Why we give to Puente: Potrero Nuevo Farm and Blue House Farm

Puente’s commitment to providing fresh, local produce to the people who can least afford it has always been contingent on the cooperation of local farmers and ranchers – passionate food advocates who donate produce or sell it at Puente’s Pescadero Grown! Farmer’s Markets.

And nowhere has that vision found more bedrock support than with Potrero Nuevo Farm and Blue House Farm, two small farms a short drive from Puente’s headquarters in Pescadero.

This year, Potrero Nuevo Farm (which means “new pastures”) will donate a staggering 6,000 pounds of fresh-picked farm produce to Puente (and another 6,000 pounds to Catholic Worker House of Half Moon Bay) – food that Puente uses at program events and distributes to individual Program participants.

“They’re basically growing food so that other people can eat healthfully,” says Puente Executive Director Kerry Lobel.

Bay Area philanthropists Bill Laven and Christine Pielenz founded Potrero Nuevo Farm in 2008 in the spirit of the social justice work they’d done together for many years. They wanted to feed struggling South Coast families and educate children about the value of farming. Today, the farm donates 85 percent of the food it grows.

“It’s great to feed people who can’t even afford food from Safeway sometimes,” says Laven.

Founded in 2005, Blue House Farm was at the vanguard of a group of small, organic cultivators who started tilling plots along South Coast at that time. Co-founders Ryan Casey and Ned Conwell heard about Puente’s efforts to locate affordable, nutritious food for local Mexican families – people who could often only afford processed foods, or couldn’t make the trip up to Half Moon Bay for fruit and vegetables.

Blue House Farm started distributing their weekly CSA boxes (Community-Supported Agriculture – a seasonal selection of produce) to Puente, which gave the boxes to local mothers who had completed a nutrition education course.

“I think giving people in Pescadero some broader food options is an important thing,” says Casey, who now owns Blue House Farm alone and runs it with members of his staff.

Blue House was among the first farms to participate in Pescadero Grown! when the markets were in a germination phase and Casey is one of Puente’s most stalwart supporters.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Puente at the farmer’s market. I hope it continues,” he says.

Both Potrero Nuevo and Blue House Farm will be honored for their contributions to Puente and the South Coast communities at Puente’s annual volunteer appreciation event, to be held on October 21.

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