to learn more about this super food crop gathered at PPC Farms research site in Mission, Texas, to witness a quarter acre of verdant, tall and dense population in the middle of a dry field. Dr. Alexis Racelis brought his sustainable agriculture class to the event. He led the students through the field, helping the students make the connection between the textbook and real life plants growing in local ecosystem.

PPC Farms will continue to host the Conservation Innovation Grant supported cover crop soil research, working together with NCAT and UTRGV. It was awesome to see so many people interested in and supporting sustainable and regenerative agriculture in our area.

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PPC Farms Featured on Brighter Bites Website

2.12.2018

BRIGHTER BITES LOVES LOCAL!

When we can, Brighter Bites supports local farmers by sharing the product of their hard work with our participants. After all, it is the growers who spend their days tending to the fresh fruits and vegetables that helps Brighter Bites create communities of health! This year, parents and children in some of our Texas cities have had the opportunity to touch, taste, and cook delicious fresh produce grown in their own state.

In Austin, through our partnership with Hardie’s Fresh Foods, we are featuring Texas grown produce throughout our Spring programming. These items include: oranges and grapefruit  (Edinburg Citrus Association), bok choy and beets (Rio Fresh), acorn squash (PPC Farms), collard greens (Johnson’s Backyard Garden), red cabbage (J&B Farms), and sweet potatoes (H.M. Smith & Sons). Our friends at Farmhouse Delivery have donated carrots, collards, radishes, kale, turnips, kohlrabi, and bibb lettuce all grown in Texas.

We are so grateful to the growers of fresh produce in the state of Texas!

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https://www.brighterbites.org/news/brighter-bites-loves-local/

Discover Texas Episode 41 PPC Farms

Texas based cable company which produces internationally syndicated show, "Discover Texas" featured PPC Farms in their recent episode.  Meet the members of PPC  and learn their stories here.

 

From left to right.  Lois Kim VP Public Relations/On-Farm Research, Isaac Kim COO, Anwar Garza VP Marketing/Field Operations, Marcelino  Garza CEO, Patricia  Garza CFO

From left to right.  Lois Kim VP Public Relations/On-Farm Research, Isaac Kim COO, Anwar Garza VP Marketing/Field Operations, Marcelino  Garza CEO, Patricia  Garza CFO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6Xc8We_L2U&t=45s

PPC Farms Supports Environmental Awareness Club at UTRGV

PPC Farms Supports Environmental Awareness Club at UTRGV

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Organic produce, homemade treats available each month at UTRGV Farmers Market

February 22, 2018  Edinburg, Texas

Suzanne El-Haj  and Martha Garcia, co-presidents of the UTRGV Environmental Awareness Club, spearhead the monthly UTRGV Farmers Market, open to students and the public alike and held outside the chapel on the Edinburg Campus.  

Students and faculty enjoyed looking at and purchasing locally grown spinach, kale, cabbage and squashes, donated to the club by PPC Farms and other organic growers in the valley.  Lois Kim, representing PPC Farms, interacted with students who where curious where the farms were located in the Rio Grande Valley.  The shoppers received deep satisfaction in knowing who grew and where their food was coming from.  

Also available for purchase were eggs from local free range chicken raised on non-soy feed and vegan baked treats.

ABOUT UTRGV

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.

PPC Farms Chosen as Research Site for  USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant

PPC Farms Chosen as Research Site for USDA NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant

“The Conservation Innovation Grant program is an example of government at its best, providing seed money to help spur cutting-edge projects. This year’s competition resulted in an impressive array of proposals that will ultimately benefit the people who grow our food and fiber.” - NRCS Acting Chief Leonard Jordan

Buckwheat at PPC Farms

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Buckwheat at PPC Farms

Buckwheat, also known as common buckwheat, Japanese buckwheat and silverhull buckwheat, is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and as a cover crop.

Are You Eating Buckwheat?

Buckwheat may be one of the healthiest foods you’re not eating. Along with having numerous health benefits, it is tasty, easy to prepare and inexpensive. Here are some things I love about it:

Buckwheat is not a grain.

Many who are trying to avoid grains find themselves limited to fruit and sweet potatoes as sources of good carbs. Even though it’s often included in lists of grains, buckwheat is not a grain. The edible portion is a seed from a plant related to greens like rhubarb and sorrel.

Buckwheat is gluten-free.

Because it is neither a grain nor related to wheat, buckwheat is gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities. Studies show that even in high concentrations, buckwheat flour and its purified proteins have no immunologic reactions for patients with celiac disease.

At PPC Farms, we are co-planting buckwheat and clover with broccoli in experimental plots to study weed suppression, nitrogen fixation and soil temperature balancing benefits.  The study was funded by NRCS, awarded to NCAT, and execulted by UTRGV.  

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), formerly known as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides technical assistance to farmers and other private landowners and managers.

