Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Farmworker and Immigrant Justice Allies Experience Lake Apopka Toxic Tour; Dig Deep into Farmworker Issues and Injustices.

Powerful young people, working for justice, visited the Farmworker Association of Florida on August 1st to experience the Lake Apopka Toxic Tour. Starting at the FWAF office in Apopka with a background on the lake’s environmental problems and the showing of the video “Out of the Muck”, the tour became a journey through the past and into the present of Lake Apopka.

Community leader, Linda Lee, led the tour, which included friends and allies from the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Central Florida Jobs with Justice, the Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) network of the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM), Organize Florida and Claudette, our new Rollins College Intern.

Everyone was deeply moved by what they saw and learned. The tour unpacked the experiences of racism against Black and Hispanic farmworkers and the damage to mother earth by our chemically dependent system of agriculture.

Linda Lee’s story got deep into everyone’s heart, as she described the long hours of intense physical labor in Florida’s hot and humid environment, all the while exposed to toxic pesticides.

The group traveled to the former Lake Apopka farm lands, now an eco-tourism destination with no historical information about people and animals who lived and died there. The next stop on the tour was Magnolia Park at the Lake Apopka boat ramp to observe the condition of the lake today, 20 years after the closing of the farms in 1998.

Looping back to the FWAF office, the group saw the other sources of environmental contamination in the community - two landfills and a medical waste incinerator, right next to the playground in a very impoverished community – a case of environmental injustice in our local area.

Concluding the tour, hope came in the form of resistance and restoration in learning about the FWAF Campesinos’ Garden, where the group could talk about environmental and agricultural reforms and learn about food sovereignty and agroecology in action in the local community.

We are all connected with the earth, between farmworkers and the food we all eat. Our stories of resistance and resilience are connected, we are all related. Thank you to this powerful group for your courage and consciousness.