The Difficult Work of Blueberries
This summer CATA has begun working with the Hammonton Green Committee, a volunteer driven organization in Hammonton, NJ, to bring the migrant community together with others in the community interested in gardening, organic food, and community building. Several of our members have beds in the Hammonton Community Garden, while we continue to explore options with community partners for expanding gardening in the community at large!
Our work as an organization in the summer is driven by making connections with the migrant workers that come into the state to harvest our fruits and vegetables. Thousands of workers come into Atlantic County for 3-6 weeks to harvest blueberries; so much of our work in July has been reaching out and visiting blueberry workers.
Did you know that blueberry harvesting is paid a piece rate? Workers are paid around $3.60 – $4.25 for each 10lb box, for the dexterous work of hand harvesting thousands of blueberries. While this style of pay can be great if the harvest is good and workers are young and healthy, it can be challenging and mean very long hours at the beginning or end of the season, if the harvest suffers damage, or workers are older and less dexterous with their hands.
This highlights one of the other areas of CATA’s work. In addition to to visiting workers and doing education on health and safety, CATA also participates in the Fight for $15 campaign – a campaign to raise the minimum wage for all workers $15/hour. The connection of our work for food justice – to grow gardens and increase access to fresh, healthy produce for farmworkers is intricately connected to and dependent on our work and mission to improve workers’ rights. Workers who are paid a fair wage are better able to buy the fresh, healthy food that they need for themselves and their families.
About the Grantee
Our organization - CATA - The Farmworkers' Support Committee was founded by migrant farmworkers in Southern New Jersey in 1979. The mission of CATA is to educate workers about their rights and support them as they develop and exercise leadership skills in order to create a better life for themselves and their communities.
Cohort: South 2
Funder: New Jersey Health Initiatives