Stories From the Field
During my time here at WCAHS, I have had the opportunity to travel to many parts of California and share what I have learned about agricultural health and safety with farmworkers. Recently, I accompanied Teresa Andrews, WCAHS’ Education and Outreach Specialist, on a tailgate training she conducted at Del Bosque Farms, Inc., in Firebaugh, CA.
A beautiful row of sunflowers at the entrance led us to the front office, where we met Joe Del Bosque and his wife, Maria Del Bosque. Mrs. Del Bosque had attended one of our trainings in the past and was excited to have us visit their farm and speak to their workers about heat illness prevention. Del Bosque Farms is a family owned organic farm that grows melons, almonds, asparagus, and cherries on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.
Educating their workers on safety
As part of the safety culture of the farm, we stopped to wash our hands before meeting the crew we were going to train. Once there, we had the opportunity to present to a friendly and outgoing crew. They did not hesitate to participate and answer questions when we quizzed them.
It is always such a rewarding experience to be able to bring information to such a humble group of people regardless of how much they already know. It was evident that although the crew was very informed, they were still grateful for the refresher and some even agreed to participate in a focus group to help us improve our materials and training methods.
A family business with multiple generations
The Del Bosque family takes a great deal of pride in their work and farm – it is not only a family business, but also a tradition that reinforces their tight family bond.
Their daughter, a UC Davis graduate, has joined the family business and manages many aspects of food safety. Their two grandsons also visit often and spend summers helping out their grandfather and learning how to work the land.
Ms. Del Bosque did not miss the opportunity to tell us about her youngest grandson and how quickly he is learning about farming at the young age of three.
It was evident that her grandson’s interest in agriculture made her very proud, and when asked about what she thought about him potentially running the farm one day she said, "I think he would because Logan is a very hard working kid, and he does everything with a lot of joy. The farm is a favorite place of his. He really enjoys his visits to the farm with grandma."
Promoting good farm practices
I enjoyed seeing the way that the Del Bosque farm operated and how their strong family values were reflected in their business. As a member of a health and safety research center, I could not help but notice how they were able to foster a culture of safety on their farm.
When asked how she promotes the importance of health and safety to her workers, Mrs. Del Bosque said, "We have a very intensive food safety program. We train our workers and every day we put into practice our policies on different topics, such as worker safety and accident prevention in the workplace."
Teaching the next generation
I was curious to know how the family passes down such good farm practices to the younger generation. I asked how she talked to her grandkids about health and safety and is able to get them to understand its importance.
"I talk to them like I do my employees about wearing adequate clothing to protect themselves from the heat and from pesticides. As you can see, Logan is dressed the same way we dress for work. We lead by example." - Maria Del Bosque
We greatly enjoyed the opportunity to present to the workers of Del Bosque Farms, and we look forward to continue working with them. Thank you to Joe and Maria Del Bosque for graciously welcoming us onto their farm.