Despite having been up since before sunrise to get himself and his crew ready, and working a full day in the orchard, Armando graciously allowed me to visit with him in his home away from home here at Pearson Farm. He introduced me to his companeros and gave me a tour. I was touched by their graciousness and hospitality…..
Armando made his way to Pearson Farm in the late 90's. He was working on a tobacco farm in North Carolina where he met some workers who told him about Pearson Farm. It was around this same time, we had applied and been granted our first certification to participate in the H2A guest worker program. Israel received word of his interest to work and asked Armando if he would go back to Mexico and recruit young men who would be willing to leave their families for an opportunity to better themselves and come to the United States to work at Pearson Farm for peach season. Armando was nervous but agreed. When he arrived home, he began talking with his family, friends, and neighbors about this opportunity and guess what happened?? No one believed him...... all they could say was "this is too good to be true!" Eventually, Israel had to make a trip to Armando's home town to assure the community that Armando had not gone crazy. They signed up several men for the next peach season on the spot.
Over the next few years, Armando worked his way up from Picker (player) to Crew Leader (team captain) but in 2002 things at home changed drastically for Armando. He and his wife had 3 small children (ages 6, 4, and 1) and were now expecting twins. Surprisingly when the babies arrived, there were 3 bundles of joy instead of 2. They went from a family of 5 to a family of 8 within a matter of minutes. Armando returned to Pearson Farm to work peach season but understandably his wife desperately needed him back at home to help with their 6 children. Even though he was able to make more money for his family here at Pearson Farm, he knew that being with them every day was more important, so Armando went home and stayed for 9 years.
In 2015, his children now much older, Armando returned to Pearson Farm for peach season. Even though he had been a captain when he left, he returned as a player. Everyone knew that for Armando to lead a crew again, he would need to gain the teams respect and prove that he could work as hard and as fast as his team mates. It was a rough year but worth it.
Armando is back again this season, 18 years after he first stepped onto the red dirt of Pearson Farm. He is a Crew Leader (captain) again and says that leading people is the best part of his job. In fact, he has led most of our H2A workers to Pearson Farm. We believe that leading by example is very important. Thank you Armando for being such an excellent example of what a true leader is all about!