Law students from FAMU Law School’s Environmental Law Society were joined by a volunteer from UCF environmental studies class and a Rollins College pre-practicum student for a Toxic Tour on March 2nd. Visiting the former farmland and learning about the toxic contamination of the lands and water by organochlorine pesticides, driving past the Zellwood Superfund site, seeing a farmworker housing area, picnicking on the shore of Lake Apopka, and visiting Linda Lee at her home, the group learned much in 3 hours and left with much to ponder and with motivation to take action. Here are some reflections from David Duany, a Rollins College Master of Mental Health Counseling student, who participated in the first part of the tour:
“The Toxic Tour of Lake Apopka is a true history lesson with a narrative that has not yet been completed. As water-dwelling and aquatic loving locals of the Orlando metropolitan area, my friends and I have been aware of the water toxicity issues regarding Lake Apopka for many years. We have only journeyed into Lake Apopka by boat to sight-see and never ventured into the waters to swim, fish, waterski, or wakeboard.
I knew the lake was contaminated, but I didn’t know why until learning about the decades worth of fertilizers and pesticides that would ebb and flow into the lake waters as they would let the water levels flood the north shoreline in the summer months. Furthermore, the Toxic Tour provided eye-opening information pertaining to the issues which farmworkers experienced over decades of muck farming in the Apopka area.
Techniques for farming which date back to times before the industrialization of food systems are re-emerging. A refocus to responsible farming needs to happen with greater and continual awareness, sharing knowledge of the benefits for using indigenous and modern organic practices and techniques that have lasted for many millennia across the world to grow food.”