Monday, March 20, 2023

Rain and flooding destroy small farmers’ crops and property in north-central California

The heavy rains that hit central California between December and January have left grief and loss in the farming community. Many Mexican immigrants—small-scale farmers in Santa Clara and San Benito counties—lost all their crops and farm equipment such as tractors, forklifts, cars, and housing.

“We are starting again,” said María Inés Catalan. “It is very difficult to be a small farmer. We suffer the most from these climate changes because we do not have money and we rent land in areas prone to fires, droughts and floods because they are the cheapest”.

Catalan, 60, and Maria Teresa Morales, 45, Mexican immigrants and mothers, attended the annual EcoFarm conference that takes place at Asilomar State Park in Pacific Grove and brings together 1,500 California organic farmers from around the world. United States and countries like Mexico Portugal, Canada, Germany, England and many more.

Both farmers attended EcoFarm’s Spanish-language workshops for anonymous donors, who covered their registration for that conference. He took the opportunity in that forum filled with farmers, non-profit agencies and agriculture representatives at the state and federal level to ask for help to start from scratch and the aid began to flow. The two already have a website for receiving donations. (links are below).

“Only God knows why, from one day to the next, everything is over,” said Morales, a native of Michoacán, who said she had requested emergency help by phone from state and federal agencies, but Didn’t get success. “They ask me for a good insurance number, that’s the first thing they started saying.”

California is the leading food producer in the United States. The state’s agricultural bounty includes more than 400 different products, and according to UC Merced Research on Farmworker Health, about 75 percent don’t have a work permit.

Leading women farmers in a male-dominated field spoke of the enormous risk of being a farmer in the era of climate change. He said that the seemingly endless drought terrified him and that for years he would turn his eyes to heaven to beg for rain. But this winter he suddenly saw the sky turn torrential and an uncontrollable stream of water destroyed everything. The disaster took on a dimension never seen before in California, and to their fields, surrounded by healthy, organic soil, came an uncontrolled flow of water, filled with soil sediment and sludge that destroyed their crops. Crops destroyed.

About 20 farming families are in the same situation, according to the farmers, almost all of them Mexican organic farmers, who are currently working together through a cooperative on the idea of ​​starting from scratch.

Maria Teresa Morales shortly before storms destroyed her farm.

(courtesy UCANR)

‘We don’t know what will happen’

Maria Ines Catalan, 60, a single mother of four, has been growing broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Swiss chard and more on leased land for twenty-eight years on a 41-acre organic farm in Hollister, San Benito County. The founder of a Catalan family farm says he had to evacuate his community on January 4 after floods that damaged 75 percent of his crops and 100 percent of his work equipment, including 2 tractors, a forklift, boxes, tools and 100 percent . vehicle and its old motor home.

The farmer, originally from Guerrero, Mexico, is recognized as one of the first Mexican immigrant women to break into the male-dominated business and is known in her community for donating hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables to agricultural banks. Is.

“As farmers, one day we can help by donating food and the next day we have nothing anymore, but I am not alone, there are many people like me who suffer,” said Catalan.

On 4 January, she received an evacuation order, she and her family first arrived at a Red Cross shelter and currently live in a borrowed house which should return on 28 February. By then she would have solved the puzzle of how to start again.

Those who wish to donate please click on Maria Catalan

Maria Catalan At The Ecofarm Conference.

Maria Catalan at the EcoFarm conference.

(courtesy UCANR)

“My husband says let’s go to Mexico now”

Maria Teresa Morales, 45, has been a smallholder farmer growing organic food for 15 years in the Gilroy area of ​​Santa Clara County. She is the founder of a 15-acre family farm called JM Farmers Organic, which has been running since 2016. Each month she sells about 300 boxes of 16 different types of vegetables, including broccoli, kale, carrots, cilantro, beets, corn, lettuce. , and some chili peppers. which was distributed exclusively in Oakland.

The Michoacan native, a mother of 6, said she received a call with an evacuation order on Jan. 9 after a stream near her farm overflowed as a result of a torrential storm that destroyed all of her property within hours Gave.

“Everything is full of mud and I don’t see how I’m going to start,” Morales said. “My husband says let’s start for Mexico.”

But Morales doesn’t plan to return, saying that for the time being she lets tears wash away the pain and fear of the uncertainty, but she’s sure she’ll be able to rebuild her farm and overcome the crisis. Will be able to

Those who wish to donate please click on: Maria Teresa Morales

De la Vega writes for UCANR.

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