Farmworker Justice: Stories from the Field: Isabel
Stories from the Field is a collaboration between Farmworker Justice and photojournalist David Bacon. Farmworkers, their families, and communities face serious challenges every day. Through this innovative collaboration, we aim to give voice to the 2 million farmworkers and their families who would otherwise not be heard.

The Story of Isabel

Isabel is a single-mother farmworker who has spent over 17 years working in the fields.

I've worked more than seventeen years in the fields. Right now I'm picking peppers. We've been doing this work for a month and a half, and the work will last about two more weeks.

When we get to the field in the morning, they give us buckets to fill up. The foreman is a very nice person and treats us well. On a good day I can pick 14 or 15 buckets. It's piece pay, and I get eight dollars per bucket. Currently we earn about $300 a week, though, because the season is coming to an end, and we can only fill about five or six buckets daily.

That's not enough to pay my bills, because I'm a single mother. I'm thirty-two years old, and I have three children. My oldest daughter is 19 years old, my son is 14 and I have a 2-year-old daughter. My daughter babysits my children while I work.

Isabel

For me it's difficult work. I'm a single mother working in the fields. If the men find it difficult, imagine how it feels for a woman. I also pick squash, watermelon and melon, and that's really heavy work, a lot more difficult. I've also picked spinach and about every kind of lettuce.

Once the season ends, then it's difficult to find work for three or four months. It's especially difficult for me as a single mother when I can't find work. I try to save enough money for those months when I'm not working, but sometimes my mother helps me pay the rent. I live with my mother. She works in the fields too. She just had foot surgery and is already back at work.

I think farm work is very difficult, especially for women, because it's back breaking work

Isabel's hands.