Barbara Grasseschi and her husband Tony Crabb are the owners of Puma Springs Vineyards, an organic farm in Healdsburg that grows premium Bordeaux grapes, which they sell to some of Sonoma County’s finest wineries. They have been actively farming for over 23 years on 25 acres in the Dry Creek area. Barbara served on the Healthcare Foundation board from 2016 to 2021, and as Board Chair from 2017 to 2019.
How would you describe the general situation with respect to health and wellbeing for farmworker families in northern Sonoma County?
Challenging. While we are lucky to have FQHCs [Federally Qualified Health Centers] in northern Sonoma County, access and fear are often the largest barriers to obtaining care. In addition, farmworkers rarely have access to paid sick time or other benefits. The work conditions for farmworkers vary widely and the amount of inspections are basically nonexistent. Workers that complain are blacklisted.
What are the biggest challenges or obstacles to accessing healthcare for farmworkers?
Lack of transportation, fear of ICE reporting, lack of paid sick time, lack of employer support, long wait times for appointments (particularly for mental health services), and specialist medical services which are typically centered in Santa Rosa. Not having a stable medical home can also be a barrier.
What, in your opinion, are the solutions and/or some practical steps in the direction of bettering access and improving opportunities for health and wellbeing for farmworkers and their families?
Paid sick time would be a real help. The ability for FQHCs to provide mobile support for basic care needs would be helpful if employers would support.
Is there anything you think the wider community (including nonprofits) of northern Sonoma County should know that might help to move things in the right direction?
Some of the additional resources being invested in growing the ranks of our Community Health Workers is key. For farmworkers and their families, having these trusted bilingual and bicultural resources can help them navigate our complex healthcare system to obtain service. Anything we can do to beef up those resources is really critical.
At the root of many of these issues is the huge power gap between farmworkers and their employers. Anything we can do to uplift farmworkers is really where we can make transformational change.
“[A]dditional resources being invested in growing the ranks of our Community Health Workers is key. For farmworkers and their families, having these trusted bilingual and bicultural resources can help them navigate our complex healthcare system.”Barbara Grasseschi, Puma Springs Vineyard, former Healthcare Foundation board chair
The Healthcare Foundation’s mission is motivated by a vision of eliminating health inequities in northern Sonoma County. In recent months and years, Sonoma County farmworkers and their families have faced increased precarity and the repeated disruption of their lives as a result of forces beyond their control, from the pandemic to the impacts of climate change, with the attendant physical and mental health impacts and challenges this entails. The goal of health equity requires that we address the obstacles and challenges to their health and wellbeing. As part of the Healthcare Foundation’s effort to focus on farmworker health, we are turning to our community partners and other local stakeholders to better understand the need, the obstacles, and most importantly, the practical steps that can be taken to improve health and wellbeing for our region’s agricultural workers. We continue to collect information, engage in dialogue, and work cooperatively toward community-based solutions that can protect and enhance the wellbeing of farmworkers and their families.
- Dra. Daniela Domínguez, Assistant Professor at USF and CEO of On the Margins (2 min read)
- Jocelyn Boreta, Executive Director and Co-founder of The Botanical Bus (2 min read)
- Sue Labbe, Chief Executive Officer of Alliance Medical Center (2 min read)
- Corazón Healdsburg’s Promotora Staff (2 min read)
- Jade Weymouth, Executive Director of La Familia Sana (2 min read)
- Bertha Diaz, Community Health Worker / Promotora and Financial Services Specialist at Alexander Valley Healthcare (1 min read)
- Alma Bowen, Founder and Executive Director of Nuestra Comunidad (1 min read)