Authors

  1. Dotter, Earl

Article Content

These photographs and that on this month's cover are part of a touring exhibit by Earl Dotter and documentary reporter and audio producer Tennessee Watson called Farmworkers Feed Us All: The Labor and Health of Migrants in Maine. The project was sponsored by the Harvard School of Public Health and others in coordination with the Maine Migrant Health Program (MMHP). Dotter and Watson chose to focus on Maine largely because of the MMHP, which has offered migrant farmworkers low-cost health care (including training in pesticide and herbicide safety) through mobile clinics and nurse outreach teams since 1991. Through the exhibit, they hope to raise awareness of agricultural working conditions and the need for workers to have better access to basic health and social services. Migrant workers in Maine come from Central America, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean to harvest a variety of local crops and work in forestry, egg production, and dairy farming.

  
Figure. Miguel, a mi... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Miguel, a migrant farmworker from Mexico, has just completed a sweep filling his rake with wild lowbush blueberries in Washington County, Maine. Color photograph, variable print size, 2007.

These two photographs were taken in fields and barrens owned by two large blueberry companies in Washington County, Maine. Dotter explains, "The raker in the first photograph, Miguel, is one of a nine-man Mexican crew that has returned to work the Maine blueberry harvest for many seasons. He uses a technique called sweeping; the rake's momentum pulls the berries from the thick bushes. Growers prefer rakers to use a shorter, plucking motion to prevent damage to the berries, but this means workers must spend more time hunched over.

 

"In the second picture, a machine sprays herbicide in a remote blueberry barren early one morning. Federal law requires that warning signs be posted before such application begins and remain posted for at least two days thereafter. Yet the only notification on this occasion was the strong chemical odor coming from about half a mile down the road."

  
Figure. A pesticide ... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. A pesticide and herbicide application machine sprays wild lowbush blueberries with herbicide in Washington County, Maine. Color photograph, variable print size, 2007.

On the cover features another photograph from the exhibit. Dotter says, "Blueberry rakers are responsible for carrying empty boxes, which weigh about 2 lbs. each, to their assigned areas, filling them, and hauling them back to the road for collection. A full box weighs about 25 lbs. Depending on the terrain, the best rakers can fill between 50 and 150 boxes a day, for which they're paid about $2.50 each." For more information about the MMHP, visit http://www.mainemigrant.org.

 

Earl Dotter, an award-winning photojournalist, has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston since 1999. His work is in many permanent collections, including those of the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, and the International Center of Photography in New York City. For more of Dotter's work, visit http://www.earldotter.com. Contact artist: earldotter@verizon.net. Art of Nursing is coordinated by Sylvia Foley, senior editor: sylvia.foley@wolterskluwer.com.