“I think if everyone took a day off of work and went to do [farm work], they would better appreciate where their food comes from and the hard work it takes farmworkers to get there.”

Notre Dame AmeriCorps volunteer for Hope CommUnity Center Community Organizing, Robyn Thomas, shared these words about her interest and motivations for attending the 2018 Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners (BUGs) National Conference: Roots & Resilience, which will be held next week in Durham, North Carolina. Robyn will be traveling with other individuals from Central Florida representing Farmworker Association of Florida and YAYA (Youth and Young Adult Network of the National Farm Worker Ministry). She looks forward to the opportunity to tour local farms outside of Florida, see how farmworkers live and learn how the farm work is done. The team from Apopka will also be presenting the history of Lake Apopka farmworkers to the national convening.

Robyn recounted that when she was little, she would visit family members’ farms in Williston, Florida, where they raised horses and cattle and grew some produce. She thought then that all farmers had great autonomy over their production. Later, she learned about the differences between farmers and farmworkers, and just how difficult the work and overall living conditions are for farmworkers.

“It’s hard, honest work that’s not treated like it should,” she shares, referring to the low wages and perceptions that shape narratives about this industry. Robyn also shared that while she has learned a lot about the Hispanic immigrant contribution to local farm work while at Hope, she is excited to learn more at the conference about Black farmer and farmworkers’ history, current issues, food sovereignty, and land rights.

Although Robyn just recently began her service as a Notre Dame AmeriCorps volunteer, she is no stranger at Hope. Robyn was part of Workforce (Apopka Youth Works) as a Kids Camp counselor and volunteered this summer for Freedom School. “Hope was already a part of me and my family,” Robyn says as she remembers each of these programs and her participation. Robyn is proud to be part of the Central Florida team at BUGS and looks forward to bringing back valuable resources and connections to the local Black community. Hope wishes her and the Central Florida team the very best on this trip of learning and movement building!

If you would like to learn more or support Robyn’s participation at the BUGs conference with a donation click here.