|Published:||Jul 14, 2012 1:51 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jul 15, 2012 6:30 AM EDT|
SALINAS, Calif. (AP) - Alejandro Ramirez was 15 when he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to work alongside his father and brother in California's strawberry fields.
He spent 12 years toiling for a large grower, living with his wife and child in a garage, learning everything from pulling weeds to planting to driving a tractor. Now, Ramirez is a U.S. citizen who employs about 80 workers - all of them fellow Latinos - and grows his own strawberries on more than 100 acres in Salinas, one of California's key berry growing regions.
Strawberries have given Latinos more ownership opportunities than any other major crop. Latinos now comprise two-thirds of strawberry growers in California, where 90 percent of the nation's strawberries are grown. Most growers of other major crops are white.