White settlers entered the area in the mid 19th century, farming along the southern shores. However, it was the 1996 Lake Apopka Improvement and Management Act (Section 373.461, Florida Statutes 1996) that determined it was in the public interest to pursue a buy-out of all the farms on the north shore of Lake Apopka and eliminate the major source of These recovering wetlands are now attracting wildlife and especially migratory birds. Author Dale Slongwhite interviewed eleven former farm workers whose stories have been silenced until now. Ultimately, though, a series of deep freezes would drive citrus production away from Central Florida. Today, its used by the St Johns River Water Management District, to keep the North Shore Restoration Area (post muck farm) flooded with water. After completion, water levels in the lake lowered by three feet. Farm workers crawling down endless rows from dawn to dusk. Using their words, she has given voice to a people whose contribution to the feeding of Americans would have been forgotten. In those days, normal operating procedure was to flood the fields and back pump the runoff. “Lake Apopka still has the stigma of being a dead lake,” Thompson said. Lake Apopka has a long history as a farming community. Until 1998, the Long's owned a muck farm on nearby Lake Apopka in Orange County. 1893: Delta Canal Company completes 12 miles of canal, connecting Lake Apopka to lakes Beauclair, Dora, Eustis and Griffin, as well as the Ocklawaha River. However, thousands more had worked on the lake farmlands over the 50 + years of the history of the Lake Apopka farms. The Lake Apopka Farmworkers Environmental Health Project chronicles the timeline, history, and consequences of shutting down the muck farms [2]: "May 31, 1998 was the official culmination of farming on Lake Apopka. These recovering wetlands are now attracting wildlife and especially migratory birds. This lowered Lake Apopka’s surface by a meter, exposing most sawgrass marsh on the north shore. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Public acquisition of the farms began in 1988 to begin clean-up of Lake ApopkaFlorida's most polluted lakeafter decades of abuse by the agricultural industry. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Including these farmworkers and impacted family members, the numbers could be 100,000 people or more who were affected. During World War II to aid in the war effort, numerous vegetable farms began operating in the fertile muck lands surrounding Lake Apopka. Lake Apopka Timeline Early History Historians do not agree as to when the first human settlers arrived in the Lake Apopka area. The lake’s north shore muck farms were eventually purchased by the State of Florida, helping to reduce the amount of nutrient entering the lake. ( Log Out /  This muck land, much like the famed Everglades muck, was valued for its fertility. Millions of gallons of water laden with fertilizer and pesticide was now being discharged into the lake yearly. Biggs Organic Farms is a farm located in Pine Hills Florida that produces a variety of Fresh Produce, Seedlings & Worm Castings. The filtering marshes on the north shores were drained to make room for the farms. And as expected, they fed on the fish in the lake. "Lake Apopka is one of the largest lakes in Florida in the United States." These taxes were necessary to fund the maintenance and expansion of a massive engineering project: the formation of the muck farms. “But there are actually a good number of fish, and really large fish.” Thompson estimates Lake Apopka’s fish populations to be between 100,000 and 200,000. After the levee was completed, the muck land was now nearly two feet below the surface of the lake, requiring major pumping operations to keep dry. After 50 years of the seasonal cycle of planting, harvesting, and packing of produce, all cultivation of crops came to a halt. Small farms spring up around the lake. Lake Apopka Timeline Friends of Lake Apopka Page 1 PO Box 770355 Winter Garden, FL 34777-0355 ... starting in 1941, with the establishment of 20,000 acres of vegetable muck farms. These recreational opportunities are available because of the District’s continuing work at the former muck farms where wetlands are being restored to help improve Lake Apopka’s water quality. This is the original structure, built in 1941, and it’s about two and a half stories tall. Source Original 2-page document, 1978: binder 1978, Friends of Lake Apopka Archives, Ginn Museum, Oakland Nature Preserve , Oakland, Florida. These tarps are standard in the industry and cause temperatures to regularly exceed 100 degrees in the summertime. David Hill farmed that rich muck soil with his father-in-law, Billy Long, with … When citrus production came to the area, growers turned to the lake and its close proximity to the Harris Chain of Lakes as a solution to their transportation needs. Today I spent my day in Apopka, about ten miles north of Orlando. To fight this, the mucklands would be regularly flooded when not in use, keeping them wet for the next season’s growing. Classof65 July 17, 2015 at 1:02 PM. These recreational opportunities are available because of the District’s continuing work at the former muck farms where wetlands are being restored to help improve Lake Apopka’s water quality. https://richesmi.cah.ucf.edu/omeka2/items/show/5227. ( Log Out /  ... fertilizers and citrus effluent were pumped into the lake from the farms. Muck farm Farm Development on Lake Apopka’s North Shore 1941–1985 Lake Apopka Restoration FSA 2012. This wasn’t suitable for steamboat navigation, and thus in 1880 the Apopka-Beauclair Canal was excavated, attempting to link the lake to Lake Beauclair through a 12-mile long canal. During the time that they worked, there were virtually no laws to protect them and their families from pesticide exposure. You can get an idea oved the kinds of criticisms being levied against the district, even as early as 1962, from Swanson’s rebuttals . Lake Apopka