A group of about 40 farmworkers have been hard at work for three hours in a Napa vineyard. The sky is hazy from a nearby wildfire, and the air quality clocks at 105— “unhealthy” for people with diabetes, heart, and lung disease. Jocelyn Boreta pulls in front of a barn at Silver Oak vineyard aboard her Botanical Bus filled with 100-plus dried herbs for formulating teas and a 70-herb tincture bar. She starts setting up for the day’s event: the largest bilingual health clinic she’s ever organized.
An hour later, her crew of about 30 masked-up practitioners—including masseuses, acupuncturists, reiki specialists, a foot nurse to help with calluses and ingrown toenails, a somatic therapist, and clinical herbalists—plus volunteers including translators, begin to arrive.
This Herbalist Is Bridging The Healthcare Gap For Latinx Farmworkers In Wine Country. Jocelyn Boreta’s Botanical Bus serves communities across Sonoma County and Napa Valley. A descendant of a Native American and Mexican migrant farmworker (her grandmother picked fruits across the U.S. as a child), Boreta’s mission is to provide care for those whom the traditional healthcare system has failed. “This is my heart’s work,” Boreta says. “I really feel like this is one of the most significant accomplishments of my life.”
It probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that fifty-nine percent of all farmworkers in California reported having no health insurance or cited costs as a deterrent, according to the 2020 COVID-19 Farmworker Study. The report also found distrust in the authorities, government, and the medical system.
“Even before the pandemic, we had a really broken healthcare system,” explains report contributor Sarait Martinez, executive director at a social services organization in Fresno, California. “We know many farmworkers are undocumented and another layer is that many struggle to get access to healthcare in their language.”