Thousands of migrant farmworkers flock to Maine every August to harvest blueberries. (A good crop in Maine can yield up to 95 million pounds.) Workers rake through fields of thick low bushes all day then retire at a nearby camp of cabins, tents, and small RVs. Portland (Maine) photographer David Brooks Stess has spent more than 20 years photographing the annual harvest and the migrant field hands who tend the fields. A series of his black and white photographs are now on view at the Portland Museum of Art until May 19.
The exhibition “Blueberry Rakes” is supported by billionaire investment tycoon S. Donald Sussman who is married to Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. In December 2012, Pingree proudly announced that the USDA will buy up to $16m of wild Maine blueberries to help stabilize prices in the wake of a bumper crop. The blueberries will be used for federal food nutrition programs.