This year we are trying something new where all of the interns share thoughts about their own experiences with the project. Following are the thoughts of one of our field interns, Dana Bronstein.
Thus far, working with Huertas has truly been quite a roller coaster. I am constantly learning new things, re-affirming that knew knowledge with experience, being humbled in my new knowledge, and ultimately being blown away by the current state of our world and the wonderful human beings committed to making it a better place to live. I came into this project, a new field intern, with a fiery passion for social justice, and a hopes to “change the system” somehow. Yet, now, as I am slowly beginning to understand the intricacies and complexities of the situation that many of these individuals face, coming from Mexico, choosing to work extraordinarily hard for the well being of their families. I am creating a much more holistic, all-encompassing knowledge of these migrants lives that I would have never had the chance to create without the help of Huertas.
What I mean is, that it is easy to hear about the state of Migrant worker in Vermont, or across the country, and become enraged and disgusted by our governments. It is easy to look to Migrant Justice and the horror stories from online blogs that compel one to only look at one side of the story. What is easy to miss amongst that anger is the nuances of the day-to-day actions and interactions of these workers. It is easy to be bogged down by the numbers and forget the faces, the homes, the resilience and the stories of overcoming adversity against the odds. I have been fortunate enough to meet some of these workers – and while at first it can be shocking to enter their homes that are basically on top of the dairies, if not inside of them, feel angered that they have to fear being arrested if they decide to go to the supermarket, and leave feeling helpless. But what I am starting to really understand through the lens of Huertas work, is the importance of what we are trying to do.
Many of these farmers chose to risk a lot by coming into the states for better paying jobs. Yet, they take the risk for the betterment of their lives and the lives of their whole families. The resiliency of these people is truly incredible. I am fortunate enough to see this when talking to them of their future gardens, or hearing about their gardens in the past. One visit in particular comes to mind, with a very kind man named Emilio. When we arrived to his home, he greeted me and the other intern with such a kind and warm smile; I was almost taken aback by it. He had even prepared a delicious meal for us! Rice and beans, Tamales, Chicken, and even apple juice awaited us. As we ate and got to know each other a bit, Emilio told us about his experience with Huertas in the past and showed us some wonderful pictures of his luscious gardens. He knew a lot about growing food and herbs, and even more about cooking. It seemed to me, especially that day that these gardens are not just vegetables and plants – but they are symbols of the resiliency and strength of these wonderful people. Being in control of ones own food source, especially of the foods that hit close to home, can be a way to hold onto cultural tradition and identity that can be in danger of being lost. What Huertas is trying to do is understand what is being lost for these farmers – a connection to the earth, to their roots, and trying, in the form of a garden, seeds, starts and tools, to allow that connection to take form. I am grateful for the chance to come down to earth, to actually meet these people, to see their lives, hear a bit of their story.