The Life Of A Migrant Worker In Southeast Ohio

By
Pat Traylor

Dateline
Updated Fri, Jun 1, 2012 3:58 pm

"We do not want to cause or bring any kind of problems to the community," says Tom Witten, the production manager of Witten Farms. 

He runs a third-generation family farm along the Muskingum River in Washington County. "Our markets have never been busier; the community wants what we are trying to produce."
 
When Witten was still in elementary school, his father began hiring seasonal migrant laborers to replace a declining supply of local labor. Witten still hires seasonal workers through a federal visa program.
 
"At the base layer are these 20 guys putting in 70 hours a week and the fact that they are the least appreciated is upsetting to me and my family in general," said Witten.
 
Men like 33-year-old Sergio Sanchez make the journey from Mexico each season to work the fields and greenhouses nine months out of the year.
 
"Yes, it's difficult to be away from my family," he says. "But oh well, you have to look for a way of life."
 
Sanchez, who is married with two kids, sends about half of his paycheck each week back to Mexico to support his family.  
 
"That's the reason for being here, to support the family. Otherwise, we'd stay in Mexico-what would we do here?" says Sanchez. "Living with my companions, we all like it. Of course without our families, but this is the family that we have here, in Mexico is the other. If life turns to let me retire, maybe yes.  Or maybe life won't reach that point. That's why, I don't know. Here we are in the present, and we'll see what happens in the future. The days pass, and the years, and we look at what we have, and what we'll do next."
 
Soul of Athens is an awarding winning online multimedia publication created every year by more than 100 students at Ohio University. WOUB in partnership with Soul of Athens brings you some of the stories they're working on for this year's edition. 
 

Slideshow: The Life Of A Migrant Worker In Southeast Ohio

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