These Latino Workers Broke Away From Big Agriculture To Start Their Own Farm
For the first time in his life, Ramon Torres is his own boss.
After he was fired for helping his fellow worker secure better wages and working conditions, Ramon Torres decided to start his own farm.
Torres and three other workers formed Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad, a farm where all four men own and work the land.
Torres used to work at Sakuma Brothers in Washington, where, according to Yes Magazine, "he and his fellow farm workers endured low wages, unpaid breaks, and exposure to pesticides." Farm workers are forced to suffer abusive situations that cause injury and illness because they can be fired if they complain.
But when a co-worker was fired after asking for a raise, Torres and others had had enough. They started organizing a strike and a lawsuit with Familias Unidas Por La Justicia.
Although they succeeded in getting improved working conditions, wages, and benefits, Torres was fired. So he decided to strike out on his own.
Torres, Pedro Torres, Modesto Hernandez Leal, and Tomas Ramon formed Cooperativa Tierra y Libertad, an homage to Emiliano Zapata's famous rallying cry, "Tierra y Libertad." Together, they own 22 acres of land where they live and farm berries.
Torres told Yes:
“When we came together, we decided what we wanted: working with organics, no pesticides, good wages."
But the most important thing? Being his own boss, and leaving behind a legacy for his children.