El Jardinero by Los Originales de San Juan
The Wall Street Journal had an article on how paisa gardeners in Los Angeles don’t seem to be suffering as much their compatriots in construction and other blue-collar jobs. Despite La Crisis some of them seem to be doing remarkably well.
“Gardening isn’t like working at a factory, where you depend on one employer,” says Manuel Quezada, a 54-year-old veteran gardener, as he and his team put down sod in the front yard of a house here. “If I lose one house, it doesn’t hurt that much.”
For immigrants, gardening has long been a stepping stone to prosperity. Japanese immigrants with a background in agriculture pioneered residential gardening in California in the early 20th century. The physical labor didn’t require education or fluent English but it lifted them into the middle class. In the mid-1960s, Mexican peasants began flocking to the U.S. Southwest in large numbers. By the 1980s, they had come to dominate the residential gardening niche, Mr. Ramirez says, and some have thrived financially.
I can see how this industry would continue to do well. Some neighborhoods are required to have a certain amount of landscape maintenance and most of these folks that live in these areas are not going to do it themselves. However, if water rationing is implemented (California is currently in emergency drought conditions), I wonder how long it will be before gardeners start feeling the pinch.
On a related note, I’ve been hearing anecdotal tales about immigrants moving back home or at least away from Los Angeles. Anyone have friends or family affected by La Crisis that have decided to move on?