Strawberry Fields

Update:  This map shows our approximate route from Albuquerque to San Jose.  At day’s end we had pedaled 977 miles to Arroyo Grande, the blue dot near the California coast.

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After a fine breakfast with Cindy and Lou, and with cyclist Cindy’s good route advice, we headed north on Highway 1.

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Countryside colors were extra vivid on this gray day.

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On one long uphill, we saw butterfly corpses every few feet.  Curiously, we saw none on the corresponding downhill.

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Old-style hay bales.  Back east, we more often see hay cylinders.

We rounded a bend and spotted workers in a field.

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Who are they?  What are they doing?

Across the road was a golf course. On the field side, blocking the view (whose view? of what?) was an opaque fence.

Jeffrey decided to investigate. He called out to Junior, who was standing on a truck bed on the far side of the fence.

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Junior said this is a Big F Company strawberry farm.  He said the berries are mostly intended for making jam.  He gave Jeffrey a big berry to taste (sweet!), then a heap that Jeffrey put into a plastic bag to take along.

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Look at the size!  They are as luscious as they look.  (Bowl & spoon courtesy of our new friend, Terry.)

The strawberry pickers moved fast. When their boxes were full, they ran to bring them to be weighed, then ran back into the field. Piecework?

Jeffrey introduced himself. Some of the workers asked to be photographed.

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Yesenia is waving at left, Faviola waving at right.  When next you buy a box of California strawberries, remember the workers who bend their backs to harvest them.

We all talked about refugees, asylum, and immigration. Our strawberry friends already understand the issues in a way that most other members of our national community (regardless of citizenship) do not.  When asked about legal help, Jeffrey said he doesn’t take clients in California but left some Ride calling cards and offered to talk by phone at no charge. Then we continued along Route 1.

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We saw several big fields of these raised beds.

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Irrigation sprinklers waste a lot of water.  Some water blew into the road, onto us!

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Before this tractor moved to the far side of the field, its harrow churned up a dust cloud that engulfed us.

We entered the small town of Guadalupe and stopped at this sidewalk shrine, where there were fresh flowers and lit candles.

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The main street was interesting. A small sample:

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By “Spanish”, the writer of this old sign may have meant food of those who speak Spanish.

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Another culture heard from.

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And another culture.

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What has Chicago to do with chop suey (an American dish)?

 

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This mural may be the Vietnam War memorial mentioned on a nearby sign.

At the edge of Arroyo Grande:  Animals!

Today being the start of the weekend and Cinco de Mayo, and the Arroyo Grande / Pismo Beach area being a popular resort, Jeffrey didn’t know whether he could find a motel room. Cousin Cindy’s good friend Terry came to the rescue and invited us to stay.

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Terry has wonderful baseball memorabilia.  Here you see some of his antique catchers’ masks.  He specializes in baseball mitts.

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Terry harvesting a pomelo for Jeffrey.

Jeffrey is looking forward to strawberries and pomelo for breakfast.

And he won’t forget—nor should you—that while it’s easy to find an American to pick a pomelo from his own backyard tree, it’s just about impossible to find an American who will hand-harvest commercial strawberries. Cumbersome visa procedures can’t satisfy the demand for workers; ripe fruit must be harvested without delay.

How can our government claim to serve the people if it deprives farmers of the workers they need, deprives workers of the income they need, deprives businesses of the customers they need, and deprives you and me of strawberries?

4 thoughts on “Strawberry Fields

  1. I gotta hand it to that “Joey” … he sure knows how to write! Terrifically interesting chapter!

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