by Laura Steiger, Outreach Team
Every year the Co-op's Member Affairs Committee awards six $400 grants. The final two grants awarded in 2016 went to Community to Community Development for use at the Jardin de Tierra y Libertad and to Familias Unidas por la Justicia. Following is an update from the grant recipients.
Jardin de Tierra y Libertad
(Land and Liberty Garden)
MAC grant funds were used to purchase materials for fencing around the garden. Photo by Ramon Torres.
In January, the Co-op’s Member Affairs Committee presented Community to Community Development (C2C) with a $400 grant. Since then, C2C member farmworkers have been busy putting that grant money to excellent use and wanted to share this quick update with the Co-op membership.
Farmworkers gathered in early spring to prune and care for the perennial crops planted last year, build a fence, and prepare the garden beds to start planting vegetable and additional blueberry bushes.
The garden is five years old and has been tended by farmworker youth and their parents.
The new Farming Cooperative, Tierra y Libertad, is creating a training space to teach others about agro-ecology and traditional farming practices from Oaxaca, Mexico.
The food grown there will be eaten at the tables of the farmworker families working the land. The excess will be shared with other families who, for whatever reason, cannot grow their own or do not have access to organic produce. Depending on the quantity of produce, some of it may be sold to help pay for garden expenses.
Your Co-op membership and support make community projects like this a reality. Thank you for spending your shopping dollars at your local co-op and helping us reinvest in our community. Your support helps us realize our strategic plan goals for community engagement, stewardship, and advocacy.
LEARN MORE about Community to Community Development.
Familias Unidas por la Justicia
Familias Unidas por la Justicia President Ramon Torres. Courtesy photo.
In January, the Member Affairs Committee also awarded a $400 grant to Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), a local farmworker union that is ushering in a new era for farmworker justice in Washington state.
five hundred indigenous farmworkers formed an independent union
On September 1, 2016, local farmworkers voted to unionize and be represented by FUJ, thereby becoming the second independent farmworker union in Washington state. Five hundred indigenous farmworkers formed an independent union, drafted a union contract, won an $850,000 lawsuit, and established a new Washington state labor law that guarantees both hourly and piece-rate farmworkers have the right to paid 10-minute rest breaks.
On the heels of these impressive accomplishments, FUJ President Ramon Torres recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the well-deserved 2017 Labor Rights Defender Award from the International Labor Rights Forum. The other award recipients were Eve Ensler, playwright and founder of V-Day and One Billion Rising, and Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Agroindustria y Similares, a Honduran agricultural workers’ union.
Ramon Torres traveled to Washington, D.C., to receive the well-deserved 2017 Labor Rights Defender Award
At the award ceremony with (from left) Edwin Cisco from Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL), Ramon Torres from Familias Unidas por la Justicia, and Edgar Franks from Community to Community Development. Photo by Tyler Mahal and International Labor Rights Forum.
How You Can Help
As FUJ prepares for the first picking season under a union contract, it is looking to set up an administrative office with a space for members to access needed union services. The group is seeking donations to become firmly rooted and continue to lead the movement forward to economic justice for farmworker families in Whatcom and Skagit counties.