Farm With Once Horrid Working Conditions Turns Into A Family

Jessi Smith, age 20, explains her experience of working as a farmer in Mid-Hudson, NY. 

Jessi Smith holds a bag of greens during her summer internship at a farm in mid-Hudson. Photo courtesy of Jessi Smith.

People died in the fields. It’s haunted. I had a paid internship over the summer at a farm in Mid-Hudson, NY, back home. 

They used to have people who had just moved to America come and work there. It was not the best environment, and people died in the fields while working. The past keeper who used to live at the now chef’s house, died there. Everyone said they could hear the past keeper talking to them. 

I started work at 8 a.m. and then went to 1 p.m. because they want you in and out before the sun gets you. There’s no shade in the fields. I would get there and clock in. I would open the greenhouse by watering everything. We usually had tomatoes and lettuce in there so if anything needed to be picked, I would do that. My boss always had pretty flowers outside so I would be sure to water those too. The whole farm is family, it’s cute.

Then, it was time to go up to the fields before it got too hot. Towards the beginning of the summer, we would be planting many crops like cabbage, corn, peppers, string beans, and more. Once the plants started growing, it was more harvesting and weeding. 

It became too hot to keep working in the fields around noon. I would go do barn work, and barn work was the best. They would send me to the barn to clean so I was out of the sun. That was the end of my day. 

This is the best job because it’s not mentally draining, it’s physically draining. I get home and I’m tired, sweaty, and gross. I just want to shower and sleep. Then I know I had a good day at work.

My coworker was formerly incarcerated. I think that it’s great they gave him an opportunity to work there. My boss fought with her higher-ups here because they didn’t want him at first. Then, they were like, “You know what? This guy seems like a nice dude.” So, they gave him a shot. Now, he’s full-time, lives on the farm, makes a lot of money, and is basically set for life.

They’re not judgmental about your past. They know that people change, and clearly my coworker was an example of that. He works his ass off every goddamn day and is appreciative they gave him a chance.  

I think it just shows that it’s more like a family there. Everyone knows each other. We’re all there every single day together. It’s much more of a family than bigger, corporate farms. I like how they just let everyone in, at the same time. Your past isn’t always who you are now.

Erin Carlson

Erin Carlson is a 19-year-old journalism student studying at SUNY New Paltz. She has previously interned for Save Ancient Studies Alliance and is currently interning with the Office of Campus Sustainability at SUNY New Paltz. She aspires to work with a production team to write for documentaries.

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