Interview with Gaspar, foreign worker at Les Cultures de chez nous 5254 e7946dac-6312-417a-bcc3-c469d95f9afc article Serge Serge Sur le terrain /media/nx0ehxgi/entrevue_avec_gaspar.jpg Découvertes 1/17/2022 2:21:36 p.m. Winter

At Les Cultures de chez nous, some 80 dedicated employees work year-round to bring you delicious leeks and beautiful asparagus, available in any grocery store, or the sublime strawberries, raspberries and blueberries offered during the summer at the Saint-Cyrille-de-Wendover fruit and vegetable stand (which you can also pick yourself). Among the team looking after your fresh fruit and vegetables are several foreign workers who come to Sainte-Brigitte-des-Saults to work on the farm for periods of 6 to 8 months at a time.

Today, I present an interview I conducted with Gaspar Castro Cac, a friendly Guatemalan who has been coming to work at Les Cultures de chez nous since 2015.

1. Where are you from, and what are your origins?

Gaspar: I was born in Guatemala and live in the department of Totonicapán in Guatemala.

2. Why did you decide to work on a Quebec farm?

Gaspar: I wanted a job to earn a good living and help my family. In my country, there aren’t many work opportunities.

3. Why did you come to Sainte-Brigitte-des-Saults to visit Les Cultures de chez nous?

Gaspar: My friend Salvador Morales told me about the opportunity to work here because he was already working here.

Serge: Salvador was one of the first foreign workers to visit Les Cultures de chez nous.

Travailleurs étrangers venant du Guatemala pour travailler sur la ferme de Les Cultures de chez nous

4. How long have you worked at Les Cultures de chez nous?

Gaspar: I’ve been coming here since 2015. In 2022, I’m not returning to leave my place to a friend who needs to work to support his family. However, I will be back the following year and intend to keep returning until I can’t!

5. How do you like living in Quebec?

Gaspar: It’s different from Guatemala. What struck me most at Les Cultures de chez nous, and in Quebec generally, is that people enjoy helping others.

6. What impressed you most when you arrived in Quebec?

Gaspar: Snow really made an impression on me! The first time I saw it was when we were harvesting leeks. I was thrilled to see it, and it motivated me!

7. What do you like best about your daily life on the farm?

Gaspar: What I love most is harvesting, especially asparagus and leeks. I don’t necessarily do the same thing every day. It depends on the season or the stage we’re at. I also particularly enjoy driving tractors in the fields during harvest!

Gaspar, travailleur étranger chez Les Cultures de chez nous sur un tracteur pendant la plantation des poireaux

8. What kind of work do you do when you return to Guatemala?

Gaspar: I have my own clothing boutique there. When I come to work in Quebec, I have two friends who take care of my store until I come back.

9. What’s your fondest memory of coming to Quebec?

Gaspar: My fondest memory is when Les Cultures de chez nous organized a day at Village Vacances Valcartier. I enjoyed the pools and water slides.

Serge: By the way, did you know that Les Cultures de chez nous organizes several activities for workers? Of course, there are the traditional Christmas parties and summer parties, but there are also activities like going to CF Montreal soccer games and trips to the water slides! Did you know that foreign workers also have access to French courses to familiarize them with our language and that Quebec workers have access to Spanish classes to help integrate foreign workers into Les Cultures de chez nous? How fun!

Employés de Les Cultures de chez nous lors d’un match du CF Montréal

10. What are you most looking forward to when you return home?

Gaspar: I always look forward to going home with my family. I came to Quebec for them. At least I get to talk to them daily by phone or video, so we can still see each other.

11. What’s your favourite recipe?

Gaspar: I love a Guatemalan classic: corn tortillas with refried or mashed beans, eggs, salsa and guacamole.

Serge: On my trips to Central America, I’ve often eaten this kind of dish, and it’s so good! I agree with Gaspar’s choice 😊.

Repas guatémaltèque avec des tortillas de maïs accompagnées de haricots frits ou en purée, d’œufs, de salsa et de guacamole

12. What dish did you discover in Quebec that you can’t live without?

Gaspar: A dish that’s typical of you: poutine!

Serge: One of my favourite dishes, too! Good fries with my homemade potato spice blend, cheese curds and gravy, you win me! Add pulled pork leeks, and you’ve got the best homemade poutine.

Recette québécoise de poutine au porc effiloché avec des poireaux

13. How is life in Quebec?

I live in a house in Sainte-Brigitte-des-Saults that belongs to Les Cultures de chez nous. The house is quite large, and I live there with my two brothers, Juan and David, and my friend Salvador, who also work on the farm with me.

Serge: As there are several foreign workers, there are also several houses. There are families and friends in each of them, like Gaspar, his brothers and his friend Salvador. Les Cultures de chez nous has 7 houses where foreign workers live. All the houses have two storeys so that everyone has their own space, and most also have a basement.

What I learned from this interview

Serge Sanchez Sanschagrin

My encounter with Gaspar was genuinely enriching. I was touched and moved by his story. It takes a lot of courage to leave your family for several months of the year to secure a stable job that allows you to earn a good living and provide for your family.

Foreign workers like Gaspar are essential to us. Without their work and support, we probably couldn’t produce as much fruit and vegetables in Quebec because we’d be short of people.

To all foreign workers, whatever your country of origin, whatever Quebec grower you work for, my hat’s off to you! We’re fortunate to be able to count on you, year after year, so that we can have good harvests and enough hands to tend them.

Want to learn more about Gaspar and Les Cultures de chez nous team? There are some great articles on the blog:

  1. How asparagus grows at Les Cultures de chez nous (in French)
  2. How to grow perfect leeks

Of course, you can also read or reread all my articles 😉.
See you soon!