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It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for Huertas! Seeds and starts have been distributed and all the gardens have finally been planted. The whole endeavor began over five months ago, when field interns started visiting farms and interviewing Huertas participants in order to determine which seeds and starts each farm or family would be requesting this year. The totals from these interviews were put into a master spreadsheet, which at the end of the interview process was sent to the wonderful greenhouses that nurture starts for Huertas. This year there was an fantastic new collaboration on campus to help us grow many of the herbs and specialty starts. Mark Starrett, an Associate Professor and horticulture specialist in Plant and Soil Science, guided this collaboration. Chamomile, rue, epazote, papalo, chiltipin and guajillo peppers among many other starts were grown at the UVM greenhouse with the help of the UVM horticulture club, which covered the costs of pots, potting mix and space rental in the greenhouse. The starts were transplanted by various groups of volunteers, including the Green Mountain of Alpha Zeta (an agricultural/environmental honor society) and students from Rachel Montesano’s Spanish course, who also helped sow seeds. Once the starts were ready to be planted, they were handed off to Huertas, and our interns and volunteers sorted the starts into flats for each household (along with bags of their requested seeds) and distributed them to each of the 29 participating farms.

When I became involved with Huertas as an intern, I had absolutely zero gardening knowledge, so participating in this whole endeavor has been a huge learning experience for me. I was lucky enough to see or be involved in every step of the process: from collecting information during the interviews to distributing the seeds and starts, I saw firsthand how deeply this program relies on personal, human connections. Watching the field interns undertake these interviews in a language they’re not fluent in and watching the farm workers in turn help them along the way with what English they know was a really meaningful experience for me. Everyone brought what they could to the table and figured it out, together, from there. I also saw this kind of cooperation and understanding when I started going out to the farms on my own to help plant. I admitted right off the bat that I knew pretty much nothing, and instead of being disappointed the families and workers just laughed and taught me what they knew. They were more than willing to bridge the gap. Being involved with Huertas brings you into contact with these kinds of passionate, giving people, from the volunteers who transplant starts to people like Mark Starrett who supervise a large portion of all the starts we use for the year.

To everyone involved with Huertas: thank you for an amazing year thus far!

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Nurturing starts in the UVM greenhouse (top), and fully grown starts ready to be planted (bottom)

Cultivar plantas en en vivero de UVM (arriba), y las plantas ya crecidas, listas para ser sembradas (abajo)

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Transporting starts to St. Albans for sorting (top) and a newly planted garden (bottom)

Transportar las plantas a St. Albans para ordenar (arriba) y un jardín nuevamente sembrado (abajo)

*Our thanks to Jeff Clarke for the photos of UVM students working in the greenhouse. Nuestras gracias a Jeff Clarke por los fotos de los estudiantes de UVM trabajando en el vivero.

 

En español:

¡Han pasado unas semanas emocionantes para Huertas! Semillas y plantas han sido distribuidas y todas las huertas ya han sido sembradas. El esfuerzo entero empezó hace más de cinco meses, cuando unos estudiantes haciendo sus prácticas profesionales empezaron a visitar los ranchos y entrevistar a los trabajadores para determinar cuáles semillas y plantas cada hogar quería solicitar este año. Se metieron las cantidades totales de las entrevistas en una hoja de cálculo, la cual fue enviada a los viveros increíbles que cultivan las plantas de semillero para Huertas. Este año una colaboración nueva y fantástica en el campus de la Universidad nos ayudó a crecer muchas de las hierbas y plantas especiales. Mark Starrett, un profesor asociado y especialista de horticultura en el Departamento de las Ciencias de Plantas y Suelos, guió esta colaboración. Manzanilla, ruda, pápalo, chiltepín, y chile guajillo entre otras plantas fueron sembrados en el vivero de la Universidad de Vermont con la ayuda del club de horticultura de UVM, que cubrió el costo de las macetas, tierra para macetas, y el alquilar del espacio en el vivero. Varios grupos de voluntarios, incluyendo Green Mountain of Alpha Zeta (una sociedad de honor en agricultura y medio ambiente) y estudiantes de la clase de español de Rachel Montesano ayudaron a sembrar y trasplantar semillas. Cuando las plantas estaban listas para ser sembradas en el suelo, Mark las entregó a Huertas, y nuestros estudiantes haciendo sus prácticas profesionales y voluntarios organizaron las plantas en grupos para cada casa (con los paquetes de semillas que habían pedido) y las distribuyeron a cada uno de los 29 ranchos participantes.

