The trip we made on Saturday November 7th to the Fellsmere Campesinos’ Gardens was my second since I’ve been part of YAYA-NFMW. I’ve been looking forward to getting my hands dirty and getting to see and work with the people of the Farmworker Association of Florida again after over a year since my last trip to the gardens.
A little summary about who the Farmworker Association of Florida (FWAF) are from their website FWAF, ”The Farmworker Association of Florida, Inc. evolved from the Farmworker Association of Central Florida, an organization that was established by a group of farmworkers in Mascotte, Florida in 1983 to respond to the needs of the farmworker community in Central Florida. The founding purpose of the Association was to organize farmworkers more effectively in their struggle for better housing, wages, and working conditions. The Association was incorporated in 1986, and expanded statewide in 1992. Over the last 25 years, FWAF has grown to be a statewide organization with more than 8,000 member families, and five locations throughout Central and South Florida.”
Ironically, it is often the case that farmworkers don’t have access to the fresh foods they work so hard harvesting on the fields for shoppers, like you and me, to consume. The Campesinos’ Gardens are located in government owned land and they engage farm worker families in “sustainable agricultural efforts”, in addition to giving them access to healthy fruits, herbs, and vegetables.
Nico, Shelby, AJ and I made our way down to Fellsmere early on Saturday so we could make the most out of the day. Once we reached FAWF’s Fellsmere office, we were greeted my Maru, her daughter and son. Soon after, we headed to the gardens where Daniel was waiting for us and ready to get to work. Last time YAYA visited in September, they planted jicama and camote (sweet potato). We started our day by harvesting the crops and loading them on the wheel carts. Most of the morning was spent on harvesting, clearing the plot of weeds and getting them ready for planting. Of course, we took a break from work and the heat to enjoy some refreshing jicama, which we enjoyed with a little sea salt, lemon, and chile…just delicious!
The second part of our day was spent planting bok choy and tomatoes. Unfortunately, we could not get to the tomatoes since we got rained on. We returned to FWAF and enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by Maru before heading back to Orlando.
The opportunity to work hand in hand with the farm worker community of Fellsmere makes me appreciate the essential and skilled work campesinos perform day in and day out in our country. On this THANKSGIVING, remember to thank the men and women working on the fields for the wonderful foods we get to share with our loved ones. Thank you YAYA and Nico for the invitation. I am looking forward to our next visit…
Ileana Roque Gonzalez