“Improving the lives of farmworkers since 2004”


‘Vecinos’ is the Spanish word for ‘neighbors’.  Vecinos is an active nonprofit that advocates and provides support to farmworkers in Western North Carolina. Farmworkers, especially in the predominantly rural areas that exist in WNC, face tremendous barriers and are one of the most vulnerable populations in the state of North Carolina, particularly in the area of health care. North Carolina is the sixth highest state for number of migrant farmworkers in the country, yet the reality is that most of general public are not aware of the contributions to not only our food system but North Carolina's economy from migrant farmworkers. Vecinos works to improve the lives of farmworkers in North Carolina by acting as a resource for them to help meet their most basic needs. Such services exist to alleviate the burden of the difficulties this population faces and range from improving access to health care,  providing health education, access and linkages to community resources, and providing services they need to live a better quality of life.

It is very common for these workers to be overlooked in terms of access to health care services, transportation, education, etc. and by providing resources right where the target population is through a mobile  medical clinic it greatly improves their chance of obtaining the health care and services needed. Many farmworkers that work in rural areas are less likely to have reliable transportation and access to affordable health care and are often overlooked because of their working status. Vecinos works to ensure that farmworkers are given equitable protection under the law and advocates for the recognition of all farmworkers in their communities. Vecinos serves over 750 patients in five different counties including Macon, Jackson, Swain, Haywood, and Transylvania.


Type of Organization




Primary Contact

Marianne Martinez, Executive Director


Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VecinosInc


Issues of Focus

  • Farmworkers

  • Migrant Farmworkers

  • Access to healthcare

  • Health Education

  • Chronic Disease Prevention

  • North Carolina Agriculture

  • Economic Development

  • Local foods

History of Organization

Vecinos grew out of a vision from the founders, Josie Ellis and Dr. Mark Heffington, in 2001 while visiting migrant farmworker labor camps in Jackson County, North Carolina. Out of this, the Vecinos medical model was developed and funded through a North Carolina Farmer Medical Grant. Vecinos became an operating non-profit organization in 2004 and has been advocating and working to serve migrant farmworkers in Western North Carolina ever since. Vecinos continues to be funded through the NC Farmworker Health Program and are only one of two medical homes for farmworkers in the state of North Carolina.

Programs and Projects

  • Most work is done through the mobile medical clinic, which operates 3 days a week from May to November

  • Operation of food pantry for farmworkers

  • Provide access to a night clinic that is  run out of Western Carolina University

  • Identify labor camps with farmworkers

  • Provide health assessments to all workers

  • Provide access to visits with nurse and physicians on site

  • Diagnose, manage, and treat chronic health conditions on site

  • Case management services including: transportation to health care services and appointments, food assistance, medication, car seat installation, interpretation, etc.

  • Public health education and outreach (nutrition education, fitness opportunities and education, access to healthy foods, access to places to be physically active, immunizations, etc. )

Partners and Frequent Collaborators

  • Western Carolina University

  • Blue Ridge Community Health Center

  • NC Legal Aid

  • Student Action with Farmworkers

  • NC Farmworker Health Program

  • Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic

  • NC Justice Center