After years of planning, shovels went in the ground this month on a four-acre parcel in Salinas, California, known as the Boronda neighborhood, for the second farmworker housing complex in the region.
Avila Construction of Monterey, California, hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to honor the Hibino, Nunes and Rodriguez families for “recognizing the need for beautiful, safe, and affordable housing for their company’s farm labor force.” The Hibino family are farmers, the Nunes family are grower-shippers and the Rodriguez family are labor contractors.
Casa Boronda, when completed, will be available for seasonal agricultural employees. The gated community will include six, two-story apartment buildings (75 units total) with up to eight residents and two full bathrooms per unit on a site that also includes two recreation rooms, a manager’s unit, laundry facilities, a basketball and volleyball court, and a sports and recreation field. This project received overwhelming support from city and county leaders, as well as affordable housing advocates in the region, say the companies.
The three families involved in this project say they shared a vision to do something innovative for their labor force that would not only help them recruit and retain employees, while providing an affordable and safe housing environment, but would also serve as a model for social responsibility in the agriculture industry.
“This is a win-win situation for our employees, our company and our customers,” said Tom Nunes Jr. “It is not only the right time for such a large undertaking, it is simply the right thing to do.”
“We are blessed to be in this business, and doubly blessed to be able to provide beautiful housing for our employees,” said Mark Rodriguez, the spokesperson for the Rodriguez family and The Growers Co. “This project speaks to our three families’ commitment to the well-being of each and every employee who works for our companies.”
Henry Hibino, partner in the project, grower and former mayor of Salinas, said, “Three very diverse families from very different backgrounds, coming together to accomplish a project like this is indeed rare in the agriculture industry. While we come from different cultures, we share the same core values of dignity and rewarding hard work.”
The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by April 2018, with the first occupants moving in around May 1.
The Nunes Co., owner of the Foxy and Foxy Organic brand names, has been part of the fresh produce industry for generations, with the fourth generation now managing the family’s farming operation. The company farms more than 22,000 crop acres in California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.