Organic Industry Experiences Benefits of TOPP Firsthand

Grassroots networking and communication are key to spreading the word about opportunities available through the USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP). TOPP regional leads are planting boots on the ground to connect producers interested in transitioning to organic with organic farmers interested in mentoring them.

In early summer, Southwest TOPP Regional Lead California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) toured Domitila Tapia’s operation, Mimi’s Organic Farm is a 67-acre berry and vegetable farm in Watsonville, California. A part of Mimi’s Organic Farm was certified organic in 2015. The tour highlighted how the TOPP participant is receiving support in transitioning her remaining acreage to certified organic. As a Spanish-speaking program participant, Domitila receives technical assistance in Spanish for activities including completing organic certification paperwork.

CCOF’s private and philanthropic partners also awarded Mimi’s Organic Farm grant funding aimed at helping underserved farmers build more regenerative food systems, advance equity in agriculture, and scale sustainable farming practices. The funding is helping Mimi’s Organic Farm expand organic acreage and increase the availability of sustainably grown fruits and vegetables.

The recent CCOF tour of Domitila’s operation included local organic industry professionals interested in seeing how operations can benefit from TOPP. The tour showcased how the much-needed TOPP resources can help grow the organic community and provide equal opportunity for anyone interested in transitioning to organic. The tour highlighted challenges non-English speaking and transitioning producers face and offered first-hand learning experiences for organic certification reviewers and inspectors.

About the Transition to Organic Partnership Program

The USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) is investing up to $100 million over five years in cooperative agreements with non-profit organizations that are partnering with others to provide technical assistance and wrap-around support for transitioning and existing organic farmers. USDA built partnership networks in six regions across the United States with trusted organizations serving direct farmer training, education, and outreach activities.

Southwest Regional Lead California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) partners with organizations experienced in the organic industry to provide mentoring services, technical assistance, community building, and organic workforce development for transitioning and existing organic farmers.

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