Santa Cruz, CA
Larry the Miracle, is a name bestowed upon Larry Jacobs by the organic farmers of Productos Organicos Del Cabo. Rightly so, for he and his wife, Sandra Belin, have worked miracles with the organic growers and their farming communities located at the very tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. Today, the organic growers of the Del Cabo co-op produce and export volumes of high quality certified organic cherry tomatoes, sweet basil, cucumbers, squashes, eggplants and various other organic wares to markets in the United States, Canada and Europe. The farmers' standard of living has improved tremendously while their communities thrive from the proceeds of the organic sales. The Del Cabo organic cooperative is a true success story, one in which Larry Jacobs and Sandra Belin have played important roles and are continuing to do so.
In 1985, Larry and Sandra were visiting the beautiful and remote Baja Peninsula when it became apparent to them that the subsistence farmers, who were eking out meager livings on their small acreages, could do much better under organic production. Larry also envisioned a co-op business partnership between his 30 acre family farm Jacobs Farm, and the Baja growers. Jacobs Farm, located in Pescadero California, had established a niche market in San Francisco since 1980 through its sales of certified organic culinary herbs to specialty stores and restaurants. Market demand was growing in California, resulting in an increasing shortage of organic produce especially during the US winter months. With a Baja alliance, Larry could supply the Californian market and beyond with organic produce year-round. The co-op partnership could become a symbiotic relationship beneficial to all parties.
To combat devastating insect invasions, Larry performed miracles with beneficial insects, thus earning him the name "El Milagro Lorenzo." Concoctions of dried seaweed, milk and sugar were applied to attract "good" insects and foliar feed plants. Beneficial insects were raised in insect cages and later released in fields. Since the use of beneficial insects in agriculture was unfamiliar to Mexican growers and government officials, Larry had to contend with government extension workers recommending chemical sprays while he was introducing beneficial insects. To win over local government officials, he began running regular seminars teaching how beneficial insects work in a farm ecosystem and how chemicals disrupt their impact. It wasn't long before the same government workers, now convinced of the effectiveness of beneficial insects, were also recommending organic practices to growers.