Meet the faces behind the Ontario produce on your plate! Each year thousands of migrant farm workers make their way to Ontario to work on fruit and vegetable farms around the province. While for many of them this experience is relatively new, some workers have been returning to Ontario farms for over 20 years! From trumpet players to carpenters, they all have a unique story to share. Click the profiles below to learn more about the women and men who play such an important role on our farms.
Hi, I am Steve Rowe, from the center of Jamaica. I have been working in Canada for nearly two decades now. I do just about everything on the farm. I do a little spraying, cut the grass, prune the peaches, thin the peaches, pick the peaches, and sometimes I work in the factory where they process the cherries, too.
There was only a little work back home as a youngster, so our MPs, the politicians, hand out cards in the community. The cards had information about the Seasonal Worker Program, and there are few opportunities back home, so I tried the opportunity to come to Canada.
My name is Melroy Samuda; I am from St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. This is my eleventh season in Canada, my tenth season at this farm. I like working. That is what we are here for, so I enjoy it. When we are working, we know we are earning for our families. I came here to make a better life, work and then return home and make something of it.
My name is Markaldy Eubanks; I'm from Jamaica, working in Vineland, Ontario, at Cherry Lane. We are a family here; we love the farm owners, and they love us too. When I'm on the farm in Canada, I feel at home; I only miss my family.
My name is Leroy. I’ve been coming here since 1987 and have always worked at this farm. In Jamaica, they gave us a card with information about the programs available to work in Canada. I decided I was going to try it. Here I am today, on the same farm 36 years later.
My Name is Joseph Alexander, and I am one of the seasonal workers from Jamaica. I have been coming to Canada for 31 seasons. I worked in tobacco for 10 seasons, vegetables for one and all the other seasons in fruits. I’ve been on this farm every year since 2002, except for 2020, the Covid year.
I am Fitzroy Brooks, I am from Siloah District, St Elizabeth, Jamaica. I have worked here for 22 years. We do not live in a bunkhouse. We live in a house, just like we would live in in Jamaica. Everything is clean and proper. We have one person in each room and everything we need to keep us comfortable. It is just down the road from the farm, only a short bike ride to work.
My name is Zico, I am from Barbados. I have been coming here for two years now. Barbados is a cricket nation but football in Barbados is growing. It is getting better and it really means a lot, it is getting a lot of youngsters off the block (out of trouble). I love everything about football. My father was a footballer, so it was passed down. I started playing football in class three. First I was a runner, a sprinter.
My name is Barrington Blake. I am from the Parish of St. Elizabeth, in Jamaica. I started this program in2001. I had an accident and I was back home on a break for four years and then came back. People may not know that with the program we have a health card and an insurance card that we can use to get medication if we are ill and go to the doctors so we don’t have to pay any money.
I am Adam Arboine from Jamaica, I have been coming to Canada for 22 years. I was working in landscaping in Jamaica and a member of the Ministry (of Labour) came by and said to us we should come to Canada to make money and he introduced me to the program (Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program). When I first found out I got into the program I was so happy.
My name is Lee Kuhn, I am the Operations Manager of Malivoire Wine Company in Beamsville. Niagara is a unique place to grow grapes because of the weather. It is positioned between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and that creates almost a sub-tropic climate, which is ideal for growing things especially fruit.
My name is Michael Ferguson, I am from Jamaica and I have been coming here for 15 years. I had heard about the program (Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program) through friends and people in my area and I thought it could help make my life better. I was very excited and I was very happy when I got accepted. My first year, I came in April.