female farmer poses for camera

Meet Jodi, Grower at TamBerry Farms

My name is Jodi; I work in the office at the farm, and right now, I do everything: HR, payroll, receivables and payables. HR is my favourite, as is getting to know the workers, their backgrounds, their stories, why they are here, and what they gave up to come here.

My dad has been involved with greenhouses for around 15 years now. We started with a pig farm, sold that, and got into the greenhouse industry. My dad and my brother started this farm just over a year ago. They have had this dream for a while, and it finally came to fruition last summer. Many of the migrant workers we previously worked with came to work with us here when we started.

We had a unique childhood. Our greenhouse may be new, but we have worked with many of our migrant workers for 10, 12, and even 15 years, and we cherish that. Many of them have spent more time with our family than their own. More than just being co-workers, we are friends and family. We couldn’t do what we do without them.

Easter is big in Jamaica, and we often have the guys over; we go to church on Sunday morning and then return to our place for lunch. We celebrate birthdays and Christmas together. They have a special relationship with my grandparents as well. At the previous greenhouse they worked at, they were close enough to bike to my Oma and Opa’s; I’m sure the guys were there at least two or three days a week playing dominos or having coffee. It’s really neat to see the relationships that have flourished with them being here; they go so much further than just the greenhouse that they work in.

The importance of this program for me comes more on the personal and relationship side rather than just labour. We need to have dependable, year-round labour. Still, I would like Canadians to know that the relationship between employers and migrant workers goes much deeper than the job itself. These guys have become friends. Growing up, I always said I wanted a big brother, and now I have 85 of them!