Salt of the Earth (2008) was produced in collaboration with migrant farm workers in Southern Ontario and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Ontario farmers contract approximately 16,000 migrant workers each year*. They come from Mexico and the Caribbean in roughly equal numbers and work in fields, orchards and greenhouses for between six and eight months. They have few protections and can be repatriated at their employer’s whim with little legal recourse.
The series of four black and white images, referencing the traditions of documentary photography, depict the arrival of migrant farm workers, their exposure to harmful chemicals, exhaustion and injury during harvest and, finally, their departure. The four images are book-ended by a title image of migrant trailer homes and a closing image of a farmers market. A character representing ‘Mother Earth’ is inserted into each image symbolizing the exploitation of the earth itself, paralleling the plight of the farm workers.
* Note: Migrant farm workers are brought in across Canada. Quebec and B.C. being the next largest employers of migrant labour.