Finding America’s Farmworkers

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore

The Secret Lives of America’s Migrant Farmers
Considering the farmworker
It ain’t just tobacco
500 miles from Immokolee
Handcuffed in defense of farmworker rights
Land of the free? Not for US farmworker according to visiting British MPs
Cultivating farmworker advocates, one student at a time
These vecinos are more than just neighbors
A Chavez for here and now
Father Tony
The lives of child farmworkers in their own pictures and words
The nice camp
Considering the farmworker: What I’ve learned

From the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry blog
An App for the Ministry

Finding America’s Farmworkers

After nearly ten years of volunteering with farmworker aid organizations and writing some articles and blog posts, I thought I knew a lot about the men and women who plant, cultivate, and harvest the crops that fill the produce sections of our grocery stores. I was wrong. I had been to dozens of labor camps,…

The Secret Lives of America’s Migrant Farmers

Published on Narratively on September 3, 2014… An innovative college program opens privileged young eyes to the million undocumented laborers who toil away in an invisible America. Story and photos by Michael Durbin… It’s early June at Camp Chestnut Ridge in Efland, North Carolina. Towering pines outside the dining hall are still dripping after a…

Considering the farmworker: What I’ve learned

I’m a Wall Street technology manager. Two years ago I set out, citizen journalist style, to learn and write about people whose lives are very different from mine: migrant farmworkers. These are the men, women and children who harvest most of the fresh produce you see at America’s grocery stores. I’ll share what I learned…

The Nice Camp

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… Last summer I accompanied some college students doing educational and health care outreach at migrant farmworker camps. They were generally dismal places, ill-maintained and no place I’d ever want to spend the night. Except for one. It was mid July. Hot. I’d been traveling all day with Julie…

The lives of child farmworkers in their own pictures and words

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… Each year, a little-known contest by a little-known agency in Washington, DC lets children of migrant farmworkers portray their lives in essays and drawings. The annual contest by the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs invites these children to submit essays and artwork for judging by a panel, with…

Father Tony

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… He’s collected a small mountain of donated toothbrushes and T-shirts but what he really needs are pants: About four thousand pair. Father Jesus Antonio Rojas, known by all as Father Tony, runs the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry in Dunn, North Carolina. From an airy facility about an hour south…

A Chavez for here and now

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… For many migrant farmworkers, things haven’t changed much since the 1970s when the legendary activist Cesar Chavez co-founded, with Dolores Huerta, the union known today as the United Farm Workers. Today in North Carolina and surrounding states, the people working one of the most dangerous jobs in America…

These vecinos are more than just neighbors

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… We were lost. That’s what I concluded from the back of the minivan going up and down mountain roads in western North Carolina, past tiny homes and trailer parks that tourists rarely see. “The note says look for an RV next to a dumpster.” Devereaux was in the…

Cultivating farmworker advocates, one student at a time

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… Like many farmworker advocates, Melinda Wiggins can rattle off a long list of injustices faced by the people who harvest America’s food — stagnant wages, unsafe working conditions, housing often unfit for human habitation, and one she finds particularly unconscionable: Many farmworkers aren’t allowed visitors in the camps…

Handcuffed in defense of farmworker rights

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omivore… The irate grower cut off conversation. “I’m giving you to the count of five to get off my property. Five, four, three…” Union organizer Raul Jimenez stood firm. “Two! One!! Okay lock him up.” The sheriff snapped on the cuffs. This is what I saw late last night…

500 miles from Immokalee

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… Danny should feel comfortable here and the tomato pickers should see him as one of their own. But he doesn’t, and they don’t. Eighteen-year-old Daniel Guzman is in a labor camp in the South Carolina Lowcountry, some 500 miles away from Immokalee, Florida where he grew up in…

It ain’t just tobacco

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… Thanks to a recent feature on The Daily Show and a slew of media attention (links below) a lot more people are now aware of the problem of children working in U.S. tobacco fields. This attention is a very good thing, but the problem goes way beyond tobacco:…

Considering the farmworker

From my 2014 blog The Considerate Omnivore… Given how corporatized, mechanized and super-sized American food production has become, I wonder how many people know that the harvesting of fruits and vegetables is still done mostly by hand. It is. Much of what you see in the produce aisle was picked by migrant farmworkers. These men,…