We all know just how hard farmers work and the many challenges they have to face. Ask a farmer the worst thing that can happen to them and many of them will respond with their truck breaking down.
Several weeks ago, Jack and Tere Balderama left their farm in Orosi, 16 miles north of Visalia, at 3:00 a.m. like they do every Saturday, heading for the Pico Farmers’ Market at Virginia Park. At 6:45 a.m. they were half a mile from the Cloverfield exit on the 10 freeway when their truck completely stopped. Jack knew the fuel pump was the problem and they managed to get over to the shoulder of the freeway just in time. They called Ted Galvan, the Pico Market Manager, and help was soon on the way. Ted and another farmer managed to push the truck off the off-ramp all the way to a nearby gas station. The Balderama’s truck was emptied into the other farmer’s truck in order to get their produce to the market. They left their truck at the gas station to be fixed in time to drive home from the market.
Jack called the mechanic every hour, and by the time the market ended the mechanic said he could not fix the truck, but charged Jack anyway. Their truck was still at the gas station and they had to find a way to get it fixed and get home. Ted’s brother tied a rope to their truck and tried to pull it back to the park, but the rope broke, and he managed to push the truck all they way back to the park where it was loaded back up. (AAA does not provide free towing for commercial vehicles. Jack once had the truck towed two miles and it cost him nearly one hundred dollars). Jack called several mechanics and finally found one in downtown L.A. who was open and said he could fix the fuel pump. They sent a tow truck out, but due to traffic it did not show up until 6:00 p.m. They finally arrived downtown at 10:00 p.m. and the truck was fixed an hour and a half later. Jack and Tere did not get home until after one o’clock in the morning. The Balderama’s truck has broken down several times over the past few months. Don’t worry: the Balderama’s have bought a new truck.
Jerry Rutiz has been coming to the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market for nearly 25 years and his truck has only broken down once. It happened a few months ago, when he was packed up and ready to head home after the market. Just like the Balderamas, the fuel pump was to blame. Jerry could not find a mechanic in the West Los Angeles area to work on the truck and ended up having to be towed all the way to Oxnard. Fortunately, Jerry has family in the area and was able to spend the night and pick up his truck the next day. Jerry says he was very lucky his truck broke down on the way home from the market rather than on the way to the market.