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Fewer hands in the fields

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Reporting from Wray, Ga. — It was a Tuesday afternoon at the height of blackberry season, and the Paulk family farm was short 100 pickers. It was Don Pedro's job to find them.

Pedro Guerrero, 54, the smiling, soft-spoken man in black cowboy boots whom everyone calls Don Pedro, was barreling down two-lane roads in a compact Chevy on a hunt for his own people. He was searching amid the trailers and tumbledown rental houses and mercados that have sprung up since the 1990s, when waves of Latinos began arriving in Georgia to harvest food, serve it in restaurants and scrape it from soiled plates.

Don Pedro kept one hand on the wheel. The other sorted paper scraps stuffed in the pocket of his Western shirt. On a flip phone, he punched in numbers for guys named Felipe and Miguel and Sixto, surfing an analog network of cousins and friends of friends and old sources who might know where the hard workers were.


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