I often mention the other two members of the Join the Farm! field team in the CSA newsletters because both, Reyna and Robi, are individuals who fill our time together with laughter and excellent stories. My favorites include the secrets that came out early in the year around a bi-lingual lunch table, when we arrived at a subject that is capable of bridging any language barrier– bathroom (or perhaps out of the bathroom) mishaps.
As is fitting with her character, Reyna had a story to share that sent me into guffaws. How lucky are we in this farm-centered community to have a Farm Manager who not only skillfully works the land to produce tasty vegetables, but who also cares deeply about the effect her work has on this place, its animals, its people. She has led an extraordinary life and has many words of wisdom. And she’ll make you laugh. Now, meet Reyna! (Translated from Spanish):
My name is Reyna and I’m from Mexico City! Besides being a farmer, I am also a mother of four amazing girls who are very different from each other. Kattya is 12 years old; she is the model daughter and I can only say good things about her. Carla is 9 years old; she is a dancer who loves music. Salsa is common in my community yet Carla has a very unusual style, which I like to think she got from me! Lupita is 5 years old. She was born with Down Syndrome. Everyone says that kids with this disability are very lovable but my daughter is very naughty! She has a very strong attitude! My youngest daughter, Gali, is 3 years old. She always looks good as she pays attention to what she is wearing and she doesn’t ever lose the opportunity to use my makeup! She is also in love with Justin Bieber, of course. Guadalupe is my husband. But sometimes, it feels like I have another son 🙂 He also works on the farm during the summer and he is very passionate about animals.
I have been working in agriculture since I was 14 years old. Previously, I worked on conventional operations that produced different types of vegetables like broccoli, strawberry and celery. These types of job are repetitive; if you are a cutter, you only cut produce. Or if you are a packer, you only pack the produce.
In 2011, I started working for Join the Farm. At first, it was difficult for me to understand what we did here. I didn’t know anything about sustainable agriculture because in my previous jobs, these things weren’t important. But Erynn (our current Farm Educator) taught me about the ecosystems, nutrients in the soil, compost and other things that I didn’t understand. Since I was a girl, I’ve tried to take care of the earth in the only ways I could so eventually a position on this farm became more alluring. Little by little, I’ve become entangled in this spider web and now I care too much to be able to leave!
In comparison to my previous jobs, being a Farm Manager means doing every thing! Now, I plant seeds, coordinate irrigation, weed and harvest. As a former farm worker, I know that lots of my peers don’t know how important it is to eat organic vegetables. We didn’t receive enough payment to support our families, let alone to buy vegetables that are organic! So I would buy the cheaper vegetables without knowing about all of the chemicals and pesticides that we eat and feed our little ones.Because of this, I am very happy to be able to deliver our vegetables to Ventura County school cafeterias! This way, all children have access to vegetables of good quality no matter what their parents salary is.
One of our biggest challenges on the farm is learning how to run a successful CSA program. Because I come from the position of the one harvesting, I know that harvesting is very hard and physically-demanding work. Operating a small farm is like putting together a moving puzzle; we need to take into account the different seasons when planning. For example, in the winter seasons, everything grows very slowly; in spring time, everything blooms very quickly; in summer the farm is a heavenly place because the soil produces very well but, boy, it gets hot! And in the fall, we welcome the wind!
This is why I want to thank you all with my entire heart for supporting us and being part of our CSA! The work is hard but we can do so much good for our kids and schools. I can’t explain how incredible it feels to have work that shows how working with the earth can get you so far, and even more knowing that what you do causes no damage to the earth.
Many times I’ve thought that since I didn’t go to college, I would never be anyone. Now I can tell you that I have dreams and that one of them is to study agriculture and to learn how to better take care of the soil. I hope that one day I can make this dream come true! For now, I’m only farmer Reyna- I’m not a doctor, but because of my job I know that I do something good for the world! This spins around me and I feel like a superhero! And if you asked me what I like the most about my job? I would answer, I’m passionate about everything that I do and it’s an honor to be part of the Join the Farm team!