Hands of Harvest is a documentary film that chronicles the journey if migrant Mexican women who travel to fishing villages on Maryland's Eastern Shore to pick crabs in seafood plants scattered along its rural shores, offering a glimpse into a renowned American industry being kept afloat by foreign labor.
Because of the unwillingness of the younger generation of local women to pick crabs for a living the picking houses on the Eastern Shore have relied on women on seasonal H2-B visas from Mexico to process the Atlantic blue crab. Blue crabs are not only a viable economic resource, but also a Maryland cultural icon and Hands of Harvest sets out to reveal the history and capture the struggle of the watermen who are fighting to keep their livelihood and culture intact in the face of imminent demise. It also documents the lives of the Mexican women who, in an effort to support their own families, are unwitting allies in the effort to maintain this storied industry. The intertwining of these two narratives provides the opportunity to explore the complexities of local politics, immigration and shifting — and often conflicting — cultural tides.