International Women's Day 2018, South Florida edition

March 08, 2017
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Julia Tuttle, the mother of Miami. You can see this sculpture in downtown Miami's Bayfront Park.

To celebrate Women's History Month in South Florida, we begin in the city of Miami – founded in 1896 by Julia Tuttle, the only woman to found a major U.S. city. Women have historically played key roles in South Florida's growth, particularly in our food and horticultural communities. In 1944 Mary Heinlein became the first superintendent of Redland Fruit & Spice Park. Author and botanist Julia Morton, whose Fruits of Warm Climates remains an important resource, was director of the Morton Collectanea at the University of Miami and was an expert on toxic, edible and otherwise useful plants. Journalist, author and environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas' earned the title Grande Dame of the Everglades for her efforts to preserve the River of Grass. 

Today, we present faces of today's women active in South Florida's food, farming and cultural community – and they represent only the tip of the iceberg. We honor these and all of the women here who work hard to bring us food, to teach us, to nurture our community so richly in so many ways. Click on each image for a larger version.

Photo 1: Marcela Noriega and Suzanne Moe of Art for Good, featured in our Fall 2016 issue, use their nonprofit to help farmworkers cope with heat-related illnesses in Homestead and the Redland.
Photo 2: Margie Pikarsky of Bee Heaven Farm is one of the pioneers in organic farming in South Florida. She was honored as 2018 Woman of the Year by the Dade Farm Bureau.
Photo 3: Claire Tomlin (right), who started many of South Florida's farmers markets, continues to run many of our most successful markets. Sanna O'Sullivan, left, is a certified Florida Master Naturalist who works at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
Photo 4: Sandy Shapiro, executive director of the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, is also co-president of the Miami Beach Garden Club and board member of Florida Federation of Garden Clubs.
Photo 1: Thi Squire heads up Grow 2 Heal