Op/Ed

Editorial: New Haven’s promising path to embracing migrant workers

ANGELO LYNN

For the past several months the town of New Haven has embraced a program to connect with migrant farm workers in its community. It’s a model other Addison County communities might want to consider.

As reporter Marin Howell reports: “The town’s efforts to better understand area migrant farm workers and their experiences started this past summer when the Vermont Humanities Council named ‘The Most Costly Journey’ the Vermont Reads Book of the Year. The graphic novel is a collection of stories of Vermont’s Latin American migrant farm workers depicted by New England graphic artists. The book chronicles the hardships migrant and immigrant farm workers face throughout their journeys to Vermont, and the… challenges they face once they arrive.”

Residents were encouraged to read the book and engage in a series of events and conversations staged by community leaders.

“It was just automatic, all of us just jumped at the opportunity because it’s been something that we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said New Haven resident Kim Callahan, according to Howell’s report. “In the New Haven farming community, we’ve had a fairly large number of migrant workers here for many years and this felt like the first time in maybe forever that we could really celebrate their contributions in a public way.” 

“The other piece was using the book to educate our community about a part of the population that a lot of people don’t know and don’t understand,” Callahan said, a comment that could pertain to almost all towns in Addison County.

A 2021 University of Vermont study found the state’s dairy economy was sustained by about 1,500 migrant farm workers, a good many of whom are based in Addison County. Getting to know them better and bringing them more into our communities will make us all stronger — and happier.

As community-wide resolutions for the New Year, Addison County towns would be well served to follow New Haven’s path to better understanding the migrant farm community and embrace them as neighbors and fellow residents.

Angelo Lynn

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