Cuando me involucré con Huertas como una estudiantes haciendo mi práctica profesional no tenía ningún tipo de conocimiento sobre la jardinería, entonces participar con este esfuerzo ha sido una experiencia increíble de aprendizaje para mí. Tenía mucha suerte ver o estar involucrada en cada paso del proceso: desde juntar la información en las entrevistas hasta entregar las semillas y plantas, vi de primera mano que tan profundamente este programa depende de las conexiones personales y humanas. Observar las estudiantes hacer estas entrevistas en un idioma que no es su primer idioma y ver los trabajadores de campo también ayudarlas con el inglés que saben fue una experiencia muy profunda para mí. Todos aportaron lo que pudieron y resolvieron los desafíos juntos. También vi este tipo de cooperación y entendimiento cuando empecé a ir sola a los ranchos para ayudar a sembrar. Confesé de inmediato que no sabía nada sobre la jardinería, y, en vez de estar desilusionados, las familias y los trabajadores solamente se reían y me enseñaron lo que pudieron. Estaban más que dispuestos a acortar la distancia. Estar involucrada te pone en contacto con personas apasionadas y generosas, desde los voluntarios que trasplantaron las plantas hasta personas como Mark Starrett quienes supervisan una porción grande de las plantas que usamos para el año.

A todos que están involucrados con Huertas: ¡muchísimas gracias por un año increíble!

Adam Miller

Environmental Science Major

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Adam has been an essential contact for us this year. He has connected us with the UVM Greenhouses and is our primary contact for the Spanish service-learning course. He first heard about Huertas through this Spanish service-learning course, which he now works alongside Professor Rachael Montesano in increasing their involvement with the project. Through the service-learning course Adam was able to meet some of the farmers and help prepare the gardens. This made him interested in seeing if a relationship could be established between Huertas and the University-Farm.. This is Huertas’ first time working with UVM’s Greenhouse. Within the Greenhouses, Adam is coordinating the seed starting with guidance from Mark Starrett, Professor of Horticulture. In the Greenhouse they have sowed the seeds for various peppers such as Chile de Arbol or Chile de Agua along with different herbs. Many of the seeds being grown are those native to latino/a culture such as Epazote, Papalo, and Pepicha. This Saturday the seeds are ready to be transplanted into pots!

Adam ha sido un importante contacto para nostros este año. Él nos ha conectado con los invernaderos de el Universidad y es nuestro contacto principal para el curso de español. La primera vez que Adam oyo de Huertas fue en su curso de español, y ahora trabaja alado de profesora Rachael Montesano para aumentar el participación de los estudiantes en el curso. A traves de el curso Adam conocio unos de los participantes y ayudo preparer los jardines. Esto le hizo interesado a ver si l pudiera establecer una relación para Huertas con el Universida. Este es el primero año que Huertas a trabajado con los invernaderos. En los invernaderos Adam y Mark Starrett, el Profesor de Horticultura, estan sembrado los semillas para different pimientos como Chile de arbol, Chile de Agua junto con diferente hierbas. Muchas de las semillas que se cultivan en los invernaderos son los vegetales y herbas mas famliar el cultura latino/a. Este sabado las semillas estan listas para ser transplantadas en macetas!

Our First Newsletter!

