News From the Farm | September 19, 2016

My husband and I went to a wedding reception last night to celebrate the marriage of Edgar Jacobo and Martha Carrillo.  Edgar is the eldest son of Bonifacio and Maria Joaquina who are both team leaders at our farm.  Bonifacio has worked at Full Belly since 1988 and Joaquina has been here since 1993.  Bonifacio is the youngest of 10 siblings, born and raised in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico.  Like most of his brothers, Bonifacio started working on farms in Mexico when he was 12 years old, usually 7 days a week, saving money so that he could take the bus to school.

Most of Bonifacio’s siblings have also worked at Full Belly from time-to-time, and several of them are working now.  His elder brother Celso is running our cherry tomato crew.  His brother Sergio drives trucks to the city. Their wives also work at the farm.  Their father, Señor Bonifacio worked here, and still comes back every summer, despite our reluctance to see him working, given his many years of service — it’s time for him to enjoy some rest with his extended family!  And it is a large extended family, with many aunts, uncles, cousins and in-laws, so many that we need to draw a family tree to tease it all out. Probably more than 1/3 of our crew is somehow related to the Jacobo family.

Walking around the crowded room of 500 beautifully-dressed guests, I talked with the sons and daughters of our eldest crew members, many of whom had also worked at the farm, and who now are the doting parents of their own children. The sons and daughters are all bilingual, and some of their children now prefer English to Spanish.  The groom, Edgar  Jacobo went to school in Esparto, started working at Full Belly for the summers and then full-time for awhile, but moved on and is studying to become a police officer.  His sister Briceda is studying to be a nurse.

After dinner, the bride and groom danced together, then the parents came out on the dance floor, then the aunts and uncles, and in a ritualized sequence, parents danced with kids, brothers danced with in-laws, and cousins danced with each other. All the while the little kids were running circles around everyone.  Most of the guests were Hispanic and spoke Spanish, but a group of us gringos were there, feeling very lucky and special that we got to be part of California’s amazing cultural mix.

Bonifacio and Joaquina brought the same work ethic that they show at Full Belly Farm, to the preparation for the wedding of their eldest son. They missed a lot of farm work, cooking all the wedding food themselves and taking care of every detail.  The entire Full Belly crew, with all of their families, were at the wedding as well, cutting short our Saturday workday for what they believed were more important things.

How lucky it is that Full Belly, for so many years, has benefited so greatly from the leadership and hard-work ethic of these wonderful families.  We might be a very different place if it had not been so.

–Judith Redmond