I am from Mexico. I came alone just for opportunities. In Mexico there are few opportunities. I have been here for 30 years.
I was a strawberry picker in Watsonville and then I went to Santa Rosa to pick grapes and pears but I spent most of my time as a farmworker in the Watsonville area picking strawberries and apples. I worked as a farmworker for 30 years.
But I had a back injury and I was concerned my employer was going to close shop so I decided to start my own farm. I went to a good produce distributor and I started working with them. I started with baby broccoli but when the season came for tomatoes, I grew heirloom tomatoes because that is what I knew best from my previous employer.
I have three children; one son and two daughters. The daughters are twins and they are all at universities. They all in their last year finishing their four year degree. My son is one year older than his twin sisters but they caught up and they went all at once to university all together. My son is studying electrical engineering at Cal Poly and my twin girls are at UCLA. One is studying to be a lawyer and the other is studying to be a surgeon.
I was very motivated to give my children a good education. I told myself “I’m not going to be around this weekend because I have to take my kids to competitions.” I would take my kids all over the state for math competitions. My wife and I would go and they would all win all these competitions. My wife is working in early childhood development in pre-school.
My kids are American citizens. So am I- there was an amnesty in the 90’s – that’s how I got my papers.
It is much more difficult now. They should find a solution so people can just work here. I have one employee. Look at all this. I can’t find employees so I am losing a lot of my potential crop. It is very challenging. We came to work, not to be criminals, not to steal. We’re contributing to the food chain, no drugs, no public assistance. My kids have taken loans and I am paying the difference and they’re doing great. My goal was to make my kids more successful than me and I have faith they will succeed.