Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A portrait of one young farmer in drought-stricken California

Liset Garcia posts an Instagram video announcing night hours at her farm stand. (LAT photo by Brian van der Brug)

In 2015, Diana Marcum won the Pulitzer Prize for narrative portraits of farm workers, farmers and others in California’s drought-stricken Central Valley. Here's her latest for The Los Angeles Times about how a young farmer outside of Fresno is coping with the drought.

Liset Garcia, 29, owns Sweet Girl Farms in Reedley, Calif., and things are tough right now. The house well went dry over a month ago, and drillers said there's a five-month wait to dig a new one—with no guarantee of success. "Her parents, who grew up in Oaxaca, told her the family would survive just fine without running water," Marcum reports. "At her parents’ farm, her father and brother pumped water from an agricultural well and hauled it down the street to fill a tank for household needs and Garcia’s small flower and vegetable farm."

Garcia, who grew up in L.A. and has a master's in public health, never expected to be a farmer, but after an accident a few years ago, she came home and took over her parents' farm stand, selling local flowers, fruits, vegetables and honey, Marcum reports. She keeps customers coming with a big smile, conveniently cooler night hours, and frequent updates on social media. Though the drought is worrisome and the hours are long, Garcia told Marcum that she finds peace in her work: "I sleep good at night. Every day I put my whole heart and soul into this and I leave it all here and then I can sleep."

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