Marin Organic: Cultivating Our Farmers
Marin Organic was founded in 1999 as a farmer-led nonprofit organization with a combined mission of educating consumers about the value of organically produced foods, and supporting local farmers in their utilization of organic practices, thereby making it economically feasible to preserve the agricultural way of life in Marin County.
Together with the Marin County Department of Agriculture, the group also established its own criteria for organic certification that went above and beyond the federal government’s then-newly codified standards for organic.
At the time of Marin Organic’s founding, Marin County was home to 13 certified organic producers, working a combined total of 400 certified organic acres. Today the organization partners with 40 local organic farms, and there are over 40,000 certified organic acres in the county.
These numbers are proof that Marin Organic has been extremely successful in accomplishing the goals set by its founders, but the organization’s current leaders are not satisfied to rest on its laurels and have evolved its mission to include promoting organic agriculture, providing food system education and increasing access to fresh produce for people in need—not to mention serving as a model and mentor for like-minded groups the world over.
Current Marin Organic programs include Farm Field Studies, the K–12 on-farm education program that teaches schoolchildren about the connections between the natural environment, good nutrition and our food system; and a weekly gleaning operation that recovers organic produce that otherwise would get composted (or worse, left to rot), contributing over 15,000 pounds of leafy greens, vegetables and fruit to local food pantries each year.
The most recent addition to its advocacy work is Farming 101, a series of monthly workshops that provide professional development for beginning farmers. Farming 101 also encompasses a year-long mentoring program, pairing experienced organic farmers like Star Route Farm’s Warren Weber with beginning farmers.
FROM THE SOURCE
The creator of the extraordinary food images shown here, all products of Marin Organic member producers, is Michael Lamotte, a San Francisco–based food photographer. Lamotte’s From the Source project was inspired by his passion for food and the local food movement.
Regarding this important body of work, Lamotte says, “My hope is the From the Source project and blog will help promote small, local food purveyors and, with an aesthetic depiction, foster a deeper level of appreciation through photography. We are so fortunate to live in an area that cultivates and encourages the production of so many delicious foods—my supply of subjects is endless.”
According to Lamotte, the collaboration with Marin Organic was a natural fit for From the Source. “Collaboratively we featured nine Marin Organic members and their products. We opened with a gallery show and fundraiser for Marin Organic and ended with a pop-up dinner utilizing the food photographed in the From the Source images. It was a perfect match.”
We wholeheartedly agree.