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Who Harvests Our Food? — Sponsored on Bushwick Daily

Who Harvests Our Food?

The Farmers Behind RiseBoro’s Markets.

August is a big month for harvesting in the Mid-Atlantic. Depending on the weather, produce from basil and blackberries to tomatoes and zucchini blossoms stands to be picked right about… now.

We all know how important fresh food is to our personal and collective health and enjoyment, but how often do we think about the work that goes into producing our produce? It can be difficult to get a clear picture of where, how, and by whom our food is grown—especially in urban areas like Bushwick.

Here’s what we do know. A 2016 National Agricultural Workers Survey found that 75% of farm workers are foreign-born. Approximately two-thirds of farmworkers were born in Mexico, and nearly 25% have been in the country for fewer than 10 years.

It should come as no surprise that the farmers who grow the food we consume in Bushwick reflect these national demographics. RiseBoro Community Partnership’s network of Bushwick-based farmers markets highlight this diverse group of growers and producers by putting farmers at the forefront of the work that they do.

“Immigrant labor is essential to our agricultural food chain” says Ali Toxil, Manager of the RiseBoro Farmers Markets. “Our markets are designed to help all members of our community thrive, and that means uplifting voices that reflect Bushwick’s multicultural character.”

This month—as Bushwick, with the rest of the northeast, enjoys the fruits of the seasonal harvest—Ali spoke with two of our community’s established farmers in their native Spanish about their work, their experiences in the neighborhood, and their lives here and in their home country. Read on to get to know the farmers behind your produce.

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Pedro leads La Baraja Farm in Goshen, New York. A family enterprise, La Baraja grows a rotating assortment of dozens of fruits and vegetables. One of their big sellers is Mexican cilantro.

Pedro spoke with Ali about...

...the RiseBoro Farmers Markets:

“The community receives us well and they really enjoy my products. This market is one of the better markets I participate in: it’s calm, and people don’t really haggle with prices. We do our best to carefully grow, harvest, and transport our goods knowing that a community that cares for my products will eat them.”

...farming with family:

“The best part is that we work as a team. We all know what to do, and there's good trust between us. There are no hard things about working with family.”

...his home country, Mexico, in contrast with the U.S.:

“I love everything about Mexico, but the U.S. has other advantages, like better paying jobs. In my home country, farmers aren’t paid well.”

To see a day in the life on La Baraja Farm—including Pedro’s daughter Cynthia driving a tractor like a boss—watch this short video produced by Just Food.

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Ruperto and Rosbelia Pavia-Neri lead Pavia Family Farm in Hazlet, New Jersey. Also a family operation, they grow a variety of veggies with an emphasis on peppers. They also sell a lot of tomatillos.

Ruperto spoke with Ali about…

...the RiseBoro Farmers Markets:

“I like to be around our clients. It’s our biggest market so it’s exciting to be there. I can directly communicate with the staff, and they can support me in my language. Out of all the markets I participate in, this is the best one for me.”

...farming with family:

“It’s really nice because all of your family is working with you. There is no conflict with anyone because everyone is pushing toward the same goal and wants the best outcome. It's not that hard.”

...his home country, Mexico, in contrast with the U.S.:

“In Mexico, I love everything that is related to agriculture [laughs]! The harvest season is really special there. You would think the food is different, but you can find a lot of the same food here. Before it was tough because you could only find bread, and eat like a squirrel. Now it's sort of the same. In the U.S., right now, I feel happy. I have my job; everything I could want.”

...what Americans who support immigrants can do to show their gratitude:

“Supporting us, our farm, is a big step. It might be small for you but it’s massive for us.”

See more from Pavia Family Farm in this Bushwick Daily post from last summer.

***

Find the RiseBoro Farmers Markets in the neighborhood this year:

RB Bushwick Farmers Market
Saturday 9am – 3pm
May 19th to December 15th
Maria Hernandez Park

RB Rheingold Archway Market
Sunday 10am – 4pm
May 20th to December 16th
533 Bushwick Ave between Noll and Arion


Socioeconomic inclusion is a key mission of the markets, so cash, credit, SNAP, and WIC are all accepted.

For more information about RiseBoro Farmers Markets, email BushwickCooks@riseboro.org, or call (718) 416-4561.

For more information about RiseBoro’s work in Bushwick, see their website.

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