Fierce Farming Women, Part 2


| 3/27/2015 11:01:00 AM


Tags: latina farmers, female farmers, Natasha Bowens, Maryland,

This is the second half of this month’s series dedicated to women farming in honor of Women’s History Month. This series pulls excerpts from my book, The Color of Food, specifically the chapter dedicated to women entitled “Fierce Farming Women.”

Nelida

Today, we meet Nelida Martinez, owner and operator of Pure Nelida Farms in Skagit Valley, Washington. Her friends at Viva Farms, an incubator farm program where she started her organic farm and where she still grows some of her produce, call her La Estrella, the star. And she is becoming quite the star, recently featured in this Civil Eats post, among others, for her amazing work.

Her story is powerful. Having migrated up from Oaxaca, Mexico to California then Washington, picking berries and working for conventional farms at the age of sixteen, she is now an organic farm owner. She’s left the toxic environment of farm work behind for the health of her family. This excerpt is from Nelida’s chapter entitled “A Farm of Her Own”:

I arrive at the farm and meet Nelida and Sarita under the shelter of the washing area while it drizzles around us. Sarita helps translate our bilingual conversation. For Nelida, Spanish is a second language, with Mixteca as her first. We sit next to boxes of cucumbers and there are a few flies buzzing around us. But what I feel buzzing in the air is the strength and power radiating off of these two women I sit in a circle with.

It is raining and gray in late August, bringing the lushness of the Skagit Valley to life. Skagit Valley is named after the Skagit River, which derives its own name from the Native Skagit tribe who called the valley home for thousands of years. Skagit Valley is the richest agricultural area in the Western Hemisphere, with some of the best soil in the world. This is why a diversity of crops are grown, and the economy is hugely impacted by agricultural production. Known for large-scale berry, apple, tulip and dairy farms, the agricultural industry in the Valley brings in tens of thousands of migrant workers, primarily from Mexico.




dairy goat

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