Jimena Rábago Aguilar (’09, México)
After graduating and taking a year off to care for her newborn son, Jimena consulted for a variety of projects ranging from urban farming to carbon accounting and mitigation. As she explored these potential career paths, Jimena also completed several specialized post-graduate certificate programs in organic agriculture. This led her to La Carrodilla Farm, an organic vineyard being built in Ensenada, Baja California. Traveling back and forth from her home in Mexico City, Jimena designed and oversaw the implementation of a farm management plan, focusing on building soil health through composting and the inclusion of cover crops.
In 2013, she moved to Ensenada to oversee farm operations for La Carrodilla and the La Lomita vineyards, incorporating into the model the small-scale production of olives, vegetables, poultry, lamb and dairy cows. In 2015, she assumed responsibility for the storage and aging process, becoming the manager of field production and wine cellars for both vineyards. In total, she supervises about 20 employees.
“The farms’ soils show interesting progress and we have learned a lot about how to do organic agriculture in arid zones,” remarks Jimena. She adds that they are generating information about producing healthy food with limited resources and plan to scientifically measure indicators of sustainability. Jimena is also deeply motivated by how the farm is helping promote more equitable economic development. With the support of the farms’ owners, she designed a microenterprise model for their alternate crops. Employees are partners in the microenterprise and share 50 percent of the profits. She has also shown flexibility and provided financial support to employees who wish to continue their studies.
“The social conditions and agricultural management in the Valle de Guadalupe are tremendous examples of inequality and exploitation of resources. I have sought to create an alternate model in which we care for people and use fewer resources in an increasingly more intelligent way,” notes Jimena.
Becoming more empathic was one of the big outcomes Jimena attributes to her time at EARTH, noting: “At EARTH, I lived and studied with students from many different cultures and social contexts. Being immersed together in such a transformative experience erased all the barriers that this could have represented. I learned that truly we are all equal.”
EARTH, she says, gave her direction. And now she has the tools and the love to work ceaselessly for change that fosters wellbeing.
She adds, “The values and knowledge I learned at EARTH motivated me to keep learning more and to always work to achieve the delicate balance between productivity, environmental sustainability and social justice…Studying at EARTH transformed me into a person who profoundly wants to do things well and also has the tools to do so.”