Baby oysters grown at Moss Landing Marine Labs.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)
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Morning Lookout: More focus on farmworkers; Elkhorn’s mollusk moment

Good morning, friends and neighbors! It’s Tuesday, Nov. 29, and the forecast calls for another mostly sunny day around Santa Cruz County, with highs in the 50s.

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Conditions for farmworkers in Santa Cruz County are abhorrent, Ann López writes in our Community Voices opinion section, and the executive director of the Center for Farmworker Families says she’s frustrated that news of sexual assault and the toll of pesticides on workers and their families aren’t garnering more local attention.

Just south of the county line, meanwhile, restoring oysters to Elkhorn Slough is the focus for a team of researchers from the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Once thought locally extinct, oysters are crucial to a healthy habitat, Kate Hull reports — and researchers are hoping they can get commercial aquaculture interests on board.

We’re also still seeking nominations for our upcoming Unsung Santa Cruz series, so if you know someone who is working every day at a vital but overlooked job or undertaking with little to no appreciation, read on for how you can get them recognized. You can also revisit our 2021 series right here.

Tuesday’s headlines also include the latest local COVID numbers, so let’s head there now.

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Our farmworkers are being sexually assaulted and poisoned on the job. Why aren’t we helping them?

Workers in the fields in Watsonville
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Thousands of female farmworkers are regularly being assaulted, groped and raped in Santa Cruz County fields, without consequence, argues Ann Aurelia López, executive director of the Center for Farmworker Families. The women regularly call López for help, but fear job loss, deportation and shame if they make formal complaints, she says. Farmworker families also are regularly exposed to toxic pesticides that poison them and cause cancer and birth defects in their children. López is frustrated that their dire plight rarely makes headlines in Santa Cruz County. She wants that to change. Read her full Community Voices opinion piece.

RELATED: Pressure mounts on pesticides near schools — especially those on Pajaro Valley outskirts (Lookout)

Bivalve boom? Researchers work to restore Elkhorn Slough’s Olympia oysters

Jacob Harris showing off Moss Landing Marine Labs' "home-grown" oysters.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

A new generation of Olympia oysters has officially taken up residence in Elkhorn Slough. Scientists hope breeding oysters in the lab and returning baby oysters to the slough will help the mollusks to rebound from the brink of extinction. Kate Hull reports.

MORE LOCAL EFFORTS: Little fish, big splash: Coho salmon’s Mill Creek debut stuns conservationists (Lookout)


And that’s what I know this Tuesday morning. You’ll want to keep an eye on what’s coming from Lookout, and this being Tuesday, that includes another edition of Lily Belli on Food. You can get that and all of our other free newsletters, plus breaking news alerts, delivered right to you by clicking here — and of course, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay current on everything happening around Santa Cruz County.

None of what we do here at Lookout is possible without community support — so if you’re not already, please consider becoming a Lookout member.

Take care, have an excellent Tuesday and I’ll see you on the flip side.

Will McCahill
Lookout Santa Cruz