Yahweh All-Natural Farm and Garden is owned and operated by Saul and Diana Padilla in Harlingen, Texas.
Raised on a farm in Canatlan, Durango, Mexico, farming is second nature for Saul. Diana, a native of Puerto Rico, developed a sincere appreciation for farm-fresh produce when she worked as a chef in fine restaurants in Chicago. While the couple lived in Indiana, they grew accustomed to purchasing fresh produce at local farmers markets.
In 2004, they relocated to Harlingen, Texas. They soon realized the need and demand for specialty farm products in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Since starting their small garden in 2004, the Padilla family has now expanded their garden into a three acre farm consisting of all-natural, organic produce. They have also joined the Farmer's Market in Brownsville and Harlingen, TX where they sell all of their produce every week.
The Padillas worked with the local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office District Conservationist Oz Longoria to help them develop a conservation plan and identify practices to help them reach their goals for their operation.
The NRCS assisted the Padillas with cross-fencing for their livestock operation, land leveling for more efficient use of water on their flood irrigated crops and drip irrigation for targeted application of controlled amounts of water on their vegetables. This past year they installed a rain water catchment system with a 9,000 gallon capacity to capture rainwater to water their garden.
"The NRCS has been such a wonderful support system for what we are trying to do here," Diana says. "They have provided us assistance with things we didn't know how to do" like make our land level so we didn't have one part that was watered too much and another part not enough.
"The best part is all of the things we have done through NRCS to help our operation," she says. "These improvements save us water, money and time. The drip irrigation system especially saves a lot of time in weeding because we only water what we want to grow."
Diana says the financial assistance they received from NRCS to install the conservation practices helped them expand their specialty crop growing area from 100 square feet to three acres. They have plans to expand to eight acres.
"I think it is really important that we change the way we are treating our environment and our body," Diana explains of their conservation efforts with their organic farm. "We grow the food the best way that we can. And then the food tastes so much better when you grow it, harvest it and eat it in a few days. You can't get that from a store."
The Padillas are helping to educate other people interested in growing their own produce through H.O.P.E. for Small Farming Sustainability. H.O.P.E. stands for Holistic practices, Outreach, Practical training and Education. They currently host farm tours and provide hands-on training to people that want to plant a garden, even if it's in their urban backyard.
"What they see us do they can go home and start doing," Diana says. "We have people right there to answer questions and help them get started right away."
They have purchased land which will eventually become a community garden for Harlingen residents to have room to grow vegetable to eat and sell at local Farmer's Markets.
With such great results on their original farm, the Padillas have already requested technical assistance from the NRCS office to help with conservation planning and development on this second tract of land as well.
Since starting their small garden in 2004, Diana and Saul Padilla have branched out to farmers market and garden education efforts in their community.
Saul has a farming background, an experience he enjoys sharing with his customers at the farmers markets where the Padillas sell their fresh produce.
High tunnels, or hoop like this one the Padillas use, extend the growing season for their vegetables. This is a critical income booster for local food producers, helps protect natural resources and improves community access to healthy, local food earlier and later in the year.
Healthy, fresh picked produce from Yahweh's All Natural Farm & Garden in Harlingen, Texas.