Devastated by weather and the coronavirus pandemic, Western Slope farmers try to hold on
Guadalupe’s job as an agricultural worker at a Palisade greenhouse is considered essential, which has allowed her to continue working during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the market for the greenhouse produce she harvests in the spring has dropped significantly.
Typically, 75% of the lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula and basil are sold to restaurants in the Grand Valley, Vail, Aspen and Denver. But with many restaurants closed for the past two months — and some just now starting to reopen at reduced capacity — much of that market has disappeared.
As a result, Guadalupe’s hours have been cut in half to roughly 20 hours a week, which is stressful for the 41-year-old undocumented immigrant. (Because of safety concerns due to their immigration status, only first names are used for some of the people interviewed for this story.)
With four children still at home, plus a newborn granddaughter, Guadalupe is currently the family’s main breadwinner. Her husband lost his farmworker job after an April 14 freeze wiped out most of this year’s Palisade peach crop.
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