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NATIONAL YOUNG FARMERS COALITION

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Young Farmer Voices: Alicia del Aguila, Regener8 Farm and Retreat in Miami, Florida

In partnership with MegaFood, the Young Farmer Voices campaign aims to amplify the stories of young and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) farmers across our network who are building a brighter and more just future for agriculture in the U.S. These are farmers working hard to address the issues of land access, climate change, USDA accountability, immigration and labor justice, and farmer mental health.

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Alicia del Aguila farms in Miami, Florida, where she is the Farm Manager at Regener8 Farm and Retreat. Alicia says the farm offers “a little bit of everything,” with three acres of vegetable growing fields, a two-and-a-half acre fruit orchard, 350 laying hens, a plant nursery for seedlings, propagation and microgreens, and hydroponic, aquaponic, and aquaculture operations (led by another farmer, Kyle Dalie). Regener8 provides a community supported agriculture (CSA) program and aims to open educational opportunities for all schools in the area. The farm started supplying to Centner Academy Schools and community, and has expanded to supply the public through farmers’ markets and wholesale. “Our small staff works to overcome the challenges and celebrate our wins when applicable,” Alicia says.

Alicia has been farming in southern Florida for a decade, and throughout that time she’s seen a lot of changes in the climate that have made it more challenging to predict how well each growing season will go. “Mango and avocado season is going to be rough this year,” Alicia shared as she spoke about the heavy wind storms that damaged blossoms in March. The traditional start to their growing season has become rainier than it used to be, with unpredictable storms flooding fields and winds damaging crops. At Regener8, she prioritizes mulching to prepare for any storm that may bring several inches of rain. 

“It’s like you have to be ready for any surprise–you have to have plans A, B, and C.” 

The garden beds were built as raised beds, which gives them an advantage when the rains do come, as the water accumulates on the pathways but also gets released slowly to the plants through the heavy mulch. “I think everyone will need to be doing these things soon,” Alicia says. “It’s like you have to be ready for any surprise–you have to have plans A, B, and C.” 

Climate change impacts farmers across the country in a number of ways–not only how Alicia and her team grow at Regener8, but also their mental health: “There’s too much to think about,” Alicia says. “I worry about my workers having proper hydration. The extreme heat can be extremely detrimental to farmers’ health if they dont take necessary measures to cool down and stay hydrated.” 

In April of this year, Governor Ron Desantis signed HB 433, which prohibits Florida cities and counties from establishing any protections for outdoor workers, including mandatory water breaks. “It’s no secret that outdoor workers, particularly farmworkers, are important to the Sunshine State, especially with so much of the state’s economy hinging on agriculture,” Alicia says. “At Regener8 I try to make sure that people are hydrating and if they feel exhausted or sick they must take a break, even go home if necessary. We discuss changes in schedule, whether we come to work earlier, or even have a break in the middle of the day and come back when it’s not hot anymore.” 

“I hope all farmers feel a sense of support,” Alicia shares. “Without that, the negative thoughts start to come in.” 
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Young Farmers’ 2022 National Survey found that 73.3% of young farmers have experienced at least one climate impact on their farm in the past five years. And 88% percent of those farmers attribute changes in weather patterns they are experiencing on their farms to climate change. As someone who got into farming because she is motivated by environmental conservation and social justice and wanted to provide for her community, Alicia identifies the need for support for young farmers like her. When forecasts are increasingly unpredictable, development is encroaching on prime agricultural lands, and surrounding farms are still heavily spraying their fields, and burning their old plastic row cover, she notes that she can’t address it all on her own. The National Young Farmers Coalition’s chapter, the South Florida Young Farmers Coalition, has been an important network for Alicia and farmers in her region who are on the front lines of climate change and managing its impacts on their stress and mental health. “I hope all farmers feel a sense of support,” Alicia shares. “Without that, the negative thoughts start to come in.” 

Are you a farmer looking for support for farm stress or other mental health challenges? Our partners at Farm Aid manage a 24-hour hotline. Whether you are a beginning or established farmer, you can call their Farmer Hotline at 1-800-FARM-AID. Their Farmer Services team can point you towards helpful resources that match your needs. 

Si necesita hablar con el equipo de servicios directamente, llámenos al 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243). La línea directa en español está disponible de lunes a viernes de 9am – 5pm hora del este; 6am – 2pm hora pacifico.

Cultivemos (formerly known as FRSAN-NE, the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network Northeast) is another resource that aims to improve behavioral health awareness, literacy, access, and outcomes for farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers in the Northeast by developing a service provider network that can assist and meet the unique needs of agricultural workers. Learn more about Cultivemos and join their quarterly newsletter here.

About MegaFood® 

MegaFood, a Certified B Corporation and 1% for the Planet Partner, leverages its 50+ years of scientific know-how to expertly craft the most efficacious, planet-first supplements powered by plants. Driven by the belief in the power of plants to nurture the health of people and planet, MegaFood works with trusted farm partners who share its commitment to organic and regenerative agriculture. MegaFood’s products are tested for 150+ pesticides and carry third-party certifications, such as Non-GMO Project Verified & Certified Glyphosate Residue Free. The brand is also Certified Plastic Neutral through its partnership with rePurpose and has enabled the recovery of over 350,000 pounds of nature-bound plastic to date, equivalent to nearly 9 million plastic bottles. 

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