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.
I live close to Toluca, about 45 minutes from Mexico City. My family started to grow and I needed more help and more support for them. That’s why I came here – it provides a little more money for everything and everyone is happier now. It is hard to leave my four children to come here but I like it here. We make good food. I really like making a nice field of vegetables.
My name is Baldeo and I’ve been coming to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago for 21 years. I’ve been on this vegetable farm for about 12 years. I arrive the first week of April and leave the first week of December. I have done all types of agricultural work back home and I wanted the opportunity to travel and a way of upgrading myself.
I’m George and I’ve been coming from Jamaica for 22 years. I’ve always been working on this same farm. Here, I drive the trucks, prune trees and pick apples. Back home, I grow vegetables like cabbage and tomatoes and raise some goats. We still have that small farm. My wife Olga runs it when I’m here.
I come from Chiapas, Mexico. It’s near the Guatemalan border. I’ve been coming to this same farm in Ontario for seven years through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker program. I was having problems finding a job and wasn’t making much money at home so my wife and I talked about me coming here. We have three daughters. Our twins are 22 and our youngest is 10.
I come from Mexico – about two hours from Mexico City - and have been working in Canada for 24 years. I’ve been on this watermelon farm for 20 years. I help with the irrigation. Before harvest, we check the watermelons, check to see that they’re ripe and not hollow inside. I like the work here. I come here for the money, for my family. It’s good.
For 20 years, I’ve been coming to this squash and watermelon farm from Veracruz, Mexico. Working here means more comforts for my family. It helps with school for my children and food and our house and everything like that. In Mexico, there is not much work. We have a small farm in Mexico that I work on with my father and brother.
I’ve been coming to Canada for 34 years as a Seasonal Agricultural Worker – 30 years on this farm. We grow potatoes, broccoli, cilantro, onions and other things. I like everything. It’s all good. I come here to raise money to support my family. It’s difficult to find jobs in Mexico. I have five children. […]
I come from Mexico where I live about 12 hours north of Mexico City. I’ve been coming to this farm, only this farm, for 21 years. I have two children – my son is 15 and my daughter 9. I call them every day. In the first years, it was really difficult to be away from them, but now it’s normal.
In Jamaica, I’m known as an All Rounder. I’m in construction. I can build houses and do furniture too. I can even make cupboards for you for your kitchen. I grew up in a rural area. My mom was a tobacco farmer. We also grew yams and potatoes and things like that. I started coming to Canada in 2001.
This is my fourth year working on this peach farm and my seventh year coming to Canada from Jamaica. I met my husband Dwayne working on here. He’s also a Seasonal Agricultural Worker from Jamaica. Back home, he did a bit of farming and a bit of construction work like plumbing, tiling and carpentry.
I grew up in Trinidad, where my parents worked in agriculture. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but my dad was a sugar cane farmer, and my family had a small garden. When I was younger, I worked with both my parents in the sugar cane, but sugar cane didn’t last long. The industry closed down by the time I was 23, and after that, we had to look for other avenues to make a living.
I’ve been coming to Canada to work for 30 years. It’s nice to work here. When I come here to work, the money can go home and buy things. It helps feed my family, build a house, and then when I go back home, it’s like a holiday. I come here to work for seven months, then I’m back home five months, then back here again.