SAWP helps connect farms with seasonal help

Community Mar 20, 2017 by Julia Lovett Flamborough Review

Now that spring is here, seasonal workers from Mexico and Caribbean countries are coming to Canada once again to help farmers tend to their crops.

“These guys aren’t just workers anymore, some of these guys have worked for me for 30 years and they become almost family to you,” said Ken Forth of Forthdale Farms in Lynden.

Forth, who is the president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), which acts as the facilitator and co-ordinator for the workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), said seasonal workers have already arrived at many of the farms across Ontario working in the greenhouses.

“The average worker comes here for 22 weeks — the average worker. Ours come here for probably between about 28 but they can stay as long as eight months,” he said, adding that they repeat the process the following year.

According to a press release, about 2,500 workers have arrived in Ontario and by the height of the season, more than 17,000 labourers will be helping to pick fruit and vegetables alongside the province’s farmers at roughly 1,450 farms. When SAWP began in the mid-1960s, the goal of the program was to help fill the shortage of apple pickers by bringing over workers from Jamaica. Since then, it has grown to include all types of crops and has expanded participating countries.

“Canada gets a $5-billion business, because without this program our fruit and vegetable industry would be a cottage industry because there’s not enough people,” Forth said, noting that there is a spinoff effect where the local economy benefits because the workers spend money on goods in the communities where they work.

Forth explained that the sole reason the program exists is because farms cannot find domestic labour as more and more people are moving away from the agricultural industry — although SAWP ( in the Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Workers  Program), is still a “Canadians first” program.

Since becoming federally incorporated in 1987, FARMS has lifted people up because the money the workers earn goes right back into their home communities, Forth said.

The workers, who come from Mexico, Barbados, Jamaica, The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a part of the Eastern Caribbean states), have over the years built up successful lives.

“These guys … go home and they build better houses, they buy little farms or they buy little businesses or whatever … but the main thing is a lot of them educate their children to university level that they never had the chance to do,” he said.

“You can throw money at a country if you want but if you educate that country, you change the country,” added Forth.

Last year the 50th anniversary of SAWP was celebrated in Jamaica. A woman whose husband was a part of the program for 46 years and still working in Niagara at the time, collected a special award on his behalf.

“She said that ‘I have two children, one of them (is) a medical doctor and one is a lawyer as a result of this program.’ That’s the untold story of this thing.”

Forth explained that because of the program, farms in Ontario have been able to stay viable. His family has also grown up with the workers and it is an easy camaraderie.

“My son, he’s younger than when I started this program. He grew up around these guys … and now my grandson is the same way. He’s three years old, goes out and talks to the guys, has fun with them, it’s all good.”

He explained that it doesn’t matter where you work or who you are, if you get fulfilment from it and can have a good time working together, that’s the key.

“That’s what we try to do, we try to make them have some fun here too.”

For more information, visit farmsontario.ca

SAWP helps connect farms with seasonal help

Community Mar 20, 2017 by Julia Lovett Flamborough Review

Now that spring is here, seasonal workers from Mexico and Caribbean countries are coming to Canada once again to help farmers tend to their crops.

“These guys aren’t just workers anymore, some of these guys have worked for me for 30 years and they become almost family to you,” said Ken Forth of Forthdale Farms in Lynden.

Forth, who is the president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), which acts as the facilitator and co-ordinator for the workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), said seasonal workers have already arrived at many of the farms across Ontario working in the greenhouses.

“The average worker comes here for 22 weeks — the average worker. Ours come here for probably between about 28 but they can stay as long as eight months,” he said, adding that they repeat the process the following year.

According to a press release, about 2,500 workers have arrived in Ontario and by the height of the season, more than 17,000 labourers will be helping to pick fruit and vegetables alongside the province’s farmers at roughly 1,450 farms. When SAWP began in the mid-1960s, the goal of the program was to help fill the shortage of apple pickers by bringing over workers from Jamaica. Since then, it has grown to include all types of crops and has expanded participating countries.

“Canada gets a $5-billion business, because without this program our fruit and vegetable industry would be a cottage industry because there’s not enough people,” Forth said, noting that there is a spinoff effect where the local economy benefits because the workers spend money on goods in the communities where they work.

Forth explained that the sole reason the program exists is because farms cannot find domestic labour as more and more people are moving away from the agricultural industry — although SAWP ( in the Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Workers  Program), is still a “Canadians first” program.

Since becoming federally incorporated in 1987, FARMS has lifted people up because the money the workers earn goes right back into their home communities, Forth said.

The workers, who come from Mexico, Barbados, Jamaica, The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a part of the Eastern Caribbean states), have over the years built up successful lives.

“These guys … go home and they build better houses, they buy little farms or they buy little businesses or whatever … but the main thing is a lot of them educate their children to university level that they never had the chance to do,” he said.

“You can throw money at a country if you want but if you educate that country, you change the country,” added Forth.

Last year the 50th anniversary of SAWP was celebrated in Jamaica. A woman whose husband was a part of the program for 46 years and still working in Niagara at the time, collected a special award on his behalf.

“She said that ‘I have two children, one of them (is) a medical doctor and one is a lawyer as a result of this program.’ That’s the untold story of this thing.”

Forth explained that because of the program, farms in Ontario have been able to stay viable. His family has also grown up with the workers and it is an easy camaraderie.

“My son, he’s younger than when I started this program. He grew up around these guys … and now my grandson is the same way. He’s three years old, goes out and talks to the guys, has fun with them, it’s all good.”

He explained that it doesn’t matter where you work or who you are, if you get fulfilment from it and can have a good time working together, that’s the key.

“That’s what we try to do, we try to make them have some fun here too.”

For more information, visit farmsontario.ca

SAWP helps connect farms with seasonal help

Community Mar 20, 2017 by Julia Lovett Flamborough Review

Now that spring is here, seasonal workers from Mexico and Caribbean countries are coming to Canada once again to help farmers tend to their crops.

“These guys aren’t just workers anymore, some of these guys have worked for me for 30 years and they become almost family to you,” said Ken Forth of Forthdale Farms in Lynden.

Forth, who is the president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services (FARMS), which acts as the facilitator and co-ordinator for the workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), said seasonal workers have already arrived at many of the farms across Ontario working in the greenhouses.

“The average worker comes here for 22 weeks — the average worker. Ours come here for probably between about 28 but they can stay as long as eight months,” he said, adding that they repeat the process the following year.

According to a press release, about 2,500 workers have arrived in Ontario and by the height of the season, more than 17,000 labourers will be helping to pick fruit and vegetables alongside the province’s farmers at roughly 1,450 farms. When SAWP began in the mid-1960s, the goal of the program was to help fill the shortage of apple pickers by bringing over workers from Jamaica. Since then, it has grown to include all types of crops and has expanded participating countries.

“Canada gets a $5-billion business, because without this program our fruit and vegetable industry would be a cottage industry because there’s not enough people,” Forth said, noting that there is a spinoff effect where the local economy benefits because the workers spend money on goods in the communities where they work.

Forth explained that the sole reason the program exists is because farms cannot find domestic labour as more and more people are moving away from the agricultural industry — although SAWP ( in the Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Workers  Program), is still a “Canadians first” program.

Since becoming federally incorporated in 1987, FARMS has lifted people up because the money the workers earn goes right back into their home communities, Forth said.

The workers, who come from Mexico, Barbados, Jamaica, The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are a part of the Eastern Caribbean states), have over the years built up successful lives.

“These guys … go home and they build better houses, they buy little farms or they buy little businesses or whatever … but the main thing is a lot of them educate their children to university level that they never had the chance to do,” he said.

“You can throw money at a country if you want but if you educate that country, you change the country,” added Forth.

Last year the 50th anniversary of SAWP was celebrated in Jamaica. A woman whose husband was a part of the program for 46 years and still working in Niagara at the time, collected a special award on his behalf.

“She said that ‘I have two children, one of them (is) a medical doctor and one is a lawyer as a result of this program.’ That’s the untold story of this thing.”

Forth explained that because of the program, farms in Ontario have been able to stay viable. His family has also grown up with the workers and it is an easy camaraderie.

“My son, he’s younger than when I started this program. He grew up around these guys … and now my grandson is the same way. He’s three years old, goes out and talks to the guys, has fun with them, it’s all good.”

He explained that it doesn’t matter where you work or who you are, if you get fulfilment from it and can have a good time working together, that’s the key.

“That’s what we try to do, we try to make them have some fun here too.”

For more information, visit farmsontario.ca