TODAY'S NEWS

Newest Fair Food Program participating grower, Smoky Mountain Family Farms, expands operations in Tennessee, expanding the groundbreaking protections of the Fair Food Program to hundreds of new workers in the process...

PLUS: CIW holds inaugural education session with Bloomia workers in Virginia!   

Bloomia Health and Safety Manager, Soraya Buckner, introducing the FFP Education Team: "This is a special group of people, who are here willing to share their experience and knowledge about how to increase human dignity and respect in the work environment, to help us understand our rights as human beings and as workers."

Despite all the travails of 2020 (and now, 2021...), one of the rare bright spots of the past year has been the steady expansion of the Fair Food Program to new states and new industries.  For the women and men laboring on new Fair Food Program farms, whether they are harvesting tomatoes or tending tulips, the FFP ushers in a new era in which workers are equipped with a deep understanding of their rights on the job, the tools to report abuses when they take place, and most importantly, the power to ensure those rights are made real every day.  That heartening expansion of human rights in the fields continued apace last month with the news that Smoky Mountain Farms, one of the Fair Food Program's newest partners, announced a major acquisition in Tennessee and has proudly committed to expanding the groundbreaking protections of the Fair Food Program to hundreds of new workers in the process.  Here is an excerpt of the story from the industry news hub, The Packer

Smoky Mountain Family Farms announces expansion plan, acquisition 

Tennessee-based Smoky Mountain Family Farms, a partnership between the Pappas, Esformes and Hellers tomato farming and distribution families has announced the purchase of Midway, Tenn.-based Triple C Family Farms. 

Smoky Mountain Family Farms is the first and only Tennessee farm to be certified by the Fair Food Program in partnership with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, according to a news release. The acquisition by Smoky Mountain Family Farms includes an expansion of the programs reach for fair treatment of farm workers into Tennessee...

...With the acquisition, production of Smoky Mountain Family Farms will triple in 2021, the release said.

As readers of this site will remember, within a month of the announcement of Smoky Mountain Family Farms joining the Program, we also announced the expansion of the Fair Food Program into the cut flower industry, bringing the largest East Coast flower company, Bloomia, into the Fair Food fold.  Last month, the CIW's education team hit the road north for the inaugural round of education for tulip workers in Virginia.  Over the course of three days, Bloomia workers took the CIW staff on a deep-dive tour of the careful labor that goes into growing some of the world's most delicate blooms, from bulb to box.  In turn, CIW conducted extended, interactive education sessions with the program's newest workers, fielding questions about the FFP and the new protections that Bloomia workers now enjoy. 

As she introduced the education session, Soraya Buckner, the company's new Health and Safety Manager, reflected the company's embrace of the Fair Food Program and pride in being the first cut flower company to join:

“This is a special group of people, who are here willing to share their experience and knowledge about how to increase human dignity and respect in the work environment, to help us understand our rights as human beings and as workers.  This group is part of the Fair Food Program and the CIW.  I invite you all to take this opportunity to listen, to learn, to ask, to participate in this conversation.  This is a space provided by Bloomia and the Fair Food Program to speak and share.  [The FFP] is more than a bonus on a check.  It’s much more than that.  Because this bonus is a result of a lot of work done by this group of people who are looking for more dignity and fairness in the work environment.  It is a group of people who also want the problems or difficulties that we may have to be an opportunity to learn, and to resolve conflicts as civilized human beings.”

We know that a picture is worth a thousand words and can best convey the beauty of this unique crop and how it is grown and harvested (not to mention the energy and excitement in the room for the education session itself), so click through below to see a slideshow of photos of the inaugural CIW education team experience from the first of many years of partnership with Bloomia!

See the photos!

 

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