Bilingual class sets farmers up for business resilience

David Mancera, a business skills advisor for California FarmLink, helped develop Spanish-language curriculum to teach farmers and farmworkers in the Salinas Valley in farm-business management.
Photo/California FarmLink


Farm students in Salinas receive instruction as part of California FarmLink’s farm-business education program.
Photo/California FarmLink



Farmer and son Raul and Juan Murillo completed the program that helped them create a limited liability corporation for the family farm.
Photo/Courtesy of Juan Murillo


By John Watson 


After his immigrant father founded an organic farm in Salinas 15 years ago, Juan Murillo went to work in the field to support his father’s dream of operating a farming business.

Since then, Murillo has honed his administrative skills to guide the future of the family’s El Zenzontle Organic Farms in Salinas. He completed and filed the company’s income taxes and helped his family convert the business to a limited liability corporation.

Murillo credits his farm business skills to a California FarmLink course called “El Resilerador” in Spanish and “The Resilerator” in English. The program promotes resilience by offering instruction in building responsible, profitable and sustainable farming businesses. It teaches farm employers how to improve the workplace environment and create high-quality jobs.

Murillo said his goal in taking the course, which he completed in Salinas, was to build on the farming dream of his father, Raul Murillo, by producing opportunity and wealth for the family and for future generations.

“I want to pass along the knowledge that I gather and share it with family members who are young and can keep the business running in years to come,” he said.

The Resilerator course was developed by California FarmLink consultant Poppy Davis, who supports design and delivery of the nonprofit’s educational programs and advises on policy and management.

The course, intended for Spanish-speaking farmers and livestock producers, combines farm business curriculum and informal peer networking.

Noting that farming and complying with rules and regulations is difficult for farmers who are educated and born in the U.S., Davis explained it is even more challenging for immigrants with limited English-language skills.

For nonprofits nationwide, Davis said she has offered short courses taught in English on many farm business topics. She occasionally includes Spanish-language translators.

While she experimented with different formats and curricula to provide comprehensive farm business education, she concluded that “simultaneous translation is not a good way to learn because so much can be lost through a translator.”

California FarmLink business skills advisor David Mancera, a native Spanish speaker, joined Davis to develop Spanish-language curriculum and incorporate cultural contextualizing into translation of course content. Participants in the program may enroll in Spanish or English classes.

Mancera said students include an equal mix of women and men and pairing of parents and grown children and married farm owners.

“El Resilerador is successfully training a new generation of food producers,” Mancera said. “It’s a talent pool of farmers.”

California FarmLink, a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution based in Aptos, provides agricultural loans and educational programs as part of its mission of investing in prosperity and the well-being of farmers, ranchers and fishers who have limited access to financial resources.

FarmLink offers the El Resilerador course in a classroom setting. Since the course was introduced in 2020, when it was taught online, it has been refined from a wide-ranging 10-week class to a more focused eight-week program.

Murillo completed the 10-week business fundamentals course a few years ago with his father. The younger Murillo returned this year for the taxation version of the course.

“The 10-week class helped our family decide to become an LLC, and the most recent course has shown me how to be well prepared for the tax season,” Murillo said.

Having just completed the farm’s taxes this year, he said he plans to hire an accountant in the future.

Hiring professional help can be difficult for immigrant farm owners, who typically have extensive farm production experience in their home countries but often lack experience in a professional office setting. Davis suggested that this environment can be intimidating.

Many immigrants have agricultural experience with foreign governments that operate differently from the California government, Davis added.

“Enforcement and consequences are very different in other countries,” Davis said. “It can be difficult for these farmers to adopt an American way of doing business to understand how to comply with regulations and to understand the consequences of failure to comply.”

To be considered for the FarmLink course, applicants must have owned a farm business for at least two years and demonstrate experience and production knowledge.

“Where we step in is on the business knowledge side,” said Andrea Levy, a Venezuelan-born senior program manager at California FarmLink. “Most of these folks didn’t go into farming to run a business. They want to produce and to make a living for their families.

“Most are first generation or children of immigrants who have no experience with the business and legal aspects of farm ownership,” she added.

“El Resilerador provides access to that knowledge,” Levy added.

A key component of the course is networking, Levy said, noting that “one of El Resilerador’s biggest successes is in community building and a sharing of resources, both during and outside of the classroom.”

The course ends with students setting realistic goals for improving their farm business practices during the subsequent two to three years.

Graduates of the El Resilerador program may be eligible for one-on-one technical assistance, bookkeeping clinics and occasional workshops on more advanced topics. They may also qualify for recovery and resilience loans with zero interest or fees through California FarmLink.

To learn more about the California FarmLink El Resilerador program, visit

(John Watson is a reporter based in Nevada County. He may be contacted at

Permission for use is granted. However, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation