Based on the results of the Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Farmworker Study, COFS in Action was created. Centro Binacional para el Desarollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO), Central California Environmental Justice Network (CCEJN), California Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS), and California Food and Farming Network (CFFN) all came together to lead Phase 3 of the COFS project. Ultimately, the goal is to change the system through grassroots organizing, using research as a tool to demonstrate the systems failures, and developing open lines of communication between farmworkers and agencies. This collective is built to hold agencies accountable to ensure they fulfill their duties to protect and serve farmworkers.
Thank you to our research partners throughout California. This project would not be possible without your expertise and dedication.
Bonnie Bade, Sara Blanco, Michelle Colato-Ochoa, Eric DeLeon, Joel Diringer, Susan Matias, Rick Mines, Noe Paramo, Dvera Saxton, Mily Treviño-Sauceda, Don Villarejo, and Gail Wadsworth
Coming from an immigrant farmworker household in rural California, I felt unseen; often forgotten by our representatives. I witnessed my community and loved ones struggle due to lack of resources. This fueled my passion to aid and fight for my community. I was granted the opportunity to work within the Central Valley through my fellowship with NextGen California. This organization afforded me the ability to work on three major components: (1) getting out the vote, (2) preventing further oil drilling in Arvin, and (3) organizing a march to “Keeping Families Together.” I loved my time in the organization as my passion grew to keep empowering my community. For this reason, I went on to earn my political science degree from UC Davis seeking to come back to the Central Valley. This past year, I was honored with the opportunity to be involved in Phase 2 of the California COVID-19 Farmworker Study. I am proud to be continuing my work with the California Institute for Rural Studies, and excited to return home to be bridging political advocacy and community.
Dvera I. Saxton, Ph.D. is a medical and environmental anthropologist based in the San Joaquin Valley. As a researcher with the California Institute for Rural Studies, she is supporting the COVID-19 farmworker study with qualitative study design and collaborative facilitation. This includes working with community-based organizations and researchers to engage with farmworkers about their lived experiences during the pandemic. This data supports agricultural workers and community based organizations in their efforts to promote systems and policy change. Dvera received her doctorate in anthropology, with an emphasis in race, gender, and social justice, from the American University in Washington, DC. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship with the Social Science Environmental Health Institute at Northeastern University in Boston, MA and recently became an Atlantic Senior Fellow for Equity in Brain Health with the Global Brain Health Institute, based at UC San Francisco. Her book, The Devil’s Fruit: Farmworkers, Health and Environmental Justice is available from Rutgers University Press, and is based on environmental and health justice activist research she conducted with farmworker communities and their children, grandchildren, and educator allies in the Pájaro and Salinas Valleys in 2010-2013. She is also an associate professor in the anthropology department at Fresno State, where she teaches first generation undergraduate students.
Ildi is the Executive Director of CIRS and has been with the organization for 7 years. She was the field manager for the Salinas/Pájaro Farm Worker Housing Study, supported research in the Eastern Coachella Valley and helped found the annual Rural Justice Summit in Merced. She also founded the Cal Ag Roots Project, which studies the history of California farming and tells stories about key moments in agriculture in the state. Ildi holds an M.S. in Community Development from UC Davis, where she also worked as a researcher, studying community food systems and California agriculture. She is the parent of a joyful, rambunctious kid and lives with her partner in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where she was born. Throughout her work in the food movement, Ildi’s approach always emphasizes partnership, bridge-building and justice.