“You can put that I’m Felipe from Zidaza, Querétaro. Even though I moved here in ‘83, I will never forget my roots or my beloved state.
There’s so much I miss from home: the food, family, and the way of life. I’ve returned to Querétaro once, but my children are here. I’ve been able to raise my family and show them the agricultural lifestyle. Everything I know about agriculture is thanks to how my parents raised me. I didn’t give my family riches, but my work gave me the opportunity to give them what they needed. I thank God for the opportunity to live in this country and see my family grow.
I’ve worked in the fields with joy because it’s a job that feeds others, possibly all over the world. For those of us that work in agriculture, we are happy and proud of the work we do. We see our food grow from when it’s planted to when it’s harvested. I’ve loved everything about seeing produce begin its life and how it ends up on the tables of those that need it most. Then we follow the crops up north and do it again. I decided to stay here because this town has plenty of agricultural work and it reminds me of my hometown. There’s construction here and it pays more, but I don’t like it. I love what I do. It’s a beautiful thing.
I’m thankful that farmworkers are being recognized more for what we do. We’re being taken into consideration. Before, people wouldn’t pay attention to us on the streets and it felt like we we're invisible to some. We’re humble people who treat each other with respect no matter who you are. I’m happy to share more about myself because this isn’t something people have been able to do before. I remember how poor the working conditions were and the type of living conditions we had. You had to watch your step in the trailers we rented because we were afraid to fall through the floor because of how many holes there were. I suffered, but I’m thankful my children didn’t have to suffer as much as I did. My grandkids will grow up in a different world than me.
I don’t have money, but I have the most precious thing in the world: my children. Only God can take that away from me.”
Felipe, a loving father, reflects on his experience growing our nation’s food over the last four decades. I was surprised to find out that he worked with my father, a crew leader, over a decade ago. He is one of many hardworking individuals in Immokalee getting up daily to provide our country with nourishment. Be sure to thank a farmworker when you see them. They deserve our respect. Felipe was surprised to be thanked for what he does, but this should be normalized.
“Collier Freedom was created after Election Day 2016. I remember going to work in tears and everyone in my office felt the same way. That same day I had an annual exam scheduled and cried throughout it because the winner was against reproductive rights.
Two of my friends decided to grab dinner and beers. I realized hope helpless I felt. My friends decided that we’d march even though the results were in. Our first march was called Occupy Collier and 100 people showed up. We marched on 5th near downtown and screamed loud how opposed we were to the president-elect. People looked to us to coordinate the Women’s March in Cambiar Park.
The Immokalee community is underserved and that’s why I’m voting for the candidate that represent the residents who make up the majority of the population. Other candidates for local office care more about money. On a national level, I’m personally voting for the candidate that’s not going to put children in cages.
I’m also here to fight against voter suppression. I’m here for the new voters, returning felons, and those with a language barrier. I’m here to make this process less scary and welcoming for all. It’s important to stand up for these individuals so they feel they have a voice to better the community they want to be a part of.
-Karynn, a local activist, reflects on why she is volunteering on Election Day in Immokalee. A steady stream of vehicles came to vote at Immokalee’s local precinct. The steady flow of voters coming in-of all backgrounds and beliefs-in Immokalee makes those volunteering and voting hopeful.
"Our parents always emphasized the importance of putting up our ofrenda (altar) to welcome our loved ones during Dias de Los Muertos. The ofrenda is how we show our loved ones we are welcoming them back with open arms. It’s not only a tradition, but a time when we have our departed loved ones visit us. My ofrenda has their favorite candy, cookies, pan de muerto, sodas, beer, nuts, and fruits.
My in-laws would make it a point to stay up until midnight on the first night so our loved ones wouldn’t be alone when they crossed over to the land of the living. We make sure to have water, a candle, and path of marigold petals to guide them home. My in-laws have since passed, but we still stay up until midnight to welcome them home. I’ll turn off the candle, but I’ll pray my rosary first thing in the morning.
My ofrenda wasn’t always this elaborately decorated and it could be so much more if I could find items like in Oaxaca. I have some sugar skulls that I’ve had for a few years and we started recently started planting the marigolds. My son planted some at his house and his grew to be much bigger than mine. I try to keep the tradition alive with my children. I want them to learn to make pan de muerto and put their own ofrenda when I’m gone. I tell them I’ll need somewhere to come and visit.
We’ve been putting fresh tamales, homemade pan de muerto, and hot chocolate every day. I eat the bread after my loved ones have left, but we believe the taste has been taken by our loved ones visiting.
Making pan de muerto has been in my family as long as I remember. My abuelito would go out and sell pan de muertos every year in Oaxaca, Mexico. He taught my mom, who eventually taught me. I’m attempting to show my kids now to keep the tradition going, but it’s challenging and time consuming. I’ve modernized my mom’s recipe a bit by using butter vs lard and adding orange extract. My bread has a unique shape with designs because I wanted them to resemble more of a body, but I still make some in the traditional shape. My eldest daughter had the most interest in learning how to make it and I hope she can carry on the tradition.
Yesterday was Dia de las Visitas (Day of the Visits) and that’s what I miss most about celebrating in Mexico. We’d go to our family member’s houses and eat hot chocolate, tamales, and pan de muerto as we reminisced on old memories. We usually play music throughout the day and yesterday I played las chilenas from Oaxaca for my dad.
Today is Dia De La Comida (Day of Food), a time when I make the favorite food for those on the ofrenda. I’m planning on making caldo de pollo (a traditional Mexican chicken soup) for them to enjoy.
Since our departed loved ones are home visiting us, my family personally doesn’t go to the cemetery until all the celebrations have passed. There’s no reason to go if they aren’t there. When they leave us again, we’ll go and leave flowers at their graves.
Right now, everyone comes to my house during this time of remembrance, but in Oaxaca, each household is expected to have their own. Mine has pictures of my in-laws and father, but I know that all of my departed loved ones are visiting me even if I don’t have their photos on the ofrenda.”
Paulina, a local baker of pan de muertos (bread is the dead), reflects on the traditions and customs she inherited from her family. She also sells baked goods throughout the year and can be reached at Pau’s Bakery