A salute to the field crew

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Oaxacan field crew is the backbone of our farming operation. Husband and wife Tino and Yolanda have been farming with Oxbow for over ten years. Their nephews Valent and Julio joined them five and four years ago, respectively. They are fast and efficient, willing and (more importantly) physically able to work long days with only one day off for much of the season.

The nature of farming (at least in our climate) is that the workload ebbs and flows. It is simply impossible for us to spread our to-do list out evenly over the course of the year. Crops will grow when they will grow, and we are tied to the needs of the season. This may seem like a straightforward fact of life, but it presents a challenge for us as employers, one that we have grappled with for years. Need we abandon our field crew in the low season? Can we risk that they will not come back after a winter?

This year we’ve tried to think out of the box. The growth of our farm production and our conservation work, along with some creative number-crunching, have allowed us to provide job stability to our valuable field crew. We can now guarantee year-round employment with in-built flexibility to accommodate peak season as well as the slower winter months.

We hope that this consistency and reliability will give our workers greater peace of mind and incentive to stay with us in the years to come. Their skillset, work ethic, and experience here is INCREDIBLY valuable for us, and we seek to recognize that value with increased job security and quality of life benefits.

Eco-agriculture is central to Oxbow’s mission, by which we mean ecologically sound and economically viable. Economic viability requires that we can hire and retain our skilled crew by paying them enough to meet their needs for every month of the year. Every time you shop for food, your dollars validate the ethics and practices of one type of agriculture or another. Cheap produce begets cheap production, and there are a limited number of ways production can be made cheap.

We hope that YOU will keep our field crew in your thoughts this season. When you join Oxbow by becoming a CSA member or sending your kids to summer camp, you’re not only supporting our programs, you’re ALSO supporting the livelihoods of our workers and the well-being of their (ever-growing) families…Field crew member Valent is back on the farm less than a week after celebrating the birth of his new daughter, Delila. How’s THAT for commitment?

This article appeared in our newsletter June 1. Sign up.


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