By: Vashti Kelly, Programs Manager
Most individuals don’t think about Christmas tress until around this time of year, but the truth is Christmas trees are a year-round business. Yet, here we are with the holiday season approaching. Most people are preparing to spend extended time with family and enjoy food and fellowship, there is an overlooked portion of the US workforce helping to make our holidays more festive, Christmas tree farm workers.
Christmas tree workers are seasonal and often migrant due to the nature of the crop, however November – December are the months when it becomes physically grueling for workers. And, depending on the demand and whether it was a good crop hard work can quickly transform into hazardous work.
Christmas tree production during the holiday season:
- Shears tops and limb tips from trees, using machete and pruning shears, to control growth, increase limb density, and improve shape.
- Selects trees for cutting according to markings or size, specie, and grade, and fells trees, using ax or chain saw.
- Drags cut trees from cutting area, and loads trees onto trucks.
- Usually farmworkers work 12-14 hours a day in cold weather
Keep in mind; to make a living wage, farmworkers often must work at a pace that is faster than what would be safe resulting in preventable injuries from blades or machinery.
Although, it is a time of reflection and rejoicing let us not forget that there are farm workers toiling while we are warming near fireplaces or overindulging ourselves.
Despite the cold temperatures throughout much of the country farmworkers continue to work, because simply put if they are not working, money is not being made.
Many of migrant farmworkers who have left their families behind and traveled to states like Florida to harvest winter crops, like tomatoes, continue the physically demanding routine of putting food on American’s tables and trying to make ends meet. No shade, oppressive heat and humidity; a far cry from snow and blistering cold, but extreme in its own right – farmworkers endure relentless conditions no matter the time of year or location.
This holiday season while we’re giving thanks and making wishes for all the good we hope for in the new year, let us not forget to remember those who toil in the fields year-round so that we might eat. Often a thankless job that most Americans choose not to do but whom all are beneficiaries. AFOP Health & Safety Programs spends the year making sure farm workers are aware of how to protect themselves from the dangers associated with working in the fields. Today, we would like to say THANK YOU and share the hopes of stronger protections in the new year.