PLANT NURSERY WORKERS
THE DESIGN CHALLENGE
Less than an hour from the glitter of South Beach, tens of thousands of agricultural workers support the vast agribusiness infrastructure of Miami-Dade County. The fastest growing sector of that infrastructure are plant nurseries – raising and marketing horticultural plants – including trees, foliage, potted plants, potted flowering plants, and bedding/garden plants. Because of its unique subtropical climate, Miami-Dade County, and in particular the Southwest region of the county, remains the largest producer of tropical plants of any county in Florida, despite considerable pressures of urban development.
Despite the proximity of these workers and their communities to the Miami metropolis, they and their working conditions at plant nurseries are largely invisible to the general public. In addition to the prevalence of low wages and wage theft throughout the industry, pesticide poisoning and accidents on the job are common and the legal and regulatory systems provide inadequate support to poisoned and injured farm workers. Mistreatment of workers, including sexual harassment of female plant nursery workers, is widespread.
A high percentage of plant nursery workers are still employed by small producers that have been squeezed by brokers and the largest nursery, which has contracts with the mega-retailers. These small producers in turn have squeezed their workers, who often earn minimum wage or below. These indignities and abuses are allowed to persist because workers in Homestead are isolated and many of their working conditions remain unknown to the greater public. As fellow Miamians, we must strive to ensure that all workers are treated with dignity, paid a living wage, and have safe and humane working conditions.
Keep this context in mind as you use the diverse range of talents, perspectives, and disciplines in your JusticeHack team to address this issue.
A seal and certification program to empower consumers with the information they need to buy plants only from nurseries that treat their workers fairly and encourage larger stores carrying the plants to hold supplying nurseries to higher standards.
The Story Behind our Beautiful Gardens
A storytelling platform to create awareness around the realities behind some of the most beautiful gardens in the city. Through humanizing and telling the stories of the plant nursery workers we can motivate allies and partners to take action and change situations around wages, abuse and safety issues. These stories would be accesible to the general public through magazines, physical objects in garden and the website.