PRESS RELEASE. From the San Mateo County Farmworker Affairs Coalition (FAC) meeting Friday, January 8th, 2021 held via Zoom.
FAC members reported that *Castillo Seed Company [*update 1/22/2021: Link no longer works; Website has been scraped] who rents space in the former Bay City Flower Nursery from Oso Vega.
1/27/2020. “We are very excited about the wonderful opportunity in Half Moon Bay,” said Jeff McPhee, Founder of Oso Vega. “Through our partnership with Castillo Seed, we were able to hire back many of the highly-skilled and experienced workforce from Bay City Flower Company. As a company founded by multi-generational farmers, we know the important role agriculture plays in California and Half Moon Bay. We are committed to working with the local community and continuing our work as an agricultural company for generations to come.”
**Oso Vega [**update 1/22/2021: Link no longer works; Website has been scraped], an agricultural services company focused on hemp, are now over two pay periods behind in paying their agricultural workers.
[update 1/25/2021: Oso Vega Inc: Elevating Agricultural Communities Brittany Ferguson, VP of quality control and corporate values]
She left Osa Vega in July 2020 and moved to Food Truth Solutions.
ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE. The FAC first heard that Castillo Seed Company was not paying their workers on time in September 2020, when Castillo provided the attached letter in lieu of timely payment for work done.
In December 2020 Castillo Seed Company issued a new letter citing financial hardships preventing them from paying their employees two more consecutive periods.
Additionally, FAC has heard about sexual harassment of female employees by fellow male employees.
Castillo Farms employees, including many longtime coastsiders who formerly worked at Bay City Nursery, have been forced to rely on local community service organizations to cover rent and other critical living expenses during a continued global pandemic and economic recession.
Victoria Sanchez De Alba, a founding member of the FAC, says, “This situation affects the workers and their families, putting a strain on not being able to have food on their tables, and the fear that they could be evicted from their homes and become homeless. Farmworkers are certainly disproportionately impacted by COVID and continued social injustice.”
Hemp is the non-psychoactive version of the Cannabis sativa plant, which contains less than 0.3% THC. The federal 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from Schedule I controlled substances and classified hemp as an ordinary agricultural product. In California, hemp operations must register with their county agricultural commissioner and pay a $900 registration fee.
About the Farmworker Affairs Coalition
Formed in response to the global Covid-19 pandemic, the San Mateo County Farmworker Affairs Coalition (FAC) is dedicated to supporting and advocating for our local farmworker community. The coalition is made up of concerned citizens and community service organizations who interface with both county and city representatives to help address urgent needs, coordinate services, and access resources to support farmworkers and their families, as well as the entire agricultural community.
Contact FAC Representative:
Victoria Sanchez De Alba @ email@example.com
About Castillo Seed LLC & Oso Vega Inc.
Castillo Seed LLC is registered in Puerto Rico, with Matt Schwaigert listed as CEO.
Castillo Seed Company is operating in the old Bay City Flower Nursery, opposite the Cloud 9 Spa, at 2265 Cabrillo Hwy (Hwy 1), in Half Moon Bay.
Oso Vega Inc. is registered in Texas, with Marc Ferguson listed as CEO and Jeff McPhee listed as Founder.
In an April 2020 press release, McPhee claimed to be ‘committed to working with the local community.’
Oso Vega is also partnered with the University of California at Davis to complete a multi-year research agreement to develop hemp cultivars.
2265 Cabrillo Highway South
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 (Unincorporated Half Moon Bay)
Working Hours: 8AM-4PM PST
Coastal local, Kate Shea, mentioned something about a hemp company on the Coastside that was not paying its 40 employees in December. Thanks goodness she reminded me again in January 2021.
I referred our question to the Farmworkers Advisory Committee (FAC), who filed labor violation with the State of California Labor board, January 18th, 2021.
The Castillo Seed Company was closed by the State January 28th, 2021.