Some of you have questioned the reason for creating the Farmworkers Campground as opposed to having farmers provide accommodations for their workers. They ask why there should be a campground at all. Besides the obvious reasons for such an arrangement here are a few other reasons why we have created a campground.
Let me begin by saying that in recent times most farmers are providing for their workers even if it is as simple as a place to pitch a tent with water available and an out house. Some farmers, if they are large enough provide elaborate accommodations for their workers with hot showers, flush toilets, rooms and a community kitchen with fridge, stoves, and some even have houses for their full time workers. This is all well and good if the worker is lucky to be employed by these farmers; however before this occurs, the workers need to find these farms. The workers are directed to the newly developed campground where they are able to sit and contemplate for a moment and discover how and where to obtain employment, this site was established last year just outside the village boundaries near the dike for this purpose.
The campground provides a sanctioned place for farm workers to allow them, once they arrive, to find their bearings before venturing out into the community and outlying farms. It is a safe place that allows them to rest after traveling hundreds or even thousands of kilometers from their origins. Their goal for the most part is to earn money to go back to university, travel or provide for their young families. The campground also provides a place for an interim between jobs. Not all farmers have enough work for the entire season and so workers may have a job for only a few weeks then will need to find another job if they want to stay in the area. Once the work is done on the farm most farmers will not want the workers staying on their land, they are told to move on. So with this situation it is important to note that while in transition from one job to the next the workers require a secure place with the minimal of amenities such as a place to cook, have the use of a Porta potty and access to a garbage receptacle where the site is supervised and kept clean and tidy for all to use throughout the season.
While searching for this “other” job, they then come to the campground and are able to pitch a tent and regroup. While staying at the campground they may use it as a base while searching for other employment.
For these reasons the campground exists and to those in the community and in the farming industry, let us embrace the idea that a “transition campground” is very much needed. We all agree that we need these farm workers for the betterment of the industry, and they in turn need a place to unwind and regroup before venturing out onto the farms and into our community again. This campground alleviates the need to use the community parks as a refuge, they may use it as anyone else to relax and enjoy the green space provided in these parks but do not have the need to camp there any longer.
If there are any questions or suggestions concerning this topic please contact Doe Gregoire, Chair of the Board of Directors for the Similkameen Farmworkers Campground Society. 250-499-2952.