In the seventeen years I’ve been living here in Capay Valley, I have never seen signs like these. On my drives to town this summer, I’ve noticed there are several hiring signs posted. lFarm labor shortage is a real thing, and it’s hitting close to home for all of us.
Ten years ago, field workers would occasionally stop by the house to see if we needed any work done in our small orchard at the Gettleshtetl. That hasn’t happened in several years.
For a few years we hired a farm helper to come regularly, every other week to help with odd jobs; pruning, weeding, etc. Juan and his family moved back to Mexico, around the time of the Lake County wildfires. Since then we haven’t been able to find any help. Well, except for that short period where we tried to hire a mowing company. At $400 a month, we quickly decided to just let the grass and weeds grow tall.
You can read more about the relationships between farmers and farm employees in Why We Farm. You’ll find an excerpt on dealing with the seasonal nature of farm work, written by Judith Redmond of Full Belly Farm. And throughout the book, farmers talk about the great respect they have for the skilled people who work with them to bring their plans to fruition.