“For better or for worse, we are always there.”
Farmers like Alberto Rebollo in Spain have been working non-stop through the COVID-19 health crisis, relying increasingly on their telephones to keep in touch with other farmers and markets, and joining forces to go the extra mile for their communities.
The organic farmer from Laguna de Negrillos (León), 34, grew up surrounded by corn fields and his childhood past has become his present and future. There have been times when Alberto has felt that his constant work with the earth, to provide food for communities, has not always been noticed. But now, in times of crisis, the spotlight has been turned on farmers like Alberto and his brother Alejandro.
“We continue working the same way, the only difference you can see is in the supply of (machinery) parts,” Alberto says. “If you have a breakdown, the workshops are slower, but the rest of the work is the same.” That is, non-stop, though with fewer opportunities to see other young farmers like himself.
Following the onset of COVID-19, Alberto and other farmers began working even more, volunteering their time in the community on Sundays—normally a day of rest.
Local farmers decided to take advantage of the fact that everything was closed in the town to disinfect the streets of the town and other possible public sources of contagion.
“We came up with the idea of our own initiative and the government gave us the guidelines,” says Alberto, who also happens to be on the City Council in the town of Laguna de Negrillos (León).
With just one message to other local farmers, Alberto had gathered a team of volunteers. He told them, “If we can collaborate and save or protect our elders from a possible infection, then let’s go ahead.” Everyone volunteered, using their tractors when they could, and doing the rest on foot.
Food hero Alberto has found that his family vocation as a farmer has been of support to his community in more ways than one.