Operation Farm and Run

Scale an existing program that restores indigenous Tarahumara farms that were devastated by drought in the remote Mexican Copper Canyons.

Photo of shane
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Operation Farm and Run by Health Warrior.

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 50 - 100

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • Mexico

Headquarters location: City


Location(s) of impact

Greater Copper Canyons. Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango, Sonora, Sinaloa.



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Twitter URL


Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The Tarahumara are one of the most unique cultures on earth. They are also one of the poorest. An agrarian culture, severe droughts devasted their entire region over a three year period. Most farms are five to ten acres and faced massive soil degradation and loss of seed stock. There are no other jobs in the Copper Canyons, one of the most stunning geographies in the world. The Tarahumara are also some of the most famous endurance athletes on the planet. Their training is their lifestyle, but their lifestyle is at risk.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The program Health Warrior developed restores their farms with funds for clearing, soil generation, seed stock, and jobs for planting, care, and harvest. The Tarahumara are growing value-added crops that can be sold for a profit throughout Mexico. Our plan was to nail it and then scale it. We have raised over $75,000 to date and restored five farms over two seasons. There are thousands of farms waiting for the program to reach them.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

We have created hundreds of jobs and restored five Tarahumara farms to date. The program has received attention from national media, including Outside Magazine and ESPN.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Health Warrior, Inc. has funded the program to date through charitable donations to the Tarahumara. There is an existing Mexican not-for-profit entity as well as an approved 501c3 donation vehicle administered by Global Giving in Washington D.C. The plan is to marry the earned income potential of value-added crops with ongoing corporate contributions, gifts, and grants.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

No one else is doing work to help the Tarahumara restore their farms and culture.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

This project was originally sparked by the best-selling book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and the incredible work of the Harvard Evolutionary Biology Department Chair Dr. Daniel Lieberman with the Tarahumara in the Copper Canyons. The project leaders are Mickey Mahaffey, an American who has lived in the Canyons for decades, and Cecy Villalobos, the former Vice Mayor of Urique (the Capital). See: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27well.html and http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/sports/caballo-blancos-last-run-the-micah-true-story.html?pagewanted=all

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Nestlé page or contact

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Prakash Tyagi

Dear Shane - thank you for your ideas. A lot of similarities with our conditions in India. In your area, what causes droughts? Is it deficient rains? Do you work on rainwater harvesting?

What resources you use for training farmers on new crops and marketing etc., as you mention? How do you plan to expand your important work?