April 28, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Bill Norton
the housing agreement are (from left) Herbert Rouse, Harvey Farms; Bill
Bryan, Mt. Olive Pickle Co.; the Rev. Charles M. Smith, North Carolina
Annual Conference, and John Burness, Duke University.
By Bill Norton and Lynn Williams*
OLIVE, N.C. (UMNS)—Private business, higher education and the United
Methodist Church are partnering to build a model house designed to
promote the need for quality housing for migrant farm workers.
from Mt. Olive Pickle Co., Harvey Farms of Kinston, N.C., Duke
University and the North Carolina Annual (regional) Conference of the
United Methodist Church signed the agreement April 22 in a brief
ceremony at First United Methodist Church in Mount Olive.
2,800-square-foot house, designed to house up to 17 workers, will be
built on land owned by Harvey Farms, just off U.S. 70 near Kinston.
Construction is expected to start late this summer, with completion
before spring 2006.
Olive, United Methodist related-Duke and the Duke Endowment, on behalf
of the North Carolina Conference, contributed $130,000 toward the
estimated $270,000 construction cost. Olive also funded design work by
Partin-Hobbs & Associates of Goldsboro.
issue of good housing for migrant farm workers is a long-standing one
with the United Methodist Church and other members of the North Carolina
Council of Churches,” said the Rev. Charles M. Smith, the conference’s
director of connectional ministries and a Duke trustee. “Our dream is
that this house will serve as a model for the rest of the state and
possibly the nation, and we hope that many imitations of this housing
for migrant farm workers will be built throughout the country.”
project’s goal is to generate awareness about the housing need. The
agreement stipulates that Harvey Farms must maintain the house and make
it available for others in the state to visit.
hope to stimulate conversation in the agricultural community about what
quality migrant housing can look like,” said Bill Bryan, president of
Mt. Olive Pickle Co. “We want growers to visit the house and take away
sound ideas that they can incorporate into their own migrant housing.”
news of the project comes seven months after the end of a national
boycott against Mt. Olive. The United Methodist Church joined the
boycott in spring 2004 to support the Farm Labor Organizing Committee’s
efforts to improve working conditions for farm workers in North
Carolina. The boycott ended with the signing of two agreements Sept.
16—one a collective bargaining agreement between the Ohio-based Farm
Labor Organizing Committee and the North Carolina Growers Association,
covering 8,000 farm workers, and the other a settlement between Mt.
Olive and the union.
|A UMNS photo by Bill Norton
The model home plan for North Carolina migrant farm workers is designed for simple replication.
In June, the North
Carolina Conference will vote on a resolution commending Bryan and Mt.
Olive for their work in resolving the boycott. The resolution commends
Mt. Olive and Bryan for “patient and persistent efforts in the face of
public attack to find a fair and constructive solution to farm workers
issues raised by FLOC, including its eventual willingness to participate
in the historic labor agreement.”
The conference will vote on the resolution during its annual meeting, June 8- 11.
agreement for the migrant housing model culminates almost three years
of work that began in 2002, when Duke and Mt. Olive formed a partnership
to discuss issues confronting migrant farm workers in North Carolina.
The conference joined the effort in 2003.
we were talking with Mt. Olive a couple of years ago, one of the
priorities we all recognized was the need for adequate, decent housing,”
said John Burness, Duke’s senior vice president for government affairs
and public relations. “The N.C. Conference, Duke and Mt. Olive all
resolved to make something important happen.”
house is designed for simple replication. Other criteria are to meet or
exceed the state’s migrant housing standards and to address the needs
of farm workers. The design is based on an eight-foot grid to conform to
standard building materials and minimize waste.
migrant housing project “brings our farming operation up to a new
standard,” said Herbert Rouse, executive vice president of agronomics
for Harvey Farms. “We haven’t had much need for migrant housing in the
past, but we’re bringing that part of our farming operation up to a
higher level. We appreciate having people learn from what we are trying
The house will feature:
- Four bedrooms housing up to four workers each, and one one-person room;
commons area with a higher ceiling, operable exterior and interior
windows, and an 8-foot-wide corridor designed to improve natural
- Durable, common materials, such as concrete floors, block walls and a metal roof;
- Covered porches created by the roof’s overhang;
- Bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities that meet or exceed state migrant housing standards;
- Outside access to bathrooms and laundry areas; and
- Basic telephone service.
design has been reviewed and endorsed by the Housing Development Corp.,
a consortium of farm worker advocate organizations working to address
housing issues for farm workers in North Carolina.
is director of communications for the United Methodist Church’s North
Carolina Annual Conference. Williams is community relations director for
Mt. Olive Pickle Co.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.