Pastures of Plenty
As we honor Cesar Chavez’ birthday, we take a look at California and the history of the work in the fields of California with the first episode of "Pastures of Plenty."
"Pastures of Plenty" is a four-part radio series exploring the lives of farm workers in California from Statehood to the present. California is the top-producing agricultural state in the U.S., and as such, relies heavily on manual labor to feed the nation and the world. But who are those people bent over the rows? We usually see them from a distance. This series brings them up close. Through oral histories of workers and their descendants, historians, and archival audio, we hear about how lives were built, and some times broken, in the fields of California.
Part one: Hard Times in the Country: The Depression Years
This program looks at the European immigrants who came to work the fields of California. We’ll tour the farms of Ivano Comelli, son of an Italian farm worker, and Nita Gizdich, Croatian-American apple farmer. The decade of the 1930’s was marked by bloody labor battles across the state, in places like Pixley and Salinas, as workers began to demand their rights. As times got harder, thousands of families took to the roads, picking crops up and down the Central Valley. The Okies joined the migrant stream in 1935, swelling the ranks of unemployed pickers. We also hear about El Repatriacion, where law enforcement and immigration officials deported nearly 400,000 Mexican and American citizens of Mexican descent. We think we know this chapter of our history, but we haven’t heard this part.