The following is an interview I had yesterday afternoon with Juan for our CSA newsletter:
Meet Your Farmer! In this section, we'll be profiling Juan and Agustin (see next week's newsletter), two of farmer Paul's employees who help the Abundant Table interns with work on the farm.
Juan Contreras is from the town of Querendalo in Michoacan, Mexico, a town famous for its annual chile festival. He moved to Oxnard in 1988 and worked in the lemon orchards for about nine years. Then, when NAFTA was implemented in the 90's, the market plummeted for Ventura County growers as cheaper lemons came in from other countries. Most of the lemon workers had to leave as orchards were replaced by strawberry fields. Juan was offered a job with his brother, Agustin, on the DeBusschere ranch working with avocados and beans.
Juan and his wife have four children, two of whom are married and live near them in Oxnard, plus one in college and one in high school. He enjoys tending his flower and chile garden at home and going out to eat in the evening with his family on his day off. Juan has two nicknames that his brother gave him: "Sophocles" and "The Philosopher," because of the higher education he had in Mexico and because of his quiet, reflective tendencies. Of all the vegetables on the farm, he says he can't pick a favorite since he likes them all. Keep an eye out on our website for recipes from Juan and Agustin - they know some good ones.
We are a young intentional community of five interns (sisterfriends) living and working on a 10 acre family farm on the Oxnard Plain. Though we come from far and near, our internship grew out of the campus ministry founded by the Episcopal Church at CSU Channel Islands. To learn more about our organic farm and Community Supported Agriculture program, please visit www.jointhefarm.com.