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‘Fruits of Labor’ Provides an Intimate Look at the Life of a Teenage Farmworker

The director of the new POV documentary talks about the young woman at its center, the family structures that make it challenging for Latinas to follow their dreams, and what she hopes might be a turning point for farmworkers’ rights.

Emily Cohen Ibañez’ Fruits of Labor is an unusual entry in the genre of documentary work about farm laborers and the food system. The hour-long feature POV documentary, which airs on PBS and streams on the PBS website starting tonight, is focused on the daily life of Ashley Pavon (credited as a cowriter for her work on the film’s voiceovers), a teenage farmworker in Watsonville, California. And while a critical analysis of the food system is wound indirectly through every frame, the film focuses on Pavon and her experiences, narrowing the lens from some 830,000 farmworkers in the state to just one pair of hands that picks and packs strawberries in the smoky fields and chilly early mornings.