Tobacco Harvest near Tillsonburg ON Canada

Discussion in 'Photography and Art' started by Durgan, Sep 28, 2009.

  1. Durgan

    Durgan Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,971
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Brantford,Ontario, Canada
    http://www.durgan.org/URL/?OQKCL
    Tobacco Harvest near Tillsonburg ON Canada. This is on the Canadian side of Lake Erie.

    The workers are brought in on permit annually from the Caribbean. The rubber muscle generation finds the work too physical. Unemployment in Canada is around 10%. Pay for agriculture workers is minimum wage, around $10.00 per hour.

    Governments are discouraging tobacco use, and slowly forcing growers to eliminate the tobacco crops.

    Marijuana growing in the corn fields is common. Search aand destroy missions are untaken by authorities to wipe this practice out, with various degrees of success. Private pilots and farmers don't report crops due to possible trouble from the illegal growers, and many people don't consider marijuana growing as an issue.
     
  2. hanna

    hanna Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Arkansas, USA
    I enjoyed the story you told with the series of photos of the tobacco harvest - I had no idea how tobacco was harvested, stored or prepared - are the leaves dried in some kind of smoke house?
    It is quite some operation and labor intensive, it looks like.
    Who is the family at the end of the picture show? The farmer and his family?
    Can you write more about what the process is before the leaves are sold?
    Thanks for the documentation of a tobacco harvest, quite educational in many aspects and great picture quality, too. Wonderful.
     
  3. hanna

    hanna Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Arkansas, USA
    I enjoyed the story you told with the series of photos of the tobacco harvest - I had no idea how tobacco was harvested, stored or prepared - are the leaves dried in some kind of smoke house?
    It is quite some operation and labor intensive, it looks like.
    Who is the family at the end of the picture show? The farmer and his family?
    Can you write more about what the process is before the leaves are sold?
    Thanks for the documentation of a tobacco harvest, quite educational in many aspects and great picture quality, too. Wonderful.
    P.S. Just noticed that there were captions at the bottom of the photos.
    So the Mennonite family traveled all the way from Mexico to work on the tobacco fields in Canada-
    - do they have relatives in Canada or why would they make this long trip?
    How did they find out about the available work?
    Does the farm provide housing for the guest workers?
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2009
  4. Durgan

    Durgan Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,971
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Brantford,Ontario, Canada
    The Mennonite family was watching a local air show. They were so photogenic that I asked to take a picture. They spoke only German and little English. Later I was told that they were relatives visiting from a Mennonite colony in Mexico. Many Mennonites farm in this area.

    The workers get some sub-standard accommodation, and minimum wage. The governments stay away and only interfere if there is abuse. Then the workers are deported without a season's wages. An hour's pay is about equal to a days pay in the area from which they traveled. Workers are at the mercy of the contractors, and the family for whom they work. So treatment is mixed but never discussed openly, particularly by the workers. There is some minor effort to standardize conditions by activists, with little result. Farm labor is always a problem, since Canadians wont do the work, probably due to the physical effort and the relatively low pay. The hiring is done by contractors, who of course, take their cut out of the workers pay. Some would consider the workers slaves only they are paid now instead of being bought.

    I know little about tobacco processing. Only what I observe. Fortunately, I was in the area at this stage of harvest, so took the pictures. The plants have the leaves picked over a short period of time stating at the bottom of the plant. The workers now sit on an arm on a tractor about two on each side on a seat, and pick the leaves. Harvest is probably over a two week period to complete. The pictures depict the final removal from the field.

    Smoking is probably to enhance flavor, and encourage drying. The process is sort of critical, hence little home curing is undertaken in small quantities. But for smokers growing your own and building a small smoke house will become more common in the future, due the high cost of tobacco products. I have grown the tobacco plant, but never processed or cured. The plants grow well and the flowers are very pretty. Commercial growers don't allow the plant to flower, by removing the top buds.
     
  5. hanna

    hanna Active Member

    Messages:
    126
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Arkansas, USA
    Thanks for the detailed response - I find it most interesting


    I live in central Arkansas and some farm help - maybe even a lot - seems to come from Mexico- I see them year round on one farm, that also grows labor intensive strawberries and tomatoes-

    the minimum wage in the USA is below $ 8.00 and for farm work it may be even less -
    and considering our health care system, they probably don't have insurance with 40 millions
    US Americans uninsured-

    those workers get driven around in vans, where the seats are taken out, or in the beds of pickup trucks, I'm sure that's a violation, I have seen them work in worst weather condition, hot and humid in summer in the 100's, rainy and cold in fall or winter, no rain gear - deplorable - I doubt any US American would work like this for those wages - the fields are right next to a busy road for commuters, so many get to see the hard labor those people perform - I agree with your assessment
    of their possible exploitation - it is depressing and a shame
     

Share This Page