Informal Collaborative Pop-Up on the Coast!
By Sheryl Young, San Mateo County Program Director
What do hydrangeas, empanadas, face masks, green hooded sweatshirts, chromebooks and tutors have in common? ALAS.
ALAS, a Latino centered nonprofit that began as a grassroots program in Half Moon Bay, provides cultural arts, education, mental health, immigration and social justice advocacy on the Coastside.
As a result of COVID-19, ALAS is visiting 5 farms in Half Moon Bay on Fridays to deliver food, water, and masks to farm workers and their families. Belinga Arriaga, Executive Director, invited us to visit one of the farms where she has initiated a collaboration with the University of San Francisco to provide an instructor and students to do field work with 40 children. Students have raised funds for chromebooks and are conducting classes and tutoring during the summer.
Another collaboration is with Chef Diego Felix from Colectivo Felix to provide free lunches for the families on this farm. Felix turned his restaurant into a catering business after COVID-19, and began an informal cooperative to also help other restaurants and help feed farm workers. “California produces 1/3 of the nation’s vegetables, 2/3 of fruits and nuts, and 90% of the strawberries. Farm workers have been laboring away for us since COVID-19, and yet have almost completely been excluded by government assistance programs. I wanted to help!” said Felix.
ALAS provides face masks made by women who lost their jobs due to COVID-19, water, and warm sweatshirts for workers on these farms. The sweatshirt logo, “Our Veggies are Moon Raised” was designed by local resident, Luis Velasco, to honor the dedicated farm workers who are getting food to our tables and to protect them from the cold fog and rain. ALAS is also helping support local entrepreneur, Serafin Avalos, to sell a variety of beans as his normal restaurant customers have cut back their orders.
As we left the farm that produces the beautiful pink, violet and blue hydrangeas, his daughter proudly pointed out her 66 year old father who has driven flowers to the Flower Market at 2 am each morning for over 40 years. We waved goodbye to the children as they raced to play with a new kitten, wishing we could stay longer! During these difficult times of COVID-19, it’s inspiring to see people coming together to help one another. Because of the dedication of these farm workers, and the support of the ALAS team, the children on this farm live in a supportive and loving community.
PVF is proud to provide grants to ALAS for their work through the generosity of our donors, and we are thankful and grateful for the Coastside farm worker community.