I still remember my first trip to the Fellsmere Community Garden. Yolanda, one of the members of the Farm Worker Association of Florida who plays an integral role in maintaining the garden, explained to me and other YAYAs the importance of the garden: “This garden is not just about fresh food,” she said. “This garden is a food movement.”
When most people think about community gardens, they don’t typically think about them as political—as making an argument about policy or governance. But, Yolanda was articulating the broader implications behind the garden in terms of food sovereignty. The garden, she argued, provides a way for farm workers in particular to have access to healthy food. It is an argument for the value of farm labor and an assertion of farm worker rights to quality food.
Sadly, during our most recent Fellsmere Community Garden Event on Saturday, April 26, I and about seven other YAYAs learned that the struggle for food sovereignty in Fellsmere is real (#thestruggleisreal). We sat with Yolanda at the local farmer’s market, where some of the produce harvested from the garden is sold at a low price to local community members, and talked about the difficulties she and others have been having in Fellsmere. Sustaining the garden has been rough, mostly due to the equally difficult task of sustaining a constant flow of volunteers to work in the garden and at the farmer’s market.
The local youth have risen to the occasion, however, and are taking active roles in revitalizing the “food movement” in Fellsmere. Together, a group of young girls who are predominantly children of farm of workers have been working to promote community involvement in the garden. We brainstormed together about how to assess the communities investment in the garden, what their health needs might be, and how we might be able to build and sustain more community engagement (broadly defined). One idea we tossed around had to do with organizing some social events where community members could meet and get to know each other.
And we need your help!
As YAYAs we are also a part of the Fellsmere community, and I want to encourage all of us to consider attending a Fellsmere Community Garden event in the future.
Community garden events are held about once every month, and last from about 7:30 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. We provide carpool and food, so be on the lookout for future trips which will be announced on our facebook page.
Share events widely, and consider participating in our phone banking efforts to bring more folks out.
Gabriela Raquel Ríos