Much of the work on Vermont dairy farms is done by people from Latin America. Over a thousand migrant laborers from Mexico and other countries milk cows, fix tractors, shovel manure, and take care of calves in our state.
“The Most Costly Journey” (VT Reads Book 2022), tells the stories of 19 of these workers in their own words. Illustrated by New England cartoonists in a variety of styles, each short chapter describes aspects of life as an immigrant farm worker in Vermont: crossing the southern border, struggling with English, adapting to winter, growing gardens, raising children, dealing with health crises, and working long hours. – Sponsored by The Vermont Humanities Council
Our discussion will be held both in-person, at the library, and virtually on Zoom – just follow this link @ 4:30 on Jan 27th – http://bit.ly/BMLBookDiscussion
The password is “Blake”
The Book’s Origins:
The Most Costly Journey had its genesis at The Open Door Clinic in Middlebury, a free health clinic that serves people who do not have health insurance, and those who are underinsured. About half of the clinic’s patients are agricultural immigrant workers.
Many of these workers stay close to the farms where they work out of fear of being deported, lack of transportation, or other reasons. The problems caused by this isolation led nurse Julia Doucet to imagine a series of Spanish-language pamphlets that would help farm workers share their stories with each other. She chose cartooning as the medium for the pamphlets, as comics are common in Latin America and can be enjoyed by people of all ages and literacy levels.
To make the comics, Julia, other clinic staff and volunteers, and faculty and staff from the UVM Department of Anthropology and UVM Extension’s Bridges to Health Program collected stories from migrant workers. The Vermont Folklife Center helped develop the project’s collaborative methods and connect cartoonists—including Tillie Walden, Glynnis Fawkes, and Marek Bennett—to the workers’ stories to create the pamphlets.
Grants from the UVM Humanities Center and the Vermont Community Foundation funded a series of English translations of the pamphlets. A Kickstarter campaign helped raise the capital needed to print the English-language The Most Costly Journey, which includes a foreword by Vermont novelist Julia Alvarez.