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Producing Excellence

Brenton Johnson

Austin, TX

Johnson’s Backyard Garden

Products: Fresh, organic produce

Size of Operation: 205 acres

In Business Since: 2005

Farm Credit Partner: Capital Farm Credit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2006

Brenton Johnson, owner of JBG Organic Inc, dba Johnson’s Backyard Garden in Austin, Texas, can attest to the popularity of locally grown food. In 2005, he planted a 30-foot by 50-foot garden in his urban backyard. It soon expanded and he started selling his produce in the local market. Today, he operates a 205-acre organic vegetable farm as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. With 90 employees, more than 1,700 members in four cities and gross sales of $3.5 million annually, it is one of the largest Organic vegetable farms in the southern United States.

The venture took off when Johnson started growing more than his family could eat, and started selling his organic vegetables at a local farmers market. Before long, he needed to purchase land for his growing business, and when profits increased sufficiently, Brenton, who has a degree in agricultural engineering, quit his government job to become a full-time farmer.

Brenton structured his business as a CSA farm, a model in which members pay in advance for a share of the upcoming harvest, which ensures a consistent market for the farmer and high quality produce for the consumer. Today, Brenton’s farm provides fresh organic produce to CSA members, local restaurants and grocery retailers, including major chains like Whole Foods, HEB/Central Market, and at farmers markets. He has also established his own delivery system, with trucks bringing his CSA boxes to points around Austin and to locations in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

Along the way, he’s financed both land and equipment with Capital Farm Credit. “You can’t talk to Brenton for long without seeing how passionate he is about what he’s doing,” says Mark Rutledge, Capital Farm Credit credit office president. “And he is also a good businessman. Every time he has approached us about a loan, he has had a good business plan lined out.”

Brenton has a passion for organic and sustainable farming and wants to share it. He invites volunteers to work on his Austin farms and make a connection to where their food comes from. He also offers internships to college students who spend a summer working at his farm operations. He recently expanded his community outreach by co-founding Farmshare Austin, a nonprofit whose mission is to accelerate organic food access in Central Texas through new farmer education, research, farmland preservation, and innovative food access programs. “I wish there had been a program like this when I was starting out,” Brenton says. “Helping new and aspiring farmers learn how to make a living as an organic farmer is an important step in increasing the amount of organic produce available to the community.”

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