Narrative and portrait project “The Humans Who Feed Us” launches exhibit at the Sandusky County Fair to showcase the contributions of Ohio farmworkers
Fremont, Ohio (August 23, 2021) - Today, Justice For Migrant Women launches “The Humans Who Feed Us” a narrative and portrait project that aims to humanize the 2.5-3 million farmworkers in the U.S. and help to engender a sense of belonging for farmworkers in the communities where they live and work. The project, supported by The Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy led by Race Forward, also aims to call on public and political leaders to support efforts to improve protections and overall treatment for these essential workers, regardless of their immigration status.
The “Humans Who Feed Us” project will feature the unique stories of eight farmers and farmworkers who work on Ohio farms, to showcase their contributions to our food system and day-to-day lives. The stories of each farmworker will be featured alongside their portraits which will launch alongside a panel discussion at the Sandusky County Fair in Fremont, Ohio on August 23rd, 2021 from 7-9pm ET. The discussion will serve as an opportunity to hear from community leaders and members including a former farmworker, a local farmer, and President of Justice For Migrant Women Mónica Ramirez. The discussion will also be live streamed on the organization’s Facebook page for those unable to attend in person. The entire project will be available as a photo exhibit for members of the community to visit at the Sandusky County Fairgrounds through August 29th, 2021.
“Despite the fact that farmworkers provide life sustaining work through their labor, farmworkers across the country are still denied basic rights and protections,” said Mónica Ramírez, President and Founder of Justice for Migrant Women. “What’s more, farmers and farmworkers touch the lives of consumers every day, but the general public does not have a full understanding of their vital contributions. Our project, “The Humans Who Feed Us,” will bring back the focus to be on the people - the humans - who work to feed us and our families everyday. Our hope is that the public and lawmakers will join us in celebrating the contributions of these essential community members and take action to improve their livelihoods.”
Approximately 30,000 farmworkers reside and work in the state of Ohio - a state that relies heavily on the contributions of the agricultural industry, which contributes approximately 9 billion dollars to the state’s economy. A large percentage of farmworkers are immigrants, including undocumented immigrants, and an increasing number of workers in Ohio, as well as across the country, travel to the U.S. on temporary guest worker visas. Projects like these are vital to shifting the narrative around immigrants in this country, many of whom are essential workers, to underscore the integral role that they have played in the U.S.’ recovery from the pandemic and beyond.
“Farmworkers are risking their health to keep the agriculture industry going during the pandemic so that we all can continue to have fresh fruits and vegetables on our tables. These workers need the tools and information to keep themselves and their families safe. Right now, they don’t have any of these things. Why not protect the workers that come from so far away to pick the crops in our state? They are people like you and I, and they need to be taken care of too,” said Juanita Gutierrez, a former farmworker
"I am proud to be a fifth generation farmer in Northwest Ohio. Since the early 1960's my family has had a productive and meaningful relationship with the migrant workers who travel to our area to harvest the crops that we grow on our farm," said Phil Riehm, owner of Riehm Produce Farm, LLC located outside of Fremont, Ohio. "Most recently, we have employed temporary guest workers who travel to the US on special work visas. Many migrant workers sacrifice to leave their homes and their families to do this work, whether they come on visas or travel from within the US. I am grateful to them and I know that they are thankful to have a good job. We have nothing but mutual respect for one another."
“These pictures and the stories that are highlighted through “The Humans Who Feed Us” project remind us whose hands we rely on for our food. Farmworkers, farmers, and all of us depend upon each other to survive and thrive,” said Jeff Chang of Race Forward’s Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy. “Farmworkers belong here.”
"It is critical that people understand that we are all interconnected and interdependent. COVID-19 has reminded us of this," said renowned chef, author, TV host, and business woman Ingrid Hoffman. "Most importantly, people have a greater understanding of just how much we all rely on farmworkers and other workers who produce the food that we eat. I am proud to partner on The Humans Who Feed Us campaign with Mónica Ramírez and Justice for Migrant Women. Together we honor and humanize the workers who often go unseen."
Following the project’s launch in Ohio, it will be expanded to highlight farmworkers in different parts of the US. The photos and the profiles of the farmworkers and farmers who are participating in the project will be displayed in restaurants, at farmers markets and at other locations around the country. For more information on The Humans Who Feed Us project, please visit www.justice4women.org.
ABOUT JUSTICE FOR MIGRANT WOMEN
Justice for Migrant Women uses education, public awareness and advocacy in order to ensure that all migrant women are guaranteed human and civil rights, including the freedom of mobility, the ability to live and work with dignity, and the right to be free of threats of violence against them and their families, whether they are migrating across borders, around regions or within states. Justice for Migrant Women was created in 2014 by leading activist, Mónica Ramírez, to further scale the project she created in 2003 as the first legal project in the US focused on sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination against farmworker and other migrant women workers.
ABOUT THE BUTTERFLY LAB
Funded by Unbound Philanthropy, Luminate, Oak Foundation, and Open Society Foundations, The Butterfly Lab for Immigrant Strategy is a two-year project established by Race Forward to advance pro-immigrant narratives that recognize and honor the humanity of immigrants, and advance freedom and justice for all.
ABOUT RACE FORWARD
Race Forward catalyzes movement building for racial justice. In partnership with communities, organizations, and sectors, we bring systemic analysis and innovative approaches to complex race issues to build strategies and help people take effective action to advance racial justice in our policies, institutions, and culture.