Spring is here and springing forward we are!

House Farm Workers! has already had an exciting start to 2022.

Creative Community Partnerships

We are grateful for all of the connections we have been able to make. One is with the art community, which has broadened who is hearing about farm worker issues and provided a new way to look at them. The Santa Paula Art Museum provided a connection to local artist and teacher John Galan, whose painting Strawberry Shibboleth was on display at the Art About Agriculture exhibit at the Santa Paula Art Museum @santapaulaartmuseum.

John was a guest speaker at our January Ventura City Group meeting, and his painting was the topic of discussion led by Meg Phelps, Curator of Creativity and Community Engagement, at our January Oxnard City Group meeting. The city groups, which are accustomed to discussing affordable housing from an action and policy standpoint, were able to instead relate their same knowledge to the meaning of John’s painting Strawberry Shibboleth.

That same art connection created an opportunity for collaboration again when Santa Paula Art Museum donated art supplies forHFW!’s paint night for local youth group One Step A La Vez. Seventeen-year-old artist William Caceres taught the members of One Step, who were 13 to 18 years old, how to paint their feelings about the current

A special thank you goes to Jessica Diaz, teaching artist at the Jeanette Cole Creativity Center, for being William’s assistant for the night. This event was part of a buildable series of Housing Element presentations provided to the youth. We thank One Step a la Vez’s Executive Director Ana Rosa Rizo-Centino for continuing to welcome us in to teach the youth about affordable housing in their community and how to advocate for change.

An Addition To Our City Committees

Also advocating for affordable housing are HFW!’s task forces and city groups. Our newly created Fillmore & Piru Task Force focuses on the not-yet-drafted Housing Element by the city of Fillmore. We are glad to see the Fillmore & Piru community members and residents participating and welcome additional participation. As with all of our Task Forces and City Groups please contact info@housefarmworkers.org for more information.

Farmworker Immersion with CSUCI

We continue to team up with California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI), Reiter Affiliated Companies, and Cabrillo Economic Development Corp. each year to conduct the Farm Worker Immersion Project, through which local college students experience the life of a farm worker for a day. The students’ experience includes raspberry picking, touring an affordable farm worker housing unit, and sitting down with our executive director for a call to action. This year’s Immersion happened on April 8 and was a huge success. Our Executive Director Gabrielle Vignone led a reflection at the end of the day, providing information on how to advocate and asking students to share their feelings on what they learned during the Immersion. Gabrielle jotted down key words on a whiteboard while the students shared. We wanted to share some of those powerful words with you:

  • Place to live
  • Glad it wasn’t strawberries
  • Healing
  • Advocacy
  • Real
  • Proud
  • Housing
  • Mind-blowing
  • Respect
  • Labor
  • In the fields
  • Hope
  • Change
  • Farmworkers

HFW! taught local students how they can make a difference for our local heroes. The students decided to show their support for farm worker housing by holding “I support farmworker housing” signs that our members and supporters usually display in support of affordable housing at city council meetings. Students, faculty, and attendees alike took a photo that can be shared at future meetings and events to demonstrate their support for farm workers’ housing needs.

Farmworker Housing Study Update

We told you in our last newsletter that we teamed up with the County of Ventura to support a comprehensive Countywide Farm Worker Housing Study that proactively and comprehensively addresses farm worker housing needs in Ventura County. Now you can stay updated on the study by visiting our website at: https://housefarmworkers.org/ventura-county-farmworker-housing-study-and-action-plan/

The study has created an opportunity to convene an Advisory Council, which has increased community knowledge of the need for farm worker housing, as we have invited a diverse selection of community members and organizations. We are currently selecting a consultant to conduct the study, using a grant awarded by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

Speaking of grants, we need to give a quick shout out to:

  • Bank of America for a $5,000 grant.
  • Ventura County Credit Union for a $5,000 grant.
  • Bank of the Sierra for a $3,500 grant.
  • Union Bank for a $5,000 grant.

Thank You To All Our Volunteers

Volunteers are the key to our success and they deserve a shout-out as well. Thank you for participating in numerous committees and coalitions, testifying before city councils, and presenting at special events to raise awareness. We appreciate you! Of course, as always, a special shout out to HFW!’s strategic advisor Jennifer Coile is in order. Jennifer’s many efforts including the success of adding programs to 6 of 10 housing elements in the County released so far. That language includes the following:

Countywide Farm Worker Housing Study: The City will (1) work with the County of Ventura, advocacy groups, and agricultural organizations to plan, seeking funding through grants or other sources, for the implementation of a countywide survey of farm workers, employers, and housing providers to further define housing conditions, needs and barriers to farm worker housing and (2) utilize the survey results to develop targeted programs and strategies to address the identified housing needs of farm workers and to support agricultural businesses with a stable and healthy workforce.

Funding for the Housing Trust Fund Ventura County and permanent source of funding for affordable housing: The City/County shall continue to support the efforts of the Housing Trust Fund Ventura County, a local nonprofit organization that provides short-term acquisition and pre-development funding to developers of affordable housing. In addition, the City/County will coordinate with local agencies and community stakeholders on the creation of a countywide dedicated source of funding for affordable housing.

2022 Ellen Brokaw House Farm Workers! Scholarship

The Ellen Brokaw Scholarship application period was open until May 6 this year. Three scholarships are awarded annually in the amount of $3,000 to college-bound or current college students whose parents are farm workers in Ventura County. Winners will be announced in July.

From Field to Fork Is Back In Person!

HFW! is excited to have our “From Field to Fork” event in person this year, because we miss seeing you. Join us on July 21 for a gourmet meal and entertainment while our scholarship recipients receive recognition. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by clicking the button below. Tickets are selling out fast, get yours today!

11th Annual From Field to Fork Dinner

If you are interested in sponsoring the event, please email us at: info@housefarmworkers.org

Donations are accepted year-round online at: https://housefarmworkers.org/event/

Community News

This summer, People’s Self-Help Housing is launching its new signature fundraiser – The Builder Games! The Builder Games invites teams to build playhouses against the clock while impeded by fun challenges. Prizes will be awarded for fastest completion, best construction, and most imaginative design. Playhouses will be auctioned off to benefit education and supportive programs for children and families.

We end this newsletter with the same energy it began with, excitement and gratitude. We thank all of our donors, volunteers, supporters, and collaborators for all of their help this year, in past years, and in future years.

If you are new to HFW! and are looking for a way to get involved, we have listed a few options below.

Want to join one of our City Group Committees? These committees have room for new members:

Oxnard House Farm Workers Committee
Second Wednesday of the month at 8 a.m. via Zoom

Ventura House Farm Workers Committee
Fourth Tuesday at 4 p.m. via Zoom

Fillmore & Piru Task Force
First Wednesday at 5 p.m. via Zoom

Fillmore & Piru Task Force
First Wednesday at 5 p.m. via Zoom
Email events@housefarmworkers.org to be added to the mailing list.