From field to film: South Jersey man shares farmworkers’ stories and his own
A man from South Jersey is making sure farmworkers' stories are being told.
New Jersey’s farmworkers are there every morning before the sun comes up and work until after the sun goes down. For a long time, their stories have been left untold – until now.
“Stories like this aren’t – are never told around this area and I’ve always wondered why aren’t they? Now I have the opportunity to tell those stories,” says Edgar Aquino Huerta.
Huerta is a screenwriter who also is a farmer.
“I went to Rowan University here in Glassboro, New Jersey. And I studied film,” he says.
But he says that the road that got him there wasn’t easy.
“I was born in Puebla, Mexico. We came over when I was 2 years old,” Huerta says.
When he was 13 years old, his mother became sick.
“Since we were obviously undocumented, she didn’t have health insurance,” he says.
Huerta’s mother went back to Mexico, and the bills kept piling up.
“That summer, my dad – he didn’t let me have an option of playing soccer for the high school. He couldn’t keep up with sending money to my mom. So, he sent me to work in the fields,” Huerta says.
When he was not in school, Huerta spent the rest of his time in the farm fields and the greenhouse.
“I was very embarrassed. I would live a double life. I always tell people it's like 'Hannah Montana.' I was a farmer during the summers and the student during the school,” he says. “But when I want to go back to school in September, I would always have had my hands in my pockets because they were just so ugly and mistreated, they had scratches.”
He says that over time working in the fields started to feel like home. And he says that his fellow workers are like his family.
And now they will become the subject of his stories for his film, “Made in America.”
“We’re from other places, but we’re made here,” he says. “It’s my story, but it’s also like, a love letter to farmworkers.”
Huerta says the story of the film is based on his life.
“So basically, like the goal of the protagonist is to have his mom to see him graduate… but the ending is for him to reunite with his mom,” he says.
Huerta says that his other goal is to open an art and film school in New Jersey. He also works with CATA, a nonprofit that helps farm workers.