Claudio grew up in Mexico watching his parent, which made him very keen and passionate about working the land. Since Claudio’s move to the United States 20 years ago, he has worked on farms in upstate New York and found seasonal employment at different factories during the winter months. Fascinated by the variety of produce that is grown in the U.S., Claudio made a decision seven years ago to rent land and start a farm of his own farm – sustained with support from the Grow NYC New Farmer Development program.
When Hurricane Irene swept through upstate New York – devastating crops from Claudio's farm – it was his loyal Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members that took immediate action to save his business. By collectively pooling their savings, Claudio’s CSA was able offset lost income and monetary damages and kept Claudio’s farm from going under. This demonstration of un-coerced, homegrown support is no less organic than the farm fresh vegetables Claudio has been selling for over seven years. With a variety of over 50 types of vegetables sold at six different markets throughout New York City, Claudio has amassed a dedicated following of patrons that can quickly discern the quality of Claudio’s produce.
In 2011, Claudio searched for loan capital to help cover the cost of his next batch of seedlings for the spring, but like other immigrant entrepreneurs, a short credit history made it challenging for him to secure funding for his business. As a member of Grow NYC, Claudio attended a financing workshop on Dec. 1 and met ACCION USA Business Development Officer Erica Dorn, who saw potential in Claudio’s business. “I really saw some strengths in Claudio, particularly with his business momentum and strong CSA relationships,” said Erica. Looking beyond Claudio’s credit score, ACCION USA approved a microloan for seedlings, helping Claudio to stabilize his business during tough winter months.