California Institute for Rural Studies

Meet the 3 New Cal Ag Roots Co-Producers!

In July, 2019, three new storytellers joined the Cal Ag Roots team in response to a spring call-out for stories from rural California. Hektor Calderon, Jennifer Martinez and Erika Ramirez-Mayoral are co-producing stories and will be adding their voices to our podcast stream at the end of the year. We received many response to our call for storytellers and these three new audio producers were selected because of their compelling story ideas. Be sure to subscribe to the show– on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or wherever you listen– to catch their stories.

Jennifer Martinez (left) is a PhD student studying Public Policy at Portland State University. Ss as an extensive background studying public finance systems in the US and Mexico. Her dissertation explores the connection between remittances and public participation in Mexico. As a daughter to farmworkers and sister of a deported veteran, Jennifer is motivated to connect her advocacy efforts to her scholarly work. He Cal Ag Roots story digs into the history of the National Labor Relations Act to ask why in California, despite being the center of farm labor movements, framworker retirement funds are not guaranteed to provide a fair income to aging workers.

Hektor Calderon (center) was born in Mexico City and grew up in Santa Ana in Southern California. He received a BA from San Diego State in International Business with an emphasis in Management in the region of Latin America and completed an apprenticeship with the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, where he earned an advanced certificate in Ecological Horticulture. Hektor has worked on diversified vegetable production operations both in Northern and Southern California and has also worked with orchard trees both residentially and on small-scale farms. Hektor is the son of immigrants, a protector of food justice, food sustainability and food sovereignty issues. Hektor is working as a Farmer Justice Fellow with the California Farmer Justice Collaborative, based out of the Agricultural and Land Based Training Association (ALBA) in the Salinas Valley. Hektor’s Cal Ag Roots story focuses on the history of exclusionary laws and policies that kept Californian farmers of color from owning land and which led to the fight for equal access to government resources which resulted in the passage of the 2017 Farmer Equity Act.

Erika Ramirez-Mayoral (right) is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Communication at UC San Diego, was raised in border towns, Mexicali and El Centro, and is an Imperial and Coachella Valley native. Before coming to UC San Diego she organized alongside young women and parents around education equity and co-founded Raices Girls and Women of Color Network, and Las Nepantleras in Coachella, CA. Her interdisciplinary scholarship and activist work explore the use of oral histories and personal narratives in social justice circles and community development in rural California. She is particularly concerned with the role of counter-narratives in urban planning and public policy. In addition, Erika is interested in the memorialization of space and builds on understandings of community archives and public resources through her work in narrative film and radio projects with various women from the Eastern Coachella Valley. Erika is now a CIRS staff member in the Coachella Valley. For Cal Ag Roots, Erika is exploring the story of Modesta Avila, a young Californio woman who was arrested in 1889 for obstructing the path of the Santa Fe railroad through her family’s property. Avila challenged what it meant to be a citizen and hold land rights at a time when California was becoming part of American– and she has become an iconic figure in the struggle for Southern California land rights.

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