The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is an American organization headquartered in that is dedicated to appropriate technology and sustainability. Projects specifically deal with sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture and food, sustainable living, farm energy, and climate change.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) is a public research university in the University of Texas System.  UTRGV is one of the largest universities in the U.S. to have a majority Hispanic student population; 90% of its students are Hispanic, virtually all of them Mexican-Americans.

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Connecting Dietitians to Agriculture Event Held at PPC Farms

Connecting Dietitians to Agriculture Event Held at PPC Farms

LEARN on the FARM- RGV South Region KICK OFF!

Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics RGV South Region Connects to Agriculture

 

On November 27, 2017 at 6pm to 8pm, special kick off event for RGV South Region of the Texas Academy  took place at PPC Farms. The members of Texas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics learned about organic farming, local produce, about the “story” behind PPC farms contribution to community health, and enjoyed some healthy recipe sampling.  It was organized by Andie Lee Gonzalez.  

Texas Academy, an affiliate of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is a not-for-profit professional organization of over 4,000 registered dietitians, dietetic technicians, and students in Texas. Texas Academy members provide expert food and nutrition resources for Texans. They are here to help Texans improve and manage their health—and make eating an enjoyable and delicious experience.

 

 

1/24/2018 Fresh Plaza Story on PPC Farms

1/24/2018 Fresh Plaza Story on PPC Farms

Grower expands organic production

US kale supplies healthy, prices up

Despite the cold temperatures, the hearty-stalked kale supplies are looking equally hearty. 

“Supply of kale is good,” says Lois Kim of PPC Farms in Mission, TX. “We had a freeze twice in the past month, but the cold didn’t affect it.”  While PPC’s supplies are coming from the Rio Grande Valley region in South Texas, competition is hailing from Florida on the East Coast, Georgia, South Carolina and California. 



While supplies are healthy, PPC is in the midst of moving crops from conventional to organic kale. “We have 50 percent more organic and 50 percent less conventional compared to last year,” says Kim. “We have more organics and less conventional because we transitioned more acreage into organics and we plan to continue to do so based on our success.” 



Quality improvements
PPC also took measures to improve the quality of its crops for 2018. “The quality is extraordinary compared to last year due to improved management and proactive scouting,” says Kim. Those steps include hiring an employee knowledgeable about integrated pest management into its organic production. “And daily scouting coupled with immediate action taken at the first sign of infestation has helped with this year's production,” she adds, noting PPC is also currently experimenting with companion plants, buffers, trap cropping and cover crops.

At the same time, thanks to the recent frigid temperatures on the East Coast, prices have increased on kale. “In early January they were up by 50 percent,” says Kim. “Last year, the unusually warm winter kept the US greens prices depressed. We couldn’t give the stuff away.” 

Looking ahead though, Kim anticipates the prices staying high for the next couple of weeks until the East Coast catches up. “And we expect our kale to be very sweet due to the cold snap,” she says. 

For more information: 
Lois Kim
PPC Farms
Tel : +1-956-580-2525
loiskim321@gmail.com
www.ppcfarms.com
 

Publication date: 1/24/2018
Author: Astrid van den Broek
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com

PPC Farms Wins Cultivating Change

PPC Farms Wins Cultivating Change

 

PPC Farms Awarded for Cultivating Change 

$10,000 grant will lead to trial organic farming methods

By: VBR

 

PPC Farms, located in Mission, cultivates and grows conventional and organic produce year round. (photo PPC Farms)

Mission-based PPC Farms recently placed second nationally in the PRO*ACT Cultivating Change contest, winning $10,000. The funds will enable PPC Farms to reach its goal to protect their crops from various pests and diseases without the use of pesticides and fungicides. The farm plans to purchase floating row covers for use in the farm’s organic brassica and cucurbit production.  

Grants range from $1,000 to $20,000 and are of use to complete a wide variety of sustainability and expansion projects. These projects positively impact each winning farm as well as the surrounding community. 

Established in 1972, PPC Farms grows a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including kale, lettuce, onions, squash, tomatoes and avocados. They partner with Hardie’s Fresh Foods, a PRO*ACT fresh produce distributor and member of Greener Fields Together, a program that supports sustainability throughout the fresh produce supply chain.  

“The Cultivating Change grant will allow PPC Farms to trial organic farming methods that have not been adopted in our area,” said Lois Kim, public relations director at PPC Farms. “We are expecting that the floating row covers will not only extend the growing season for our cabbages, kale and squashes, but also protect them from pests and other threats. Our success will impact not only our operation but other growers in the region.” 

About Cultivating Change

Cultivating Change began in 2015 as a way to promote and support the sustainability efforts of local farmers. It provides funds for new or upgraded equipment and facilities as well as certifications. It also funds eco-driven projects that will both minimize environmental impact and maximize production. This year, 100 farms participated in the grant program. Since it’s inception, Cultivating Change has awarded more than $200,000 in grants. This year, six project proposals were recipients of a total of $55,000 in grant money. Additionally, five outstanding winners, who each will receive from $1,000 to $10,000 in grant funds, were chosen via popular vote. 

https://www.valleybusinessreport.com/industry/agriculture/ppc-farms-grant/