Unfortunately, many people imagine farm work as being in the field doing the same repetitive task all day. While there can be days like this (similar to many other jobs!), the reality is that there are tons of unique jobs that require different skillsets and levels of experience around the fruit and vegetable farm. From operating harvesters to fixing irrigation systems, migrant farm workers play huge roles on the farms they work at, and in many cases, they involve these specialized tasks.
The technology on farms is incredible. For example, think of the last time you drove past or visited a winery. Notice how straight the grape vines are planted? This is possible due to Global Positioning Systems (GPS), just one of countless expensive pieces of equipment you’ll find on a farm. To operate any of these machines, you must have in-depth knowledge and training to ensure your safety and that of others. It can take months, even years, to become trained on some of the more advanced technology.
Fermin works at a potato farm in Alliston, Ontario and says when he started working at the farm, he was performing various tasks in the field and on the smaller machines. Now he operates the large harvesting equipment and technology in the packing facilities.
“I work in the processing area inside, chipping potatoes. I am happy anywhere, but I love technology and have learned many new skills in both places. I now can operate the large harvesting equipment in the fields and am grateful for this opportunity from my foreman,” Fermin says.
There’s also a science to planting and growing fruits and vegetables. Knowing when to plant and harvest, when to irrigate, when to spray – there are so many factors that go into producing the best quality fruits and vegetables safely and efficiently. Combine all this with outside factors like weather, and you can see why it’s important for workers to have extensive knowledge of how certain conditions will impact the crops and be able to react accordingly.
Jesús works on a vegetable farm and prepares the grounds for planting and harvesting. This includes spraying, irrigating and other regular maintenance check-ups to ensure the fields and soil are in peak condition.
What makes the work done in Ontario even more incredible is that back home, many of these workers have different jobs. Often, they are related to agriculture, but it’s not uncommon for these men and women to work in other sectors like education or culinary. To hear more of their stories, like Carlos talking about the work he does at an apple orchard, visit www.morethanamigrantworker.ca/videos.