Labor laws allow children as young as twelve years old to work in agriculture with their parent's consent. However, children of all ages can be found working in the fields.
During this year’s National Farmworker Awareness Week we are highlighting documentary work by Student Action with Farmworkers' Into the Fields interns who work with farmworkers in the southeast each summer. Through oral history interviews and photographs, students and farmworkers share stories and learn about each others' lives. These messages represent the many different struggles farmworkers face, one for each day of awareness.
Photo by Chris Johnson | 2000
"The farmers and the Growers Association say, 'In Mexico, they live worse than they do here.' But that is not true. One time I told a grower, 'I did not live like this in Mexico. In Mexico, my house, although maybe it was not beautiful, was very comfortable.' They didn’t believe me, the growers."
– Leonardo | Fuquay-Varina, 2006
Challenge the Global Seed Grab
Photo by Calyste Corrington & Rachael Mossey | 2009
"Here I’m not able to speak Purepécha. I can hardly even speak much Spanish. I’m grateful for all the North has helped me with. It has its ups and downs. I know that it’s not perfect, but sometimes I feel sorry for the people here. They don’t have love, they don’t know how to have a spiritual life. The beadwork I do is a way for me to live at home away from my home. I sit under the tree stringing each bead onto the threads that my aunt made with her own hands; looking up into the same sky she might also be looking at, and creating a masterpiece that will be passed down from generation to generation."
– Noel | Reidsville, NC 2009
+ Support the local Latinx community by dining in at a local Latinx owned restaurant, shopping at a Latinx owned grocery store, or purchasing from a Latinx owned panaderia.
Photo by Emily Blackshire & Fidel Ruiz | 2015
"I moved to the USA when I was 24 years old. It took me four days and three nights through the desert. One suffers a lot walking. My daughter also crossed walking through the desert. Personally, I wouldn’t do it again."
– Carolina | New Zion, SC 2015
Photo by Emma Cathell & Elena Perez | 2015
"Something that I’d like to change… the pay, the pay, for sure. You’re like, this is hard and they pay you so little. At 45 cents, you’re like, I have to do like 500 buckets of sweet potato to make 100 dollars. And I imagine that to do 500 buckets a day you have to [laughs] almost go without drinking water… I don’t know why farm work, which is harder, pays so much less."
– Yonatan | Garland, NC 2015
Add your name to #RaisetheWage in NC
Photo by Leodor Perales | 2000
"Another thing I did was to pour water over my head, to feel cooler. I didn’t know this was dangerous. I got sick, because I stopped sweating. I started having chills; I felt hopelessness. I reached for some low leaves and when I tried to stand back up, I fell in the tobacco. A compañero [colleague] who was walking with me looked at me and said, 'Are you sick?' He told the boss that I was sick. The boss said, 'Just have him work slowly. If he doesn’t work, I’ll get someone else from Mexico.' So I kept going. My compañero never left me. He walked with me and helped me the whole time."
– Benjamin | Roxboro, NC 2006
Photo by Catherine Crowe & Liliana Altamirano | 2015
"It’s something I think about every day. Is it going to be like this the rest of my life? To be separated… to be far away from my family? Because they grow up and the teenage years come… you see it happening and they become more rebellious as they get older… and you wonder what will become of them."
– Demetrio | Bunnlevel, NC 2015
Photo of SAF intern Adriana Sánchez, by Amelia Alexander | 2007
"I wish I could just go up to the growers and tell them, 'You treat your dogs better than your workers. What are you thinking?' I always think about how I’ll see myself when I’m older, when I’m married, have grandchildren. [When I have] become like my mom; she’s sixty-two. My mom told me about being in the fields [in California] and this guy came and talked to her about the union, the UFW [United Farm Workers]. César Chávez is who explained it to her and took a picture of her, for her union card... I realized that my mom worked with the UFW and helped a lot... and now I am here working with SAF. I’m going to be so proud to say that I was able to do my small part to help farmworkers."
– Luisa Baeza | SAF Into the Fields Intern, 2007
Photo by Kimberly Luna & Cynthia Moreno | 2014
"Seeing my parents work hard every day makes me want to be a better daughter so that they can see me doing what no one in the family had done before – get an education, get a better future, not struggling every day, every year."
– Xochil | Hendersonville, NC 2014
Call your representatives to ask them to preserve DACA, pass humane and comprehensive immigration reform, oppose mass deportations, and strengthen laws protecting farmworkers.