Migrant Workers and Dairy Farmers in Addison County, Vermont

Felipe and Enedina going to work at a dairy farm in Addison, Vermont.

 

I first started photographing Latino farm workers in 2006, after I noticed several young Mexican men shopping at the Whiting General Store. Vermont is not very diverse and I wondered what these men were doing in the rural Green Mountain State. It turns out they were milking cows.

I teamed up with ESL and Spanish teacher Chris Urban, who knew many of the workers, and we created a multimedia exhibit called “The Golden Cage – Migrant Workers and Vermont Dairy Farmers”, with help from the late Greg Sharrow at the Vermont Folklife Center in Middlebury. The exhibit has toured the state, been published in Vermont Life and been shown at Senator Bernie Sander’s office in Washington, DC. It has helped raise awareness about how migrants play a crucial role in Vermont’s economy and about the need for immigration reform. The organization Migrant Justice was formed in 2009 in Burlington, Vermont and organizes for the economic justice and human rights of farm workers in Vermont.

Sami Santos Rincon milking cows with her baby son Brian in Shoreham, Vermont.

 

An important contact for the project was Susan Veguez, who is friends with many of the migrant mothers and children. In 2008 I photographed her friend, Sami Santos Rincon, milking cows with her baby son Brian in a car seat cloaked in mosquito netting to protect from flies. Sami and Brian are now back in Mexico and Brian is thirteen years old.

Victor Diaz and Ivan Dominguez in the milking parlor at the Vorsteveld Farm in Panton, Vermont.

 

Over the thirteen years since I have been working on this project, life moves on. I lost my brother Roger to cancer in 2009, which left a gaping hole in our family. We carried on, keeping him always in our memory. In 2013, our son was born prematurely at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. He spent three months in the hospital before coming home. He is now a healthy and happy five-year old who loves building with Magna-Tiles and hiking to Silver Lake. I can only imagine what’s gone on in the lives of the farm workers I photographed. Many have returned to Mexico or other Central American countries. Some are still here in Addison County, adding to the economy and culture of Vermont.

I am grateful for photo editor Mary Vignoles for helping me create this new edit of my migrant worker project. As a photographer, you get attached to certain images for whatever reason, and it can be very helpful to get an outside perspective on editing a photo essay and making it stronger.

Seven Days Cover, March 2019

 

Most recently I made photos of migrant workers at the Vorsteveld farm in Panton, Vermont a few weeks ago for a cover story by Chelsea Edgar in Seven Days. I had been at the farm in 2015 for a New York Times story on migrant workers and had photographed Victor Diaz. Back then I did not meet the Vorsteveld brothers. But this time I did meet Hans, Rudy and Gerard Vorsteveld. It was great to come full circle and photograph the dairy farmers and the migrant workers, as a team, milking cows in the Vermont countryside every day of the year.

Check out the full portfolio on my website.

A New Site for a New Year

I had a fun assignment for the Vermont Conservation & Housing Board to photograph Prospect Mountain Ski Area in Woodford, the highest nordic area in Vermont.

 

For the past few months I’ve been working on a new website that pulls into focus the kind of photography I love to do. For me it comes down to beautiful landscapes and engaging portraits. Working with Freelance Picture Editor Mary Vignoles, I boiled down my images to those that best captured my style as a photographer – lots of color, vibrant light and fresh perspectives. I hope you enjoy the new website!

Sanderson Covered Bridge in Brandon, Vermont was recently damaged by a reckless truck driver. Many covered bridges in Vermont are threatened by errant vehicles, vandalism and fire.

I went out to do drone photos of Huff Pond, but then found this small mud pond nearby that made for a more interesting composition in Sudbury, Vermont.

I love making drone photos at twilight, this one in Middlebury, Vermont. Eight of my recent photos were chosen by Travel+Leisure for the Photo of the Day web feature.

Although I often like including the horizon in my drone photos, recently I’ve enjoyed pointing the camera straight down and looking for more abstract images like this one of a maple tree in snow on the Des Marais Farm in Brandon, Vermont.

I went to the University of Vermont for my freshmen year and have always loved Burlington, Vermont. Twilight is one of my favorite times to make photographs.

Francis Giles was one of my earliest photography mentors. Many years ago he operated Photo Vermont Workshops above Nectar’s on Main Street in Burlington. He now lives in North Quincy, Massachusetts.

Making portraits is one of my favorite types of assignments. Entering someone’s world briefly and trying to make an effective set of pictures is a great honor and challenge. Jessica for the Vermont Conservation & Housing Board

Rosie and Muffin for the Housing Trust of Rutland County

Stephanie Jerome, Vermont House of Representatives

I grew up in this house on a hill overlooking Brandon, Vermont and was influenced by its tall windows which let in light and provide an ever changing view of the seasons.