A native of Imperial Valley, Myrna P. Arambula hasn’t always been one of the leading female farmers in the area. The daughter of a farmer, Arambula would always have a soft spot for farming, despite pursuing a career as a locksmith for the California State Penal System.
Wanting more for herself, Arambula eventually fulfilled a lifelong dream a few years ago when she found a niche market in organic herb farming in a sea of conventional monocrops. Initially, Arambula utilized two previously-owned tractors to conduct business, but they seemed to make work that much more difficult.
With the help of Jose Luis Herrera, a Soil Conservationist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Imperial, Arambula was able to apply for funding to purchase a newer, more efficient tractor while increasing air quality, which she received in April 2017. Nowadays, Arambula is able to farm more than 15 acres of organic herbs including basil, tarragon, sage, thyme, chives, and dill, which she’ll plant this fall.
A lifelong steward of the land, Arambula crafts her own organic insect repellents using garlic, cayenne pepper, and onions, as well, neem oil. Her next project entails planting lemongrass to act as a natural pest deterrent, as well as implementing a high tunnel planned through NRCS to protect her organic basil from the fierce winds of the Valley.
In addition to organic farming, Arambula emphasizes female empowerment through her all-female workforce, and elevates the women that surround her into leadership positions in the industry by sharing resources to obtain business licenses. Through her work, more women are becoming empowered to not only pursue farm work, but also purchase and operate their own farms, further increasing the rate of female-owned businesses in the Valley, and diversifying NRCS services.
Working with NRCS to implement a long-term conservation plan with the NRCS, Arambula is a huge success story, and inspiration for young women throughout California.
By Shiloh Green, NRCS Imperial Farm Bill Assistant and Jose Luis Herrera, Soil Conservationist