Jessie Mazar, University of Vermont

Jessie is a graduate student working towards receiving an M.S. in food systems. She has been working on an applied research project in Vermont since 2011 that investigates food access strategies among Latino/a migrant farm workers. She has co-facilitated a community-based food access project, called Huertas, that helps to plant kitchen gardens with fresh, culturally familiar vegetables and herbs on farms where farm workers are living and working. She has received support through an Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NE-SARE) grant, and recently was awarded the Thomas Marchione Food as a Human Right Prize from the Society of Anthropology of Food and Nutrition.




Seeds Sent from Home: Migrant Farm Worker Gardens and Food Security in Vermont

Vermont prides itself on being a national role model in developing innovative models for community-supportive, ecologically responsible agricultural practices. However, the dairy industry—Vermont’s largest agricultural sector—has increasingly relied on Latino/a migrant farm laborers. Many of these workers are unable to access basic rights, including nutritious, fresh, and culturally relevant food. This paper examines systemic barriers, complex relationships, and resilient responses in the food system by investigating food access strategies and food security among Vermont’s Latino/a farm workers. Huertas—an ongoing gardening and community food access project—enables farm workers living and working on Vermont dairy farms to install and cultivate gardens, with the goal of increasing access to fresher, culturally familiar food. This paper utilizes the Huertas project, the USDA household food security survey module, and in-depth interviews with farm workers and service-providers to explore the complicated negotiations and barriers, farm workers encounter when trying to access, cook, and gather around food.