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Leaf by leaf, from dawn to dusk, Yolando “Yo-Yo” Hernandez and four other field workers gather bunches of dino kale, pebbled, so dark they’re almost blue-black.

Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, she’s been here eight years as a year-round worker and is the anchor of the field crew, says Jess Eskelsen of Oxbow Farm. Hernandez is “one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen in my life. She works to make her life better and her family’s life better.” Everyone in the field is dressed for the rain that just stopped and for the muddy furrows between the knee-high rows of plants. They’re working an acre of the 30 planted with mixed vegetables on the farm in the lower Snoqualmie Valley near Carnation. Hundreds of bunches are picked each day; it takes about a minute to gather each. Leaves of almost uniform size, free of blemishes, are tied together. They’re tossed into a blue bin, moved to a field truck that’s driven to the process barn. The all-wheel-drive pickup is so muddy it might never come clean. No need to waste the water trying. Ultimately, the produce ends up in places like PCC Natural Markets in Fremont and Family Grocer in Duvall. While the work is repetitive, it’s not at a computer terminal under fluorescent lights. Field worker Jake Zitnick says, “I get to work outside, work with my food and see all the birds. It’s different every time seeing the life cycles of the plants. It’s dynamic.” He thinks about having his own farm, maybe raise chickens, produce eggs. “Happy chicks make happy eggs.” Everything raised here is organic. Adam McCurdy, Oxbow manager, says “farming is super hard. It’s low-margin, high-perishability.” Eskelsen says, “with organic farming there aren’t the harmful chemicals getting into the Snoqualmie River. It’s better for the water and the salmon who live there.” They’re passionate about what is produced, a zeal in their discussions about these fruits of the earth. Says McCurdy: “We’re supporting a greater good — caring for the land, caring for the waterways, caring for the community in a holistic, ecological way.”