Sasha has been farming and working at farmers’ markets since she was 15. She currently works in an AmeriCorps position as a Food Access cCoordinator at a non-profit in Colorado. She will be joining Soul Fire Farm for a farm internship this season.
I started working at farmers’ markets when I was 15. I started out volunteering with local double up food bucks at farmers’ markets in Miami, Florida.
I worked at farmers’ markets all the way up until I was 21 or 22. In between all of that, I worked at farm stands. I helped out at some of my friends’ farms in Miami, too, and did logistic office work at another farm that I worked at.
I went off to college in 2018 to a college in Asheville, North Carolina.
During my summers, I worked for both a for-profit farm and also a non-profit donation-based farm where all of our produce went directly to non-profits that were redistributing food for COVID.
I grew up very food insecure in Miami.
It started with me wanting to lose weight in middle school and wanting to do it in a sustainable way.
I realized that healthy food was for the wealthy. I looked for programs in my area that would do work trades, and that is how I found the first farmers’ market that I worked at.
It was in Legion Park – I pretty much helped this non-profit called the Urban Oasis project. A year after that they called me to do translation work for a market in a primarily Latinx area.
I always try to incorporate language justice into market spaces because they are predominantly white spaces.
I also realized that food was really expensive. I realized I should just do it myself.
Growing your own food is printing your own money, right?
Working at markets, I felt a connection with the people in stands next to me and with the customers.
It’s really rare to have a job where you connect with people you work near. I never want it to stop!
Farming for someone else is literally the only way that I’m going to learn to do it myself.
There is always a need for workers, and honestly networking with farmers and apprenticing with farmers is how you get cheap land or are given land. That’s just the way that I’ve learned how to do it.
Going to college, it was a waste of money.
The only reason to go was to network and show that I’m willing and able to do work. I went to a small private liberal arts college.
I went to college for sustainable agriculture – there are only a few that do that program and have actual farms at their college.
I got a scholarship to go to my school, but it was more of a waste because it didn’t have practical courses they had theoretical courses.
I supplemented by having internships and working as a seasonal worker on farms.
I’m an immigrant
I identify as Latinx.
I was born in Argentina and immigrated when I was 5.
It’s unfortunate that there aren’t more Latnix people in regenerative farming.
I want to have a farm for me and also to show that BIPoC people and Latinx people are leading the charge.
I do plan to have my own farm. I’m trying to work on that soon – hopefully by the time I’m 35 I’ll have a farm!
Ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to work outside and tend to the land. I unfortunately don’t have a tie to this land since I am an immigrant. Both of my family’s sides were immigrants from the Middle East and Germany and ended up in South America.
Farmers have this power to change the food system and solid health, and have a part in slightly reversing climate change and sequestering carbon. The way we farm is closely tied to the deterioration of the ozone layer and climate change.
I have faith that the American farming culture is moving toward the Campesino movement.
Most farmers in the world are landless, they work for others.
The landless farmer movement, and the Not Our Farm project, too – it shows that there are a lot of us out there.
They are unionizing and working to acquire land as the landless to do what they will with it and not be told what to grow or how to grow.
I did a project in my last semester of college – racism in agriculture as we know it. Modern industrialized farming parallels the nasty parts of regenerative agriculture.
“Farmer” equates to farm owner. “Farm worker” equates to a person in the field.
“Farmers” are predominantly white. “Farm workers” are predominantly Mexican. They don’t match up with the population.
You can trace it back to the Homestead Act. You can also trace it back to the numbers of millions of Black farmers that have drastically dropped due to discrimination. The USDA wasn’t giving Black farmers their loans so they slowly started losing their land.
So many systems are in place to allow people who have land to keep land and not sell it, and systems in place to make it extremely hard for people of color and undocumented people who have the farming experience to have their own farms due to legal status and discrimination.
There are people who want to farm, there just isn’t land that is accessible to us yet because it’s tied up in so many different things.
I have faith that we may be able to become farm owners, and since we’ve experienced all these things and are self aware, we are not going to be the farm owners that we are used to seeing.
We will be a new set of farm owners.
A dream farm for me…
- I definitely would want it to be a cooperative.
- If you’re there for two years, you could have a buy in and be a co-owner. I
- I would want it to have a sliding scale CSA, and be food sovereignty oriented.
- If it is on Native land – they are able to get Indigenous people to come tend to the land and utilize Indigenous practices while also respecting it.
- Having a liveable wage and having vacation time and health care and not having to worry about retirement.
Farms just need to be a little smarter.
Our generation is realizing that. The older generation of farmers, they don’t have healthy boundaries because it’s their livelihood, so it’s really blurred.
Younger generations want boundaries with work. We want to take care of our mental and physical health because farming is very strenuous…all these other issues that people don’t associate with farmers.
I feel sort of indebted to the farmers especially if you are living on their premises, so there is a lack of boundaries…like being available even when you are off the clock.
I have experienced sexual harassment just being female, as well. It’s always something that I’m weary of, but the last few farms I’ve worked on have been all female.
I’m white passing so I don’t have the racial discrimination, but it is weird when I tell my farm bosses that I’m Hispanic and they try to relate to me in that way.
For example, the farmer’s wife where I worked told her sister that they had an Argentine person working for them and that’s the closest they will ever get to Argentina. In the institution where I work at right now, I’m the only Spanish speaking person and I’m pretty much pointing out all the racial disparities they aren’t addressing….they aren’t addressing 24% of the population that is Latinx.
The first farm I worked at was at a WWOOFing farm when I was 19.
The WWOOFing people don’t care – –
If anybody gets anything out of what I say, it’s:
Don’t Go WWOOFing.
They don’t do background checks on the people who host WWOOFers – I’ve had really bad experiences when I was WWOOFing.
WWOOFing devalues our work as getting paid as farm workers. It’s just a way for farmers to get free labor.
People need to stop gate keeping, as in believing because you have more experience or are more seasoned in the occupation that you’re allowed to make judgement calls on who is allowed to participate in it or be called a farmer.
I don’t know if that is an experience that everyone has had, but that was my experience.
I’m a bigger person, I’m not the stereotypical skinny white person farmer.
I always felt like I’m moving too slow.
I don’t look like what people think a farmer would look like.
Just having those insecurities makes it hard.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re better than us. We’re all weeding. We’re all out in the field digging potatoes. It’s an ego thing that is done to make people feel better about themselves.
We all start somewhere and because of people like that, people get discouraged from pursuing farming, husbandry, dairy, anything that involves years of knowledge.
I’m not about that.
We need more people to join,
I worked on a farm where the whole crew was white, and I was the only Latinx person there. Everyone had come from money and privilege and skipped semesters of college to go work on a farm. For some, farming has become something like ‘I’m taking a trip to Europe to find myself.”
But at the non-profit farm where I worked – we all had a shared mission of being on the farm because we are addressing food justice and food sovereignty issues.