As businesses closed in mid-March, Yahweh All Natural Farm and Garden owners Saul and Diana Padilla faced unexpected challenges that came in response to the pandemic.
The restrictions felt as if they came from one day to the next, Diana said. Facing economic hardship, they found their options were slim after learning the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and the Payment Protection Plan (PPP) were not offered to agricultural businesses.
“But from bad things, sometimes good things arise,” Diana said.
“A friend reached out and told us about the EDC loan. We were missing out on SBA funds and we didn’t think we would qualify for this loan, but we did!”
Despite the restrictions, they were able to continue serving a community they had served since 2008, and in the process, they embraced new techniques to keep their business running.
“We have increased our online purchasing options and we are getting a big response,” she said.
“People want organic and we are reaching people through our Facebook page and on our website.”
Diana added that as chain grocers were being wiped clean as panic set in before the shelter-in-place orders came, she saw business pick up at the farm.
“One thing that happened was that people were scared to go to the supermarket and they knew that we had chicken, eggs, pork, and beef. People ended up wiping us out!”
Offering more of the farm products online has benefitted the farm and Diana will use the money from the HELP for Small Business loan to be more aggressive in their marketing. The money will also help pay employees currently on staff.
The online store offers a Community Supported Agriculture membership that allows members to select from different levels of produce boxes. Diana added that they plan to increase online sales and box memberships.
Other plans include creating a Twitch channel – a video live-streaming service – to connect with a broader audience by offering recipe suggestions for the produce available at the farm.
“If your heart is in what you’re doing, you will find a way to keep doing what you’re doing,” she said simply.
“I have watched other business owners and I saw them hustle and the figure out how to keep their business running.”
Yahweh All Natural Farm and Garden is a USDA Certified Organic produce farm located off of Rangerville Road in Harlingen. The farm serves the entire Rio Grande Valley and has various pick-up locations in Harlingen, Brownsville, McAllen, and Weslaco.