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Black Dirt Sanctuaries

The Black Dirt region in Orange County, New York has some of the most fertile soil in the United States and is known for producing onions and other organic produce for the tri-state area and beyond. From the perspective of the consumer, obscured by the illusion of organic and sustainable practices, these farms are hiding a very important social cost. Most of the labor is provided by migrant workers who are at risk of being exploited. Today 71% of farmworkers in the United States are undocumented. Many do not speak English and are not provided with proficient health, legal, and educational services. We are proposing a new network of sites and paths to provide agency and stability for migrant populations working and living in Black Dirt. Sites are dispersed throughout the farmland in patches, which will improve connectivity between farms but also create a network of bike and pedestrian paths for migrant farmers and local residents. We have designed five cooperative prototypes that combine an indoor farming technique, a secondary production facility, and community programming in partnership with local organizations. The design of each prototype responds to its programming and changes to address site conditions, therefore creating a new relationship between labor, agriculture, and living. These nodes will provide economic empowerment, address community needs, and allow migrants to live in Black Dirt throughout the year.