In 1992, Hurricane Andrew devastated the town of Homestead, Florida south of Miami. While thousands of people were critically impacted by the devastation, farmworkers were the last to get assistance, if they received any at all. The Farmworker Association of Florida, already experienced in responding to natural disasters’ impacts on farmworkers, traveled to the Homestead area to seek out, reach out to and assist the thousands of virtually “invisible” farmworkers to help them get the emergency housing, food, clothing, and other assistance they so desperately needed. Because of the nature and extent of the devastation and the needs in the community, the response and recovery efforts stretched into months and even years. With a commitment to help and to empower the community, FWAF established a presence in the area and, in 1992 opened the Homestead/Florida City office.
FWAF was instrumental in the development of Everglades Village, a farmworker housing community, and opened and operated an ethnic food store for the community there for many years. The farmworker community in Homestead/Florida City is largely Hispanic – Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Honduran – with an increasing number of workers from Haiti and other Caribbean nations. Some in the African American community continue to do agricultural work in the area, as well.
Prior to Hurricane Andrew, the main crops in the Homestead area were vegetables and citrus. In the aftermath of the hurricane, these crops were re-established, but the community has seen increasing urbanization encroaching on the agricultural landscape, as growth has swept in from Miami to the south. Some of the vegetable fields and citrus groves have since been converted to ornamental plant nurseries that supply the ever-growing demand for landscape and indoor foliage plants that the new development demand. Today, while vegetables, such as okra, peppers, eggplant and melons continue to be grown in the Homestead and Florida City areas, greenhouses, ornamental flowering plants and palm plantations have become thriving businesses employing many farmworkers. In addition, plantations of mangos, leeches, avocados, and other tropical fruits have proliferated in the area, as the demand for exotic fruits continues to grow.
329 N. Flagler Avenue
Homestead, FL 33030
Phone: (305) 247-0072
Fax: (305) 247-0092
Homestead's Campesinos' Garden
The FWAF Homestead office is operating two community gardens: an herb garden, with hoop houses and a compost bin, and a larger garden, that is on land made available by the county.
- Ornamental Plants
- Foliage Plants
- Tropical Fruits
- Palm Tress
Programs in the Homestead Office include:
- Pesticide Safety and Environmental Health
- Civic Engagement and Civic Participation
- Services – Assistance with service programs and immigration applications and referrals
- The Women’s Arts and Crafts Project
- La Farmacia Popular – the People’s Pharmacy
- Campesinos’ Gardens
By DALE FINLEY SLONGWHITE
THE HIGH COSTS OF CHEAP FOOD