farmworker of the year

Jun 13, 2024
Unsung heroes of agriculture honored

A farmworkers organization has recognized farmworkers who do honorable things in their work.

Maria de Sagrario Iglesias of FirstFruits Farms has been named the winner of the first Grow the Good Farmworker of the Year Award.

The inaugural program recognizes the invaluable contributions of farmworkers in the fresh produce industry. Equitable Food Initiative (EFI), known for its dedication to fair labor practices and improving conditions for farmworkers, championed the award, according to a news release.

Maria de Sagrario Iglesias

Selected from a pool of more than 40 nominations, de Sagrario Iglesias was selected as one of five finalists whose nomination highlighted the nominees’ consistent diligence, motivation, influence, eagerness to share knowledge, willingness to learn, positive attitude, resilience and dedication to supporting others’ growth – both inside and outside of their companies. These attributes reflect the remarkable passion and commitment of the farmworkers whose hard work sustains the industry and creates a starting place for all of us to go forward, according to the release.

“Despite being the backbone of our food systems, the efforts and accomplishments of farmworkers often go unnoticed,” EFI said in the release. “While the industry frequently honors marketers, retailers, growers and top producers, the millions of farmworkers behind the scenes have not received the recognition they deserve – until now.”

EFI advocated for the initiative to highlight and celebrate the essential workers.

“We cannot overstate the significance of farmworkers to our food system,” LeAnne Ruzzamenti, EFI’s director of marketing communications, said in the release. “Their dedication and hard work are the foundation upon which the entire agriculture industry stands. This award is a step toward giving them the recognition and appreciation for the essential role they play.”

The winner dedicated her 35 years in agriculture to working with FirstFruits Farms. Throughout her career, de Sagrario Iglesias has worked in various roles, from planting and nursery to picking, pruning and packing. Maria’s extensive experience has provided her with the opportunity to train many of her coworkers, who report that she is known for her willingness to lead and share insights.

EFI Farmworker Awareness Week logo


Those who nominated her noted that her commitment to others extends beyond her professional duties as she frequently volunteers her time to fundraise for coworkers and community members in need. In addition to organizing support for her community in the U.S., de Sagrario Iglesias has also coordinated clothing drives for an orphanage in her hometown in Mexico, and personally delivers these donations on her visits. Maria’s nomination highlighted her kindness, thoughtfulness and natural servant leadership along with her dedication to her work and her commitment to leading by example.

The other finalists are Andres Aguilar of Stemilt Growers, Crisanta Morales of Wholesum Family Farms, Eduardo Avina of Misionero, and José Luis Segura of Mastronardi Produce.

Read more about the Grow the Good Farmworker of the Year Award and about the finalists and winner here.


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