Huerto de la Familia

Editor’s Note: This article was published in the Winter 2012 edition of  CLLAS Notes, the newsletter of the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies.

by Chris Roddy

A participant in The Small Farmers’ Project, supported by Huerto de la Familia (Photo by Rachelle Hacmac).

This is how Elva Hart starts her autobiography, Barefoot Heart, a record of how she and her family overcame the disadvantages of being an immigrant farm worker family: “I am nobody; and my story is the same as a million others.”

It is unsettling that the stories of those who have shifted from being a laborer to a farm or food business owner go largely untold, often leaving an incomplete public perception of immigrant families.

“Harvest of Pride” uses first-hand accounts from participants in Huerto de la Familia’s programs to see how gardens, farming and food-based microenterprises can support and stabilize immigrant families. Combining the anecdotes and stories of Latinos in the Eugene-Springfield community with interviews with food justice advocates and others throughout the United States, these documentary essays contemplate Oregon’s preparedness in facing a challenging but potentially rich future for its growing immigrant population.

Funded in part by the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies (CLLAS), the three short films document and explore how Huerto de la Familia is empowering Latino families through organic gardening workshops, cooperative farm business education, and micro-business development trainings. Each film tackles a different issue facing many Latino immigrant families in Oregon and beyond: poverty, food insecurity; barriers preventing laborers from becoming organic farm operators; and, challenges in creating income stability.

Since February 2011, we have filmed countless hours of footage with Huerto’s participating families and interviewed over a dozen academic and food thought leaders. As we shift to the editing room, we will also be creating a new Huerto de la Familia website to support the films. Lastly, because we believe in the efficacy of communicating across multiple media platforms (video, Internet, print), we are also producing a short photo essay book with a few personal reflections from those involved in the project.

Over a year ago, initial conversations with the executive director, Sarah Cantril, revealed that “Harvest of Pride” is a story about power and the lack of it for Latino immigrants in our community. However, the project reveals cause for optimism and hope that these deeply hurtful inequities pushing Latinos “outside the social walls of the community” are being confronted head on and with lasting impact. We believe presenting strong images of immigrant families’ work ethics, deep commitment to family, generosity, and willingness to make considerable sacrifices will encourage greater community integration and acceptance, and we are grateful for the support of CLLAS in helping us carry this out ■

—Chris Roddy is a master’s student in environmental studies and holds a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management. He serves on the board of directors for Oregon Tilth and has spent over 10 years working on new media communications for national nonprofit organizations.