Bridges Produce Grower Partner Rico Farms Introduces New Program to Improve Farm Workers' Lives
- by Jordan Okumura
HERMOSILLA, MX - Employees at Rico Farms are enjoying the fruits of their labor, as the company announced the completion of construction of an amphitheatre and recreation area for its 600 employees, thanks to Fair Trade Premiums from the Fair Trade USA program.
“We want to contribute to a better planet not only environmentally but also the quality of life for the people. Our true life purpose is not only about our own wellbeing, it is also about others and changing their lives for the better,” said Francisco Tapia, member of the Tapia family who own Rico Farms, when talking about the motivation behind the program, according to a press release.
Rico Farms, an organic and Fair Trade USA certified farm based in Hermosillo, Mexico produces organic summer and winter squash, cucumbers, melons, green beans, eggplant, and chilies. Partnering with Bridges Produce for marketing and distribution, Rico Farms has begun an innovative program focused on creating positive changes in its farmworkers’ lives. The principle goal for the Tapia Family, the owners of Rico Farms, is to educate and empower all of their employees.
The new space will serve as the central meeting area for this program. In a partnership with Hermosillo-based Sociedad Activa, Rico Farms will use movies, live theater, coaching, and direct feedback to focus on the themes of personal development, drug prevention, family, sports, culture, education, health, and personal finances.
Many of the workers have never been to the movies or to the theater, and will enjoy a rich line-up of films in the amphitheatre. In addition, Rico Farms is also implementing a fast track program which will teach reading and writing. Employees who were not able to complete their education are working in classes and with tutors, to graduate from elementary and junior high school. There are currently 125 participants in this fast track program and the Tapia family is hoping to see at least 200 people enrolled next season.
When asked about his previous education one worker shared, "I don't know how to read or write. I only learned my signature." Some Rico Farms’ staff have been certified as tutors and are now providing two hours of tutoring per week per person. Francisco said the workers have been grateful for the opportunity and stated: “Even though it is difficult for them, to work all day and then to study, they are trying very hard to graduate before leaving and they are motivating others to register for the program.”
The program is already having a positive impact on participants, with some stating: “It helps us with self-esteem to keep pushing forward, there are better things ahead to keep succeeding for ourselves and for our families that are waiting for us back at home"
Francisco and everyone at Rico Farms and Bridges Produce, would like to thank all the people who made this program possible including the artists, the government, the private initiative, the society Hermosillense and the workers of Rico Farms. He is also grateful to the produce buyers and consumers who choose Rico Farms produce, together they are all supporting this program and allowing it to continue to grow and creating a better world.