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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Monday, November 28, 2022
Winemakers donating sales of tasting pass to Farmworkers Hub
Seasonal agricultural workers at the Farmworkers Hub. This season, the hub helped more than 3,000 workers. Supplied

Sipping wine never tasted so good.

For the month of November, all of the proceeds from the $35 Winemakers’ Selections Tasting Pass will be donated to the Farmworkers Hub.

“We’re thrilled for their support. And I know the funds that they raise will make a big difference for next year,” said Julia Buxton-Cox, founder of the Farmworkers Hub. 

Buxton-Cox started the Farmworkers Hub in 2021 to support seasonal agricultural workers in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The workers are here for about eight to 10 months each year and the hub provides them with essential items at no extra cost.

“Workers come in and they’re allowed to pick three items of clothing and three items of household goods and the toiletries don’t count towards those items,” said Buxton-Cox. 

The wine-tasting pass costs $35 and allows wine lovers to enjoy one tasting of a winemaker’s selection from each of 16 participating wineries. 

“I don’t think there’s anyone else in the community that could do it quite like her (Julia). She’s so positive and she’s so passionate,” said Andrew Niven, the marketing chair for the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which has organized the  tasting pass program.

The hub is run by about 38 volunteers. This season, it helped more than 3,000 seasonal workers. 

Niven wants to help out in any way that he can and after talking to Buxton-Cox he learned that, though the hub had many successes this year, financial stability remains a big concern.

So he came up with a new way to help the hub. With two months left for the Winemakers’ Selection Tasting Pass, he thought it would be a good idea to give the November proceeds to the hub. 

When Niven brought the idea to the board, it was approved unanimously.

All of the money will go to the hub’s operating costs in 2023. Anything more will go toward food for farmworkers, said Buxton-Cox.

Workers earn minimum wage and are often supporting their families back at home. The workers don’t eat a lot so that they have more money to send back to their families, said Buxton-Cox.

“Like any family here in Canada, poverty at that minimum wage for a whole family is a real issue,” she said. 

Since farmworkers aren’t citizens, they aren’t able to go to a foodbank, she said. 

This year the hub was able to provide some food to farmworkers thanks to a grant received through Kairos Canada, a group that advocates for human rights and ecological justice. 

“I think it was about seven weeks in total. And at the end, we were going through $1,000 worth of food a week,” she said. 

Even then, workers were limited to three food items each. 

“And so for us to be able to provide just some basic food items was a real blessing this year, so we’d like to continue that next year,” she said.

The passes can be bought online at the winemaker group’s website, wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com.

Though the Farmworkers Hub is now closed for the season, Buxton-Cox is still accepting donations for next year. 

“We really need jeans and work pants, so anybody can contact me anytime,” she said.

She can be reached at thehubnotl@bell.net or at 905-483-9717.

“Our job is just friends helping friends, neighbours helping neighbours. And making them feel (like) a part of the community while they’re here,” she said.