Restoration Area in Lake County Florida is fast-becoming one of the best bird magnets in all of Florida. What used to be acres upon acres of fertile muck farms along the lake is now owned by the state and no food will ever be grown there again. I interviewed Haitian and Dominican women who work in the ferneries and some of the people who orgnanize the Vocational Rehabilitation program at the FWAF (http://www.floridafarmworkers.org/). Even though the Lake Apopka farms closed in 1998, the animal life has suffered greatly. The Friends of Lake Apopka, a citizen Environmental advocacy group, began to push for further restoration efforts in the 1990s. A n alarming number of farmworkers from the vegetable muck farms formerly established at the north end of the lake subsequently developed lupus.This was likely caused by overexposure to pesticides when picking, cutting, and packaging the vegetables grown on the muck farms. Turbidity was not identified as a parameter of concern in the 1998 303(d) list for Lake Apopka, however it was placed upon the planning list for Lake Apopka following the 2002 assessment methodology. Bear Lake is a 310-acre lake with a maximum depth of 37 feet. The Lake Apopka North Shore is a true diamond in the rough. The healthy marshes that filtered the lake’s incoming water were drained to make room for the muck farms. Similar chemicals, including DDT, were used on the Lake Apopka muck farms. That was a huge turning point in the lake’s recovery, Dunn said. Gulley’s hardware store until 1948 and in recent years a real eyesore - was torn down. The variety of crops on the muck farms enabled workers to move from fields to field and even work in different industries depending on the season. The growers received millions of dollars while the farmworkers who had worked those fields for decades, unknowingly poisoning themselves and their families, received nothing. 1942: Farms begin discharging into the lake. After 50 years of the seasonal cycle of planting, harvesting, and packing of produce, all cultivation of crops came to a halt. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Laws of Florida) paved the way for restoration work at Lake Apopka to begin. This park is on the east side of Lake Apopka, and the shoreline there was restored using native vegetation by FOLA and volunteers. The lake’s north shore muck farms were eventually purchased by the State of Florida, helping to reduce the amount of nutrient entering the lake. Last week, I mentioned briefly the issues Lake Apopka faces. The next year, 1993, would see FOLA assisting in a restoration project at Magnolia Park. This area, once wetlands that helped to filter the lakewater, became devoted to “truck farming”, commercial farms focused on exporting produce. The community continues to decline in health, their frustrations unanswered. Decades of pesticide abuse had lead to ambiguous genitalia in male alligators and super estrogenized females as observed by scientists from the University of Florida in the early 90s. Former marshland diked off from Lake Apopka, the third-largest lake in Florida, and converted to vegetable farms in the early to mid1900s. These recreational opportunities are available because of the District’s continuing work at the former muck farms where wetlands are being restored to help improve Lake Apopka’s water quality. A massive bird kill was recorded near the Lake Apopka muck farms. The next year, 1993, would see FOLA assisting in a restoration project at Magnolia Park. Restoration efforts have been ongoing since the state of Florida bought 20,000 acres of muck farms on the north shore of Lake Apopka to stop the flow of fertilizer and pesticides into the lake. Laws of Florida) paved the way for restoration work at Lake Apopka to begin. The Toxic Tour of Lake Apopka, led by Jeanne Economos of the Farmworker Association of Florida, shared the deep history of Lake Apopka’s North Shore, agriculture, and nutrient pollution. Ferneries are dominated by women workers who come into much closer and prolonged contact with pesticide residues than in other industries. The Latino, Hispanic, and Caribbean workers who lived in the labor camps lost their jobs but also their homes when the trailers they rented from A. Duda Farms proved to dilapidated to be moved. Lake Apopka and placing the dredged material in the chosen placement areas within the existing LANS wetlands for beneficial uses. owned properties adjacent to Lake Apopka will be used for material handling and beneficial use of dredged material, which will be considered in the selection of material handling alternatives. ( Log Out /  But that population is about to increase exponentially. Collected by: Rollins College Archived since: Mar, 2014 Description: The Apopka Farmworkers Collection documents the health crisis resulting from area farmworkers' exposure to pesticides used in farming, and from exposure to environmental contaminants from nearby sites, around Lake Apopka in Central Florida. Reply Delete. This week, I’d like to talk about the origins of these problems. The Lake Apopka Restoration Act, signed into law by Gov. There are no inflowing surface streams, but water enters by a well-defined spring, groundwa-ter seepage, precipitation, and water pumped from the adjacent muck farms (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1978). They did return. INTRODUCTION Review of recent systematic water quality improvement efforts initiated within Lake Apopka and the adjoining former muck farms Over a Century of Impacts to the Lake Apopka Ecosystem, 1940–1980 1941 Creation of Zellwood Drainage and Water Control District. These videos provide more context about the Lake Apopka Farmworkers story. It is unlikely that any more will be created in the United States, because of environmental regulations. Lake Apopka is the fourth largest lake in the U.S. state of Florida. Local dock builders refuse to work there. A dozen funerals in one week. 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