How a boom in migrant farm workers is transforming Leamington


days are getting longer now warmer to
the plants will soon be heavy with this year’s crop many hands are
always needed at harvest. Leamington grew up around the food business whether it’s just growing
the food and and sending it off or selling at a market to where it’s
developed into processing of foods former HJ Heinz company being here four
a hundred and four years. That is what this what this municipality has become with the growth of the greenhouse industry so has come the growth of the agricultural
workers that have come from various countries around the world so you take
your regular population of about 30,000 permanent residents and add in five to
seven thousand temporary residents and you have your language barriers, your
culture barriers, even space barriers, that create challenges for all of us to
deal with it’s not just in this contemporary
period of Trump politics but there’s this idea always of the perpetual foreign
other or this racialized other person who doesn’t fit in our society so I
think whether it’s at a big town or community like this this always plays
out and the fact that migrant workers are so segregated from the rest of the
community there isn’t real interactions those interactions are based on
stereotypes and perceptions and the threat that white people will leave the
downtown area when migrant workers are here or in Simcoe or Tilsonburg or
any of the other towns that I go to that’s where the current problem is
people see the number of them congregating our streets they and
they’re nervous some people are nervous in other communities they’d be
saying gosh I wish we had that problem with people on the streets right? All these places generate a profit off the backs of migrant workers again migrant workers take whatever they buy here and they send it home and they’re contributing to make places which are dead spaces lively again. so the crisis that was downtown partly gets blamed on the migrant workers and partly people
are starting to recognize oh they’re the salvation not the problem To be honest with you, some of us Jamaican’s … Caribbean overall some of the time we set back for each
other to be honest with you. True right there’s some of that but you have to remember okay
when they look at any of us who look at you you have this idea all right
about what they think about black people are and the idea is what the problem is
I mean I’m here for a purpose I hear so many complaints the migrant
workers just like walking around like a bunch of bunch of workers a group of
workers walking around the town and I don’t know if it’s irritating to them
the local people especially those people who don’t understand their hardship
how we are living our life here without our families you go home for two weeks
and then come back for eight months and you start missing your family and you
start missing your your food at your home and your culture and your friends
so when you see like the local people with a complete family especially when
you go to the park they have their own family with them and the more I feel
homesick my family has food to eat because
somebody else left their family to grow it for me pick it pocket so how can I
support their family and if it’s just being friendly you know that’s not that
hard I don’t think the greenhouse industry would exist if it wasn’t for
that we don’t have enough people here in
Ontario that are willing to do that kind of labour or those kind of hours for
that kind of date I think from a country stand for profit
standpoint for municipal standpoint that if we had more of them becoming
permanent residents and still did that job
we’d have taxpayers here and would give them an opportunity to become part of
the community you’ve keep up routing people and then
wondering why that doesn’t grow in a healthy way
nothing grows in a healthy way if you uproot it over and over and over again
and so it goes and grows from the greenhouse capital Leamington in the
thunder of Ontario around the Golden Horseshoe to Toronto
more than 16 million square feet of food under Glen one of the most challenging
and productive enterprises in Ontario’s modern agriculture

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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