Maxi Greens Farm
Sitting down with Lola Mijangos (via Zoom), it was clear that she was very aware of her father’s love for farming. “Yes, it does pay the bills, and he does make a profit. But really, he farms because he loves it,” Lola said.
Her father, Paulie Mijangos, started Maxi Greens Farm in 2007. He had purchased a 5-acre land after working on other farms for 15 years, wanting to start his own local farm. And soon, those 5 acres turned into 10, then 15, and now 20.
Lola remembers working with her sister on the farm, bundling flowers and washing vegetables. Now, she serves as her father’s communicator as she helps her father expand his client base. In her own words, she is helping her father advocate for himself in the market.
Over the years, Lola has kept in touch with the changing of clients and the overall business of owning a small farm. Unlike big agriculture, small local farms must be more resourceful in finding clients and customers. For Maxi Greens, Lola knew her father would be best off if he catered to a certain demographic of people who will remain faithful to the business. Those people include lovers of fresh, local produce and supporters of local Bay Area farms over factory-sourced supermarket produce. And that is a reason why Lola reached out to Farmers Market On Wheels; we are a prime spot for community members that support local small farmers.
But another reason was COVID-19. At the end of March, around the onset of the pandemic, Paulie lost a good amount of crops. The anxiety and sorrow of watching the crops he had tended to over the winter season waste away into the earth was the first sign that the pandemic would not be kind to Paulie and other local farmers.
And not only was it difficult to find customers during the onset of the pandemic, but price their produce to earn a living. Lola said that small farmers all across the board are being impacted because they have to sell their produce for very cheap in order to compete with supermarket prices. Before, in higher-end supermarkets, produce was more expensive; now, with the pandemic, Lola is worried the current low prices will drive small farmers off the playing field.
So now, farmers have resulted in re-tilling their land, or killing their crops, because the cost of harvesting is no longer economical with prices being so low. But, FMOW was a solution for Lola and her father.
As their first client of the season, Lola is hopeful that working with FMOW will send the correct message to getting small farmers back on their feet: “When you shop at a grocery store, it’s sourced from an assembly line. When you shop at Farmers Market on Wheels, it's fresh from the ground, into a box, and straight to your door.”
Now, Lola is watching her father’s love for farming spring back to life. She reminisced on her father’s early morning routine, kept up through all his years of farming: waking up before 5 am, driving to the farm, and watering the plants “with a headlamp and a cup of coffee.” And after the sunset, Paulie continues to farm and uses floodlights to see in the dark. Now, he is continuing his same-old routine with expectations that his produce will make its way to a hungry mouth.
“He texts me like twice a week saying, ‘Hey tell (FMOW) we have this vegetable now,’ but the pictures are really ugly so I have to drive to the farm and take them myself,” Lola says with a laugh. “He’s just really excited.”
While the pandemic has left many small farmers worried and uncertain about their survival, Paulie’s love for farming and Lola’s love for her father has proven its strength in keeping them going. And along the way, Farmers Market on Wheels is here to help them as well, but only with the support of our customers.
“He loves (farming) and I see it in his work every day,” Lola said. And when you taste their freshly harvested cherry tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and more, you’ll see it too.