My name is Hank Herrera. I was born in San Jose.
It began 20 or so years ago, when I was involved in a project to bring a supermarket in a low-income neighborhood in Rochester NY. When it was up, we saw that all the profit went to the multinational grocery chain based in The Netherlands. The chain did hire from the neighborhood, but these were low paying jobs. I realized that what we had done was make this community dependent on the global supply chain and industrialized agriculture that extract wealth from them. If we want to challenge the basic problem of poverty then we need to re-localize the food supply chain and tackle local ownership. No single small local farm can provide food for five to ten thousand people week in week out. But a cooperative of small farms working together can. It led me to realizing that we need to have a network of small farms that supply to locally owned stores.
New Hope Farm is a worker co-op, and partner with other small farms with similar values. Our goal is to enable the people in the neighborhood to own their own grocery stores.
We will start a small grocery store in a low-income neighborhood by bringing in the financing, selecting the location, hiring and training the local residents. Then we will select the worker-owners from employees who demonstrate the necessary drive, motivation and management skills.
We want to focus on local economic development. We don't want to become Whole Foods. That is corporate concentration. We want to build a successful local business, attract interest from other localities to create similar things in their own neighborhoods. We then become a technical and training operation, like Mondragon, a co-op of co-op providing retirement benefits, healthcare and so on for its members.
3. What produce will Bay Bucks members be able to order from you?
This week we just started planting vegetable: Collard greens, tomatoes, cucumber, squash, pumpkin and a whole range of other veggies. We will have lamb and goat later this year. We will add chickens and ducks for eggs, and beehives for honey. We will have herbs and berries starting late summer. We are also planting fruit trees and will have fruit in a few years.
We thought about this some years ago because when people are locked into the standard economic system, they lose the ability to be creative and forge new relationships, and to support each other in local business operations. With the US dollars, you can shop in the global supply chain, but that takes value away from the local communities. If we have a local currency, and 25 stores are trading with it, these stores will do business with each other, with local money that can only be spent locally, and spent with face-to-face interactions. This exchange will build community and local wealth.
5. What support do you need to make New Hope Farm a success? How can Bay Bucks and our members help you?
We need customers! We need to deliver the highest quality products with the highest quality service at affordable prices. We believe our farming is the lowest cost with the highest quality. We don't use a tractor; we use the animals, sun and water to make the soil productive. Our major costs will be labor and infrastructure. We want to delight people. Bay Bucks folks can help us now with web development and accounting.
We are putting together a CSA program and will pre-sell it very soon. We can deliver anywhere in the Bay Area. The boxes will be available in June or July.
Hunger Games: Mocking Jay
Re-reading old issues of Sun Magazine
Near term goal:
Make the farm a success, make people so happy with our food that they can't get enough.
Dream (long term goal):
To create a space where people can be nurtured and achieve their own dreams, especially for little kids of color who don't usually have a great deal of hope.