Huertas is trying something new this year! For the rest of the season every month Huertas will send out a newsletter with updates, on how the gardens are going, different events we are holding, and quick bits on its supporters! If you would like to receive one sign up for our listserv by emailing us at huertas@uvm.edu

Este ano Huertas esta provador algo nuevo. Para el resto de el temporada cada mes Huertas va enviar un boletin con actualizaciones, sobre como van los jardines, diferentes eventos, y los profiles de quien nos apoya. Si desea recibir el boletín manda nos un mensaje por correo electrónico a huertas@uvm.edu

Huertas April Newsletter


 

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This is Mary Petronio! She is a double major in Global Studies & Spanish. She was drawn to the Huertas program because of her experience studying abroad in Argentina last semester. There she studied the challenges facing Latin American immigrants. To her ” Huertas is really important because it builds a community for farmworkers who would be painfully isolated without it”. She is our other Communication Intern with Huertas, she helps share the story of Huertas and advocate for the farmworkers we work with. She is looking forward to learning more about what goes into growing a garden, and can’t wait for spring and summer to see all the beautiful veggies and flowers the gardens produce!

Conoce a Mary Pertronio! Ella esta estudiando estudios globales y español.   Ella estava atraída a el programa de Huertas por su experienca estudiando en el extranejro en Argentina el semestar pasado. Aye ella estudio los problemas que los immigrants enfrenta.  Para ella ” Huertas es muy importante porque es un programa que crea una comunidad para los trabajadores agrícolas y sin Huertas estos inmigrantes estuvieran solitarios. Ella es otra de nuestras asistente de comunicaciones, ella ayuda a compartir la estoria de Huertas y nos ayuda abogar por los trabajadores agrícolas. Ella esta muy emocionada para la primavera y el verano. También esta emocionada por ver los vegetales y la flores que los jardines producen.

Meet Rayne!

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Rayne is one of our other amazing field interns. As an anthropology major and Spanish minor, Rayne has read a lot about the greater systemic issues of immigration and food security.  When she read about the Huertas program, she felt like it was the perfect fit for her.  It combined many of  her interests and elements from her background growing up and studies here at UVM.  Now, here was an opportunity to bring these understandings into a local application with the many migrant latino/a farmworkers that come to Vermont.  She really relates to the program because it’s about creating gardens, something she was heavily involved in with her family back in Maine. She looks forward to getting to know all the people involved with Huertas and when it gets warmer, to start planting!

Rayne es uno de nuestros otros asistentes de campo. Como una estudiante de antropología y español, Rayne has leído mucho acerca de los mayores problemas sistemáticos de la inmigración y la seguridad alimentaria. Cuando ella leyó sobre Huertas, se sentía como si fuera el programa perfecto para ella. El programa combina mucho de los intereses de ella y elementos de su infancia y estudios aquí en el universidad. Ahora, qui a una oportunidad que unta estos entendimientos con un aplicación local con los migrantes latinos/a los trabajadores agrícolas que vienen a Vermont.  Ella realmente siente que puede relacionarse con el program porque se trate de crear jardines, algo que estuvo muy involucrado con su familia en Maine. !Ella esta muy allegre para conocer a todos los que estan involucrados con Huertas y cuando es tiempo, para iniciar la siembra!

Meet Elena Palermo!

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Elena is one of our field interns! She is Nutrition and Food Science major with a food systems minor. Elena spent 4 and a half months of her gap year between high school and college living with a Latino family in Viña del Mar, Chile. Through immersion, she developed a deep understanding and love for the Latino culture. Elena was drawn to Huertas because she believes one of the most important things in life is equality. She hopes through this experience she will not only further her education and remain an active participant in the fight to gain food equity for all, but build a food system that can provide and support everyone, including farmworkers with healthy food, a living wage and respect. As our field intern Elena helps coordinate the gardens, starting with initial  farm visits to the very end with plot preparation. Elena says she is looking forward to working with a completely new population within Vermont that not many college students or even Vermonters in general have the opportunity to interact with as well as getting her hands dirty once planting starts!

Huertas is back for yet another season! Each season brings us back together with a number of individuals, farms, partners, and organizations. Each week we will be introducing one of these groups that are essential to Huertas’ success, staring with our interns!

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Meet Tasha Naula, one of our Communications Intern! Tasha is a junior majoring in Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont. Originally from NYC, she has been inspired by Vermont’s innovation and support within the food systems which was what drew her to the Huertas project. Tasha will be managing our blog site, reaching out to our community partners, and hopefully finding sometime to get her hands dirty helping in the gardens. She is excited to see what Huertas brings this year!

Conce a Tasha Naula, una de nuestras asistentes de comunicacions! Tasha es un estudiante de tercer ano estudiando los estudios de el ambiente.  Viniendo de Nueva York, ella estaba inspirada por la innovación y el apoyo de Vermont dentro los sistemas alimentarios, que fue lo que la atrajo a Huertas. Tasha va a administrar el sitio de blog, comunicase con el comunidad, y encontrare tiempo para ayudar en los jardines. Ella esta muy excitada para ver que Huertas trae este ano.

Cultivating Community

As the service-learning liaison I am in charge of fostering the blossoming (pun-intended) relationship between our participants and a cohort of Spanish 101 students at UVM.   The Spanish 101 Composition & Conversation course, which explores the history of human migration from Mexico to the US, is designated as a service-learning class by the UVM Community-University Partnerships & Service-Learning (CUPS) office. As a service-learning class, the course is intentionally designed to offer a unique experiential learning process that seeks to draw strong connections between the classroom and our local communities.

 

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UVM Mascot “Rally” visits Huertas fundraiser (Shaw, 2015)

This semester I had the pleasure of working with an incredible group of 27 students that ranged from first-years to seniors.   It was the second semester that this specific Spanish 101 course has partnered with Huertas, and as the service-learning liaison I facilitate student visits to the home of Huerta participants. This semester’s group helped with the execution of a very successful on-campus fundraiser in which Mexican-inspired desserts and Huertas t-shirts were sold. The students also took advantage of the opportunity to share information about Huertas with their UVM peers. The class successfully raised over $300, some of which was used to purchase some much-needed garden tools. Despite this spring’s not-so-cooperative weather, several of the Spanish 101 students were additionally able to venture out to the homes of Huertas participants to help dig up new garden plots and clean up those from seasons past.   The reactions of many of the students upon their returns made all of my recent crazed coordinating efforts entirely worth it. When asked how her recent visit went, a student replied, “It was amazing! That was the most perfect experience for our class, and our host was incredible! We all want to return to help them in their garden this summer.”

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Service-learning visit & garden prep (Wolcott-MacCausland, 2015)

Perhaps what has been most gratifying about working with Huertas is seeing the Spanish 101 students develop over the semester into engaged learners and active community members. Many have expressed interest in volunteering with Huertas over the summer, as well as interning during the next academic year. It is immensely inspiring to see fellow students feel passionate and motivated by the work that Huertas does, which will only be beneficial in further cultivating the growing Huertas community.

I am very grateful to have been part of the Huertas team, and I am excited to see how the relationships between UVM students and Huertas continues to flourish! Mil gracias to the lovely Huertas team, participants, professor Rachael Montesano, and the awesome Spanish 101 service-learning course!

¡Comida para la gente!

This weeks blog post comes from our Alianza Latina liaison, Jennifer Gil

Leaving my rich, and diverse Latino community back home and coming to UVM not only left me in shock but feeling so out of place. There’s nothing I miss more than the smell of the El Salvadorian and Colombian bakeries on every corner, the loud salsa playing from cars, and the families soaking up the New York sun while playing dominoes. There was no denying that my love for my own Latin culture and others led me to the ALANA (African/Latino/Asian/Native American) affiliated organization at UVM called, Alianza Latina.

                Alianza Latina’s mission is to not only to celebrate the different Latin cultures at UVM but share them with greater the Burlington/Vermont community as well. We strive to educate the public but also share our culture through music, dancing, and of course FOOD through events we organize every semester. Our Spring semester event called, Comida Para La Gente: “Él Sazón de UVM,” was on March 21st this year and it was such a beautiful night. People from different backgrounds came together to celebrate a night filled with performances, dancing, and home cooked Latin food. Our theme this year was meant to not only celebrate this “sazón” of UVM, us Latino identified students on campus, but also the Latin culture that goes unnoticed in Vermont.

                This semester I made it my goal to not only learn more about Latin@s in Vermont but educate students about this unnoticed working force that drives our dairy/agricultural industry here as well. Huertas has given me the opportunity to be involved but also spark interest into Latin@ students on campus that want to get involve, but don’t/didn’t know how to. My work in Huertas and my position on Alianza Latina has led me to use the two to attract more attention to Huertas and spread the word on such a wonderful and beautiful project.

                Alianza Latina used Comida Para La Gente this year as a platform to educate the public on Huertas and the presence of these migrant workers in Vermont. Of our proceeds earned this year for Comida, 30% of it will be donated to Huertas (which is $500!). I know personally the great things Huertas does for Latin@ migrant workers in Vermont and I respect and love that so much. The Huertas team doesn’t only give these strong men and women a taste of home through the kitchen gardens, but friends and relationships that mean so much more. Alianza Latina’s mission statement is to support diversity and celebration of our beautiful culture, and we absolutely admire the work Huertas does towards that.

                My experience so far on the Huertas’ team and making connections with students has been a learning and rewarding experience. Seeing the excitement they have about getting involved and volunteering is satisfying because it’s for a project that benefits these workers whose work has gone unacknowledged for too long. I personally am so excited to see what the warm weather will bring and am looking forward to getting out there and meeting so much more extraordinary people.

 Alianza Latina thanks Huertas for their hard work, dedication, and inspiring actions in aiding the Latino/a migrant workers in Vermont!

Muchisimas gracias!

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This blog post is from one of our field interns, Eliza Hamburger.

As an out-of-state UVM student from Washington D.C., I have been largely unfamiliar with the dairy industry in Vermont, and the migrant workers who keep it running, for most of my life. When I was accepted to be the field intern for the Huertas project this season, I was excited but very unsure of what to expect. Overall, working with Huertas has been an immense growing and learning experience for me. I have seen and started to understand a little bit more the complexities of the issues of migrant workers rights and food justice and access in rural areas, but I also know that we are only just scratching the surface, and there is so much more to see and to be done.

The first field visit for me was very difficult. We had been briefed on the procedures to go through and the situation many people were living in in our Huertas team orientation, but the day turned out to be a lot for me to take in. I felt very angry and upset seeing the living situations many people were in, and thinking about the physical as well as emotional isolation that people must feel being so far from home and unable to leave their farms surrounded by snowy fields. In turn, this made me feel shy and quiet, and I wasn’t able to make much of a connection with the people we visited.

As time has passed, and I now know a little more what to expect, I feel much more comfortable. My initial discomfort has given way to confidence. I love chatting with the participants after the surveys have been completed and hearing about their lives and their gardens from years past, and I really look forward to maintaining these connections and continuing these conversations throughout the season.

I still feel upset and angered by the way in which our government, and more specifically in this case, the Border Patrol, treats these people who, as workers, are so vital to the VT economy and have overcome so much hardship to be here, and who, as other human beings, deserve a level of quality of life that is not being met. However, I feel energized and inspired by the participant’s enthusiasm despite those hardships, and by the wonderful Huertas team that I have the great fortune to work with.

I am really looking forward to spring, when the snow is melted and the ground is thawed and we can really get to work in the huertas. Soon we will be working in the sun in beautiful gardens full of chiles, hierbas, tomates, and more! I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing project, and I know the best is only to come.

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