Every day in the late summer and fall, a group of Jamaicans wake up, breakfast in their bunkhouse, then make their way out into the fields to pick apples. For some, it’s their first season. But others have been coming to Vermont to pick for much longer.
The Hodges family has been growing apples at Sunrise Orchards since 1974, and during time they’ve hired “The Men” (as the pickers refer to themselves) to help with the monumental task of harvesting 200 acres of apples. The Men are all Jamaican, and each year they travel to Cornwall and make themselves a temporary home in the bunkhouses of Sunrise. They work, eat, sleep, and recreate together. Sometimes they take trips on the company bus to Middlebury to buy groceries, or to Rutland and Burlington to buy gifts for loved ones back home. At the end of each season they slaughter goats to make chops and stew for their season-ending feast.
"God spare a life, I will be back.” — 42-year harvest veteran Alton Brice