People, Place and Health: A Sociospatial Perspective of Agricultural Workers and their Environment
This project employs a mixed‐method, place‐based approach to study agricultural worker health issues related to pesticide use in rural California. Sociospatial analysis considers space, place and social indicators in a holistic and integrated fashion (Steinberg and Steinberg 2008). This project utilizes Geographic Information System (GIS) to effectively integrate environmental and social data related to farmworker health and pesticide use. GIS is a computerized system of mapping. The value of a sociospatial approach is that it allows for the spatial portrayal of social and environmental data in a holistic fashion. In this case, our sociospatial approach highlights the interplay between people and place. We focus on environmental and social issues for farmworkers in the three communities in both Monterey and Tulare counties. Using this visual approach for communication and portrayal of data proves to be effective across both language and literacy barriers. To conduct this study, the California Center for Rural Policy and the Institute for Spatial Analysis, located at Humboldt State University, worked in partnership with the Agricultural Worker Health Initiative (AWHI) funded by the California Endowment, including Poder Popular ‐ a community‐based group to empower farmworker communities throughout the state of California. We wish to thank the California Endowment for support of this project. We would especially like to thank Mario Gutierrez, M.P.H., Director, Rural and Agricultural Worker Health Program for his vision in supporting this work. This report contains sociospatial data, consisting of both maps and interview data integrated to tell the stories of farmworkers, their communities and pesticide drift. The project also incorporated extensive environmental mapping of pesticide use and application rates within the study region with associated qualitative data relating to farmworker health. The complete map set along with details regarding spatial analysis methods and data are detailed in a separate document, People, Place and Health: A Pesticide Atlas of Monterey County and Tulare County, California. Methods used include key‐informant interviews, ethnographic methods, public participation GIS, attending community meetings, and environmental mapping. We highlight how a community based participatory research approach is a means to understand community members’ interests and knowledge about pesticides. Particular emphasis is placed on the amount and types of pesticides and fumigants used near schools, neighborhoods and community gathering places. The report concludes with a summary of our findings and policy recommendations.