the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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wages, immigration, and a labor shortage on california farms

CA Fruit Picking

According to a recent article in the LA Times, wages are up for farm workers in California and some farms are even offering perks (think 401(k), health care, vacation days, and profit-sharing bonuses) that were often unheard of in the world of agriculture. So why, then, are farmers struggling with what sounds like a crippling labor shortage? Paired with an increasingly restrictive immigration policy, the article suggests that it’s because native-born Americans simply don’t want to work in the fields:

But the raises and new perks have not tempted native-born Americans to leave their day jobs for the fields. Nine in 10 agriculture workers in California are still foreign born, and more than half are undocumented, according to a federal survey.

What do you think? Although the article has its holes and shortcomings, it’s a great start to a debate that must be had in California and throughout the country. Give the entire piece a read by clicking HERE.


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ice detained migrant farmer activists: thousands responded.

Though those who live farther away from the muddy melting snow of Southern New England, may not have caught wind of the migrant rights struggle that has been playing out between farms and courthouses around the region, it’s worth everyone’s attention.

Since the ICE arrest and detention of farmworkers and Migrant Justice leaders Jose Enrique “Kike” Balcazar Sanchez and Zully Palacios Rodriguez on March 16, hundreds of people have gathered around Vermont and in Boston to demand the young activists release. Migrant Justice is a Vermont-based organization that organizes three regional migrant worker communities to advocate for human rights and economic justice. Especially considering some of the anecdotes in this excellent piece by LatinoUSA.org on their case, it is hard to imagine a scenario in which immigration officials are not intentionally targeting human rights leaders for deportation.

Both are in their early twenties, neither with any prior arrests, and they were on their way home from the Migrant Justice center when they were stopped. Balcazar, as LatinoUSA reports, “is an active community organizer in Vermont, and served on Vermont attorney general T.J. Donovan’s Immigrant Task Force, which was created in January as a response to President Trump’s immigration executive orders.”

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call for film submissions for change making tool-kits

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Real Food Films is calling for filmmakers to submit projects by April 1st that correspond to the themes of:

  • Crafting Public Policies for Public Health: Taking on Big Soda
  • Building Power with Food Workers
  • Tackling Climate Change Through Food

Selected films will be included in their 2017 Organizing Toolkits, which will be jam-packed with educational materials for groups and individuals interested in working in food system reform.


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when farms are not fair

Fair Food: Field To Table is a video project of the California Institute for Rural Studies, a nonprofit research organization whose mission is to “increase social justice in rural California for all residents, building sustainable communities based on a healthy agriculture.” Their research takes a keen look at the often-obscured lives of California farm workers in the form of research reports, videos, and action plans. They form strong relationships with grassroots organizations and farm worker communities in order to “turn research into action.”

Needless to say how important and progressive this work is.

Tune into the Greenhorns Radio on Heritage Radio Network tomorrow at 4:00 P.M. to hear us speak with Ildi Carlisle-Cummins, the Project Director at CIRS and learn more. Or, download the podcast any time!


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NPR’s the salt puts spotlight on industrial ag workers

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Photo by Dan Charles/NPR

We don’t often see mainstream media outlets report on the often invisible farm workers that hold up so much of American agriculture– let alone do in depth and humanizing interviews with them. So, in case you missed it, we wanted to bring your attention to a series created by Dan Charles for NPR’s The Salt in which Charles interviews the largely-Hispanic migrant immigrant workers on sweet potato, apple, orange, strawberry, and blueberry farms. Even for those of us who have worked on smaller-scale farms, a look into the lives of workers on these gigantic combines is both fascinating and critical. We can’t recommend a listen more highly.

You can read Charles’s summary of his findings here and follow his links to listen to each piece individually.


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new york farm workers rally and walk for bargaining rights and decent working conditions

200miles

Enter a caption ruralmigrantministry.org

Walking the 200 miles from Long Island to Albany, protesters stopped at City Hall in New York City last Saturday chanting si se puede. According to Democracy Now!the protesters are walking in support of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (more about this from the ACLU), asking that farm workers have the right to collective bargaining, an optional day off every week, and overtime pay– rights people in virtually every other industry in the US take for granted. The walkers are led by Rural and Migrant Minstry, a NY-based nonprofit that supports rural and migrant communities in the state.

“I would like to say, each time you are eating, or each time you have something in your hands that you are going to eat, remember us, who do not have the rights that other workers have. And if you can, support us. We are going to be marching for another week and a few days. If you see us, it would be good if you support us by walking with us, maybe a couple of hours, one hour, for a day if you can. That would be very good.”

Heriberto Gonzalez, former farm worker, and fellow at Rural & Migrant Ministry

Greenhorns! Let us join them where we can! They will be marching until May 31 and you can find their schedule, route, and updates here.