News From the Farm | August 26, 2013

It’s time to meet another one of Full Belly’s crew. This week we would like to introduce you to Catalina Soto.

When did you start working at Full Belly Farm?

About 9 years ago.

What was different back then?

It has changed little by little. I learn every day. The farm was smaller when I got here, there were fewer flowers, melons and tomatoes. Now there is so much of everything! My first day I started picking bunches of chard with Alfonso and Jose. I don’t remember what else I picked my first day! Since then I have picked beans, cherry tomatoes, eggplant – I’ve picked all of it, but I haven’t driven the tractors or worked with the animals. Now I don’t pick anymore, instead I am in the packing shed and in the afternoon I organize the pallets and load trucks.

Tell me where you grew up.

It was in an agricultural town, similar to Guinda, in Sinaloa. When I was little my parents worked in the fields. They picked lots of things like squash and tomatoes. They picked flowers that you call marigolds in English. In the south of Mexico they are called Cenpazuchil. They also picked cotton. That was hard work and very little money. When I was 9 years old I went and worked in the fields with my father.  When you pick tomatoes in Mexico you put them in buckets and everyone has to work really fast to make money. We also worked in the chiles, tomatillos, jalapeños and squash. I started working permanently in the fields when I was 14 years old.

Is your family still living in Mexico? Do you want to go back some day?

All of my brothers and sisters and my father are still in Mexico, but my future is with my kids – and they are very happy here. I don’t think they want to go to Mexico.

How many years of school did you finish growing up in Mexico?

I finished about 9th grade – what we call middle school here. It was hard for my parents. They had to pay for each kid. For example in kindergarten you have to buy everything you need in school – paper, pencil, crayons.  Sometimes they have the books that you need and you don’t have to pay for them. You also have to pay for the bus to go to school.

I think it must be a little hard to work 6-days a week like we do at Full Belly for a lot of the year, at the same time as you are taking care of your 3 kids. 

It’s true, they want my time and take a lot of time – so it’s difficult, but they understand that it is part of life and that I have to work for them. Diana is the oldest – she is 12 years old and she understands, but nonetheless, she wants more time with me. She wants to visit new places.

Here’s something I have often wondered about: In the United States, women often take the surnames of their husbands, but sometimes they keep their old surname and sometimes they create a hyphenated name. How does it work in Mexico?

In Mexico, the women keep their surnames the same, but add their husband’s surname after “de.”  So for example, my full name is Catalina Soto de Gomez, because my husband Jose’s surname is Gomez.  I’m not used to the surname Gomez, so I mostly just use my own name, Soto.

Is there anything that you would like to say to our members?

I hope that they are happy with everything that we send to them.  This is the life of Full Belly.