Planting and Social Action 

 Two Weeks in Bridgman                   On-the-Fly Farms Bulletin #2

Fri, 14 May 2004 18:29:57 -00

On-the-Fly Farms Update Bulletin #2:
Items for Sale or Barter;
Social Action - Day Labor

Hello from Bridgman!

This bulletin is brought to you by On-the-Fly Farms, a project of
the soon-to-be-renamed Chicory Center. C'mon out here and think up
a better name. Win a bunch of arugula or turnips!

Thus far, we've planted over 50 different crops at On-the-Fly. Big
stuff is in the "next field over" - pumpkins (sugar, white, and big
'uns), corn (blue and purple too), squash (these great ones called
red curri that make sweet pies, crookneck, straightneck), and many
varieties of pole and bush beans. Closer to home, there are five or
six different tomatoes, beefsteak and then heirlooms; turnips 
galore; three different carrots; fingerling and caribe and yellow 
russet potatoes; sunflowers of five varieties; black tomatoes too; black and
purple eggplants; moon and sun watermelons, as well as crimson 
sugar and crimson babies; and purple podded pole beans. B. is 
bringing out some Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans to plant, these 
are just as the name suggests, and surely come with a 
responsibility; cantaloupes and casabas; lettuce and mesclun and 
snow peas; zucchini and zinnias and patty pan squash; leeks!; 
three different cukes; and kale and many herbs and wildflowers! 
How's that for a start?? Now we're just in the middle of planting 
succession crops of, say, carrots, to provide more as the year 
goes on.

Two days ago, I signed up for the Bridgman Farmers' Market - may 
have a little arugula to sell with the coffee roasted here, come 
May 29, the first market!

So, what's available now??! Not many crops yet! Looks like the
blackberries and strawberries will be in about a month.

So for now, there is some mint, that smells like spearmint but is
fluffier-looking; our first crop! I will pick a big bunch for you,
for a dollar or a cookie.

To augment our first crop, we've still got home-roasted Zapatista
coffee; and freshly-roasted Maya Vinic decaf coffee, also from
Chiapas. The cost is $6 for a half-pound, $10 for a pound ($11 a
pound for decaf).

Still available from the Mut Vitz Cooperative, are 23 oz. jars of
honey, made by bees feasting on the coffee flowers on the Zapatista
coffee plants! Tasty. These are $7.

The other item, still available, is fairly-traded, organic olive 
oil from Palestine. This oil is a project of the Palestinian 
Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC). This olive oil costs $15 
for a 750 ml bottle, and is the tastiest olive oil! Part of the 
proceeds go to PARC's Rural Women's Development Project.

On another note, a few of us at On-the-Fly are involved with efforts
to support Day Laborers in Chicago. Day laborers congregate at a
dozen corners throughout the city, taking whatever work is 
available. This work might include moving services, construction, 
roofing, painting, lawn maintenance. Often, these workers - who 
come from all over the world, including Mexico, Central and South 
, Puerto Rico, Mongolia, Korea, Poland, and many other 
lands - are exploited by the contractors and employers who hire 

One way that day laborers are most reprehensibly exploited is when
they toil for a day, a week, or longer - and then are not paid AT
ALL. This type of exploitation is indeed of epidemic proportions;
it's happened to nearly every day laborer. In response to this
reality, the Latino Union has formed a Wage Theft Task Force,
continuing and formalizing a four-year effort of the Union.

Currently, C. and I are working on a case involving Martin and
Raul, both from Mexico. Martin and Raul worked for two weeks 
for a contractor who has refused to pay them in full; each is
owed around $800. The contractor, Teofil Dobre, is an immigrant
himself, from Romania, and though not rich, finds that by 
exploiting other immigrants - poorer immigrants of color - he can 
cut his costs.

Our efforts to support Martin and Raul have been many, without
evident success up to this point. But our visits to the contractors'
house, a proposed picket, numerous phone calls to the contractor,
filing charges with the Illinois Department of Labor, and other
tactics chosen by the workers, may have the cumulative effect of
wearing Teofil down. We cannot tolerate such blatant racism if we
choose to create and live in a just society.

A step Martin and Raul are considering now is filing charges in 
the Cook County Pro-Se Court. "Pro-Se" means "on one's own behalf,"
and in this court one can bring charges of up to $1,500 against a
defendant. In Pro-Se court, Martin and Raul would not rely upon
lawyers, but would make their own case. Proving Teofil's guilt 
would not be difficult, for he wrote two checks that bounced.

The step, one of many in a scenario repeated in dozens of situations
taken on the the Wage Theft Task Force, is the one that actually
comes with a steep cost, in the area of $140 per worker, perhaps
beyond what Martin and Raul can afford. If you would like to assist
this effort by chipping in for filing charges, let us know. (If you
would rather assist by joining a picket and neighbor-education
program outside Teofil's house, let me know about that too!)

I hope that this mix of farming news and social action is to your
tastes. It seems that justice must be sought in a variety of ways.

If you would like to order mint, coffee, honey, or olive oil right
now, or assist the efforts of the day laborers, send an email, or
call. If you compost at home, or would be willing to set aside your kitchen scraps, On-the-Fly would be glad to take your
scraps out of the waste stream and out to the farm. Deliveries are
available Sunday evening or Monday, May 16 and May 17.