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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Lake Apopka Farmworkers Visit Their Quilts at the Orlando Regional History Center

Lake Apopka farmworkers Linda Lee, Betty Dubose, Geraldean Matthew, and Mary Ann Robinson, along with three youth from the community and Rollins College volunteer, Dustin Baetz, visited the powerful "And, Still We Rise" exhibit this past Sunday, April 26th at the Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando. The exhibit is a collection of some 70 hand-made quilts by African American Quiltmakers on the themes of the African American experience in America from slavery to the present, including a quilt in honor of the Tuskegee (birthplace of Betty Dubose) airmen and of Congresswomen Shirley Chisholm, among many others.  
Linda Lee and Gereldean Matthew talk to onlookers about their quilt.
The highlight for the group was to see the Lake Apopka Farmworker Memorial Quilts - both the Red Quilt and the Blue Quilt - along with the quilt brochures - on display in a room adjacent to the main exhibit and alongside an exhibit on the local history of African Americans in neighborhood communities of Orange County. The women were proud to see their quilts on display in conjunction with this noteworthy new and stunning exhibit of quilts that made Orlando its first stop in its scheduled nationwide tour. May 2nd is the final day of the exhibit and the Lake Apopka Farmworker Memorial Quilts will be looking for new venues in Florida to bring their message and their display.

Linda Lee, Betty Dubose, and volunteer Dustin Baetz at the exhibit. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Toxic Tour Takes a Detour

Concludes in Visit to Organic Citrus Farm
On Friday, April 17th, 2015, participants of the 33rd Annual National Pesticide Forum got to participate in an extended version of our usual Toxic Tours around Lake Apopka! The group went on a guided bus tour of Lake Apopka (via Magnolia Park in Apopka), what remains of the North Shore muck farms, and ended the day with a tour of Uncle Matt's Organic orange grove to learn about the benefits and challenges of growing organically. The tour was led by former Lake Apopka farmworker Linda Lee, farmworker and organizer Miguel Zelaya, and Coordinator of Pesticide Health and Safety Project, Jeannie Economos. 

Above, Linda Lee and one of the tour participants pose for a snapshot. Participants file back onto the bus after exploring what's left of the Lake Apopka farms

A huge thank you to everyone that came out on the Tour and participated in the Forum!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

World-Renowned Scientists to Speak at Pesticide Forum in Orlando

The Farmworker Association of Florida is very proud to co-host the 33rd Annual National Pesticide Forum with Beyond Pesticides and other partners in Orlando. One of the many amazing guests and speakers, Dr. Lou Guillette, was one of the first scientists to link pesticides to endocrine disruption and conducted his research with alligators in Lake Apopka. Many of the participants will be taking a Toxic Tour around the lake Friday afternoon, before the official start of the event. For more information or to register go to

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lake Apopka Farmworkers Featured in New Short Documentary

Our very own Linda Lee, Betty Dubose and Geraldean Matthew are featured in this new short documentary released last week by Earthjustice. Check it out!

The film, by filmmaker Sanjay Rawal, profiles Linda, Betty, and Geraldean's experiences on and the environmental destruction of Lake Apopka. The State of Florida refused to pursue justice for the Lake Apopka farmworkers, but we can encourage the EPA to strengthen the protections surrounding pesticides. Sign EarthJustice's petition for the EPA now!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Alternative Spring Break Students from University of North Florida Take Toxic Tour

What a powerful way to begin the week!  On Sunday, March 15, seven students and two professors from the University of North Florida visited the Apopka office of the Farmworker Association of Florida for an 'immersion' into the issues of farmworkers and social and environmental justice.  Starting with a Toxic Tour of Lake Apopka, with an opportunity to watch both the "Out of the Muck" and the "Los Naranjeros" videos, the students engaged in a day of learning, observing, questioning, thinking, and challenging the current and past injustices experienced by farmworkers in our country.

With probing questions, open hearts, and alert minds, the group met Linda Lee and heard her personal stories of decades as a farmworker on Lake Apopka.  Ms. Linda also shared with the students some of her most recent quilt square creations, indicative of her creative talents and passion for storytelling through art. Linda keeps getting better all the time!

So incredible was this group of students, that they delayed their drive to Immokalee to stay and hear and learn more.  The group was an inspiration to us!  Thank you from all of us at FWAF!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Farmworkers and "Fed Up" Author at Tampa History Center and Seminole State College

Farmworkers Linda Lee and Betty Dubose joined Fed Up author Dale Slongwhite for a presentation at the beautiful Tampa Bay History Center in Tampa, FL on the evening of Wednesday, February 11th.

 After showing the video "Out of the Muck" and sharing information on the background of environmental problems on Lake Apopka, Ms. Lee and Ms. Dubose talked about their personal experiences as farmworkers in the vegetable fields of Lake Apopka.  Ms. Slongwhite then shared how hearing the farmworkers' stories for the first time at an environmental justice summit at Barry University Law School over five years ago changed her life forever...and was the catalyst that led to her writing the book.  Following the presentation was a question and answer period and station TBAE filmed the event.  Plus, the ride home was fun, too!

A little over a week later, on February 19th, the Red Quilt as well as Linda Lee, Betty Dubose and Dale Finley Slongwhite visited with Professor Anne Riecken's English class at Seminole State College in Altamonte Springs, FL. The students watched "Out of the Muck" as an introduction and then Ms. Lee and Ms. Dubose again spoke about their experiences in the fields. Ms. Slongwhite discussed the process of writing her book as well as her techniques for oral histories and the interviews that make up the book. Farmworker Association of Florida staff member, Jeannie Economos, gave background history on the Lake Apopka farms and the environmental destruction they wrought. It was a great day, and 55 new people got to hear the story of the Lake Apopka Farmworkers.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Quilts on Display at the Orange County Regional History Center

This Saturday, February 7th, 2015, the Lake Apopka Farmworker Memorial Quilts were seen by dozens of visitors to the Orange County Regional History Center. The quilts are being displayed as part of the And Still We Rise: Race, Cultural and Visual Conversations special exhibit that will be at the museum from February 7th until May 3rd. The exhibit explores nearly four centuries of African American history, through more than 60 story quilts made by women of color.