The pandemic has shed light on just how essential each link in the food supply chain really is. That, of course, includes valuing the health and safety of those who grow our food. The philosophy of regenerative agriculture recognizes this priority inherently. The ongoing wellness of farmworkers matters just as much as that of the land that grows our food, which is why regenerative farms like Frog Hollow eliminate exposure to synthetic chemicals, they offer long-term employment, and there are opportunities to learn and grow on the farm. These days, keeping an eye out for worker health has also meant responding to the pandemic. We need to care for our farm team not just during work hours, but also beyond.
For us, Hijas del Campo has been at the center of that story. Hijas is a grassroots, mutual-aid group that helps migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families improve their daily life, working conditions, health, and safety. They are friends of our farm and have been incredibly supportive of our mission to keep our staff safe in these strange times. At the start of the pandemic, Hijas helped our team access COVID-19 vaccines as soon as ag workers were cleared to do so. “Our employees were the very first ones to get vaccinated in the local area,” says Chef Becky, “We really appreciate what Hijas del Campoo does. They’re an amazing group.”
Hijas has also worked with us to organize vaccine clinics here on the farm. “This is a familiar place, it’s accessible,” says Becky. “And we want to get people vaccinated who want to be, in the least stressful way possible.” Marivel Mendoza Matthew, co-founder and president of Hijas Del Campo, is always present for these events, which often also feature a food truck, gifts for those getting vaccinated, and the laughter of children playing on the play structure next to our packing shed. It’s joyous for a somewhat serious occasion. Given vaccine hesitancy, translation issues, and just difficulty accessing vaccines in general among our farming community here in Brentwood, the idea with these events is to create an environment where people can feel informed, heard, and supported. “Especially because the Latino population is some of the hardest hit, we really want to make sure we’re getting awareness out there,” says Marivel.
L: Hijas del Campo informational table at the vaccine clinics at Frog Hollow Farm. R: Vaccine clinic sign-up table
So far, we’ve hosted four clinics on the farm, most recently including booster shots. These events are open to our employees, their families, and anyone else in the surrounding community who is looking to be vaccinated. To administer the vaccines, Hijas has partnered with Contra Costa Health Services Medical Reserve Corps, La Clinica, Kaiser, and the CA Department of Public Health—all partners who value the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
In 2021 alone, Hijas put together 11 of these clinics and helped 700 people in our California farming communities become vaccinated. So far in 2022, they’ve hosted another 3 clinics and helped vaccinate another 128 people. And these numbers don’t even include the dozens of folks they helped sign up for alternate vaccination sites and clinics.
This month, the Contra Costa Medical Reserve Corps and COVID-19 Adult Ambassadors Program recognized Hijas del Campo for their service with an award! The plaque reads: “Thank you for your support during this unprecedented time. You have demonstrated the strength of our community. We value your passion, great work, and dedication to creating a safer and healthier community.” We, too, thank them for their incredible work and look forward to a long partnership ahead.
“In our opinion," says Marivel, "Frog Hollow sets a standard for the support that all farms should give to the hard working Campesinx community. They open their doors for us, Hijas del Campo, to be able to partner and bring potentially life saving support and it has helped reach so many lives in just the last year. We are eternally grateful for the partnership because we have and continue to learn so much from them. It’s truly a cycle of love that starts from how you care for the people who work the land.”