Published Mar 2, 2021

Navegando el Acceso Agrario / Navigating Land Access – 2021 Virtual Annual Conference

By Practical Farmers of Iowa


One of the main hurdles beginning farmers face is accessing land.

Beyond the high cost of land and lack of access to financial capital, discriminatory lending and difficulty finding small parcels of land for farmers who wish to operate at a smaller scale can add additional burdens to the land access challenge. Hear how Justino Borja navigated through the land access process and built a relationship with Virgil Tworek-Hofstetter, the landowner Justino now leases from.

Note: Justino Borja is a native-Spanish speaker so this session will be conducting bilingually. Lucia Schultz will help with interpretation.

  • Justino Borja was raised on a farm in Mexico that grew corn, pumpkins, sorghum and beans. He has leased half an acre from Virgil for the past three years and cultivates tomatoes and jalapeño, serrano and bell peppers. Justino’s hope is to own land and diversify his farm by adding strawberries, goats and more vegetables.
  • Lucia Schulz is a project assistant for the Farm and Community Program with the Center for Rural Affairs. Her work is centered around encouraging Latino farmers to network, educate and lead.
  • Virgil Tworek-Hofstetter and his wife, Mary, have farmed for 20 years with his father, Stanley, near Columbus, Nebraska. While teaching English as a Second Language classes he met Justino, one of his students. After a visit to Virgil’s farm, Justino and his family eagerly agreed the offer to lease and operate a portion of the farm.