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Monday, March 19, 2018

March Toxic Tours with Rollins, FSU, Loyola and Xavier Colleges

Thursday March 1st Rollins Biology students visited FWAF for a Toxic Tour with their Professor, Dr. H. Bobby Fokidis who teaches in the department of Biology at Rollins college. Professor Fokidis knew and had worked with Dr. Louis Guillette, who conducted the alligator studies on Lake Apopka that ultimately concluded that they're were imbalances of reproductive hormones in the alligator population. The students in this class were made up of students interested in biology relevant to our everyday lives. The tour began around 8am and ended at 10:30am. Thank you to this class of biology students who showed much interest and asked many questions about Lake Apopka and the people who were affected by the contamination of the farm lands. 

Rollins College students on the Toxic Tour 

On Wednesday March 8th, as part of Hope Community Center's service immersion program students from Xavier College and Loyola University were brought together.  On this day, they were visiting FWAF for an hour long presentation to learn about the issue of the Lake Apopka farmworkers and the realities for farmworkers in general.  The students had been working in the nurseries interacting with workers during the week and visited the FWAF Campesino's Community Garden as part of their service learning week but gained a deeper context of the issues during their visit to FWAF.

The students during Lake Apopka presentation 

On Friday March 9th Florida State University Law students from Tallahassee came to FWAF Apopka for a service learning weekend. The weekend began with a Lake Apopka Toxic Tour on Friday March 9th. On Saturday the 10th they spent 1/2 day working in a nursery and 1/2 day doing outreach. On Sunday the 11th, they participated in an intensive workshop learning day to learn about the immigration issues impacting farmworkers and health and safety issue as well as the Worker Protection Standard and chlorpyrifos. The workshop on Sunday was facilitated by Dominique Aulisio from YAYA (Youth and Young Network of the National Farmworker Ministry) and Antonio Tovar who is our staff researcher at FWAF.  Monday they spent time learning about human trafficking with the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation. 

FSU visiting the Campesino's Garden 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Emrbrace Hope for Racial Understanding Lake Apopka Farmworkers attend Black History Month Event

On Monday February 12th 2018, our Apopka office along with Hope CommUnity Center,
shared an evening exploring the importance of storytelling within generations and the importance of dialogue centering racial experiences in America. The evening began with a southern style dinner catered by local chef Willie Bell, then followed with a dynamic presentation by South Florida native, Dr.Kitty Oliver, who is a veteran journalist, oral historian, author, television and radio producer.  She has been featured on CNN news, “Black in America,” for her race relations work. She is also president of Kitty O. Enterprises, Inc., a cultural diversity consulting firm based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, and director of the new Race and Change Initiative at Florida Atlantic University. Her work focuses on intergenerational race and ethnic relations topics. A crowd of over 100 diverse people from the Apopka and Central Florida area were in attendance. Including key leaders of the African American Lake Apopka Farmworkers such as Linda Lee and her family, Maryann Robinson, Lessie Stevens, Rosa Nivens, Eloise Barnes and Mary Tinsley.
They attentively listened, asked questions and observed as Dr. Oliver discussed ways in which we as a community can prioritize and create race related dialogues to create connections in culturally different situations. Some of those in attendance could directly relate to Dr.Oliver’s reading’s of life in the South, at the end of the event several people shared their appreciation for Dr.oliver’s stories of racial experiences as it allowed them to feel more connected and unified with their experiences growing up and their community. This event was sponsored by the Florida Humanities Council ( with funds from the Florida Department State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

UCF Women and Gender Studies Students Learn about Lake Apopka

On Saturday February 3rd, UCF professor, Dr. Santana provided an amazing opportunity for her students to come out to FWAF Apopka and learn about Lake Apopka Farmworkers. As part of their curriculum in her classes, students read the book Fed Up by Dale Finely Slongwhite. This group of students was made up of mainly juniors/seniors, part of Santana's Women, Race and Struggle class, as well as two YAYA members (Youth and Young Adult Network of the National Farmworker Ministry).

During their visit, the students met Linda Lee who was featured in the book Fed Up.  Linda gave her personal testimony of working on the Lake Apopka farms and how this has affected her and generations of her family members. Then the students partook of a "Toxic Tour", which helped to give the students a better overview of why they were there, to see first hand how environmental racism has affected people in their local community.

Professor Santana shared some words on why incorporating this into her curriculum is important:

"It is sometimes wonderful to read Oral Histories but meeting the person who inspired a book is remarkable. My students were able to visit, hear, smell and feel the places and people they read about and study under Environmental Racism and the intersectionalities of gender, race, place of origin, body ability and social class among others. As activists and feminists it is crucial for us to investigate and experience the realities of all members of our community. The farmworkers are part of our community. Without their honest work in the fields we would not have food on our tables."

We are so thankful for conscious professors like Maria Santana, who realizes the importance of an education grounded in social awareness and provides these opportunities for her students. 

If you are interested in a toxic tour or presentation please contact

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

UCF Students Experience Service Immersion over MLK weekend

 Many college students consider the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday which is held every year on the third Monday of January as another opportunity to take a break and rest with a day off. However, for those involved in their community's and part of the community service world, MLK is a day ON not off, it is considered a day of service to others and a chance to connect with one another and remember the legacy that Dr.King as well as many other civil rights and social justice activists have left for us to continue.

For a group of 8 UCF students, this past MLK day weekend consisted of not only sleeping in a room full of strangers but getting out of their comfort zones and learning about the issues of farmworkers and immigration in their local communities. Alicia Perez a UCF student who is an alternative break program coordinator and volunteer has a strong vision for planning this weekend since the issues at hand are close to her heart

"With everything that is going on politically and socially in our nation, I felt that it was important to inform those around me about the stories that they don't hear in mainstream media when linked with farm worker and immigration issues even if that meant facing the pain left behind from my story. To bring a face, and humanize the issues even if that face was just mine. " 

Alicia Spearheaded the planning for this particular trip because of how important the issue of immigration and farmworker injustices is, she wanted other UCF students to learn about these issues and help spread the awareness. 

Throughout the weekend the students interacted with local farmworkers, heard testimony of their stories and learned about the local issues of environmental racism and much more. On their first day of the weekend the students spent their Saturday morning working in a local nursery where they spent a few hours" in the shoes" of a farmworker, the students then took a tour of Lake Apopka where they then learned about the toxic history of the lake and it's historical farming practices and farmworker treatment. The last two days consisted of working in the local Campesino's garden to learn about FWAF's national Agroecology movement and the students even got the opportunity to participate in South Apopka's annual MLK day parade where community members come together to celebrate community diversity and unity. 

"I know that in order for me to reach the change that I want to impact later on in life with my many goals, I have to start small and I have to start now, regardless of how painful it may be for me. I hope that one day I will be able to speak about my story the way Ms. Linda spoke to us about hers. "- Alicia 

Check out this article by Valerie Starks about this immersion weekend

If you are interested in participating in a service immersion experience with FWAF please contact

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Rollins Bonner Students and BSU Winter ABT 2018 learn about Lake Apopka Farmworkers

On Tuesday January 9th, The Farmworker Association of Florida office in Apopka was visited by two student groups who although they are from completely different states, had one important thing in common, they were eager to learn about the realities of farmworkers in Florida specifically, those who worked on Lake Apopka's farms.

The most local group was made up of first and second year students from the Rollin's College Bonner leaders program and Alfond program. The Rollins College Bonner Leaders Program is a cohort based community service program that pairs undergraduate students in their Liberal Arts program with local nonprofit organizations. This school year, as part of their annual immersion, they were focusing on farmwork and immigration, as a class they read the book Fed Up by Dale Finely Slongwhite to learn about Lake Apopka before visiting the Apopka community firsthand. On Tuesday, the students received a first hand look at the lake, the local  FWAF Campesino's garden and then a presentation on the history of Lake Apopka's farmworkers.

The second group of students were visiting all the way from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. These students were participating in Hope CommUnity center's student immersion program, which BSU has been participating in annually, sending groups of students as part of their Community Service Center's alternative break service learning program. The BSU students spent their morning getting their hands dirty at the FWAF Campesino's garden in Apopka. While there they learned about the importance of food sovereignty vs food security and the impact that community garden's have in our social justice movements.  Later that day they arrived at FWAF where they learned about the history of Lake Apopka's farmworkers. 

Share your thoughts! What do you think the impacts of community garden's are? Are student community service immersion programs part of your college culture? 

Interested in Scheduling a toxic tour or class presentation? contact
For more pictures visit our Facebook page

Monday, December 11, 2017

Former Lake Apopka Farm Workers Learn Civil Rights History

On December 9th 2017, Former Lake Apopka Farmworkers took a trip with  FWAF Apopka staff members and local community member organizers to learn about very important Florida activists Harry & Harriette Moore. The Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Museum is located in Brevard County, Mims FL. The FWAF staff have been eagerly awaiting this day to be able provide these former Lake Apopka Farmworkers and local Apopka community activists with the opportunity to learn about such influential people who were original civil rights leaders in a fundamental time in history.

Harry T. and his wife Harriette V. were the first true civil rights activists of the modern civil rights era in the State of Florida. Both Harry and Harriette were dedicated to the cause of black liberation during this time. Harry is most well known for heading a black voters registration campaign in 1945 which resulted in the most black voters registered out of all southern states (over 100,000 voters) as well as organizing the first Brevard County branch of the NAACP in 1934.

The influential couple, were murdered in 1951 when a bomb exploded under their humble home on Christmas day. Harry died on the long drive to the closest hospital that would care for black patients, Harriette survived the initial bombing but died 9 days after the night of the bombing incident. They left behind their two daughters as well as a profound legacy of social activism that truly provided a foundation for the recognized time of the civil rights movement.

The FWAF group was extremely grateful to have learned about Harry and Harriette who were so important for civil rights movements all over the country and especially in our own state of Florida. When asked the question "what did you learn today?" 7 year old grandson of former Lake Apopka farmworker Linda Lee said " I know who Harry T. Moore is and I will go to school and tell my teachers all about him"

To learn more about the museum and schedule a tour, please visit their website

The resting site of Harry & Harriette
FWAF group members smiling after visiting the house 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

International Food Workers Awareness Week UCF

On Monday, November 20th, a group of curious UCF students and two campus professors attended a book signing of the book Fed Up by Dale Finely Slongwhite. Special guests in attendance were Linda Lee, local Apopka community activist who is featured in the book, and Jeannie Economos, FWAF Lake Apopka Project Coordinator.

In collaboration with The Youth and Young Adult Network of the National Farm Worker Ministry   (YAYA) and SLAP – the Student Labor Action Project at UCF, this event was hosted as part of International Food Workers Week, an annual week of awareness for all food workers coordinated by the Food Chain Workers Alliance . This year, IFFW was November 16th-25.  The event is held annually during the week of Thanksgiving to engage the public about the importance of food workers and to move people to take action. Events or actions around the U.S. are organized by the FCWA, member groups, and allies.

The group at UCF listened to the testimony of Linda Lee, as she spoke of her experiences working on the Lake Apopka Farms. Her words touched everyone in the room as they listened to her speaking of the struggles of working an arduous job on the farms and the impact of the injustice of pesticide exposure on her health and the health of all farm workers. Routes of exposure to dangerous pesticides are dermal, respiratory, and through ingestion. Serious skin rashes were common among the muck farm workers from direct contact with residues on plants, but workers also were sprayed directly or were exposed to pesticide drift from crop dusters and/or tractors. 

Linda Lee's story provided a window into the larger picture of injustices against farm workers everywhere. Although the Lake Apopka farms have been closed since 1998, the long term effects of pesticide exposure are generational and continue to affect family members of the farm workers of Lake Apopka. 

 To learn more about the Lake Apopka farmworkers, follow this link to purchase a copy of Fed Up or visit our Apopka main office location at 1264 Apopka Blvd., Apopka, FL 32703

Also in honor of International Food Workers week, the Lake Apopka Memorial Quilts will be displayed in Rollins Olin Library located in Winter Park FL. The display dates are November 21st- December 14th.