Berry Farmers Break Free From Big Agriculture

Photo by Edgar Franks/Community to Community

Photo by Edgar Franks/Community to Community

For the first time, Ramon Torres maintains control over his livelihood. He chooses what to farm and how to farm it, free from pesticides that harm workers, under working conditions he helps set.

The 22 acres of juicy strawberries and blueberries he farms belong to him and three others under Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad (“Land and Liberty Cooperative”), a farm co-op founded in 2013 to meet consumer demand for berries farmed under nonexploitative conditions and worker demand for a fair paycheck and safe working conditions. The co-op prides itself on organic farming and livable wages for its workers.

When Torres worked at Sakuma Brothers berry farms in Skagit County, Washington, several years ago, he and his fellow farmworkers endured low wages, unpaid breaks, and exposure to pesticides.

A co-worker, Federico Lopez, was fired immediately after requesting a raise, and, along the way, the workers learned they weren’t paid for rest breaks . . .

For the full article by Lynsi Burton, follow the link below to yesmagazine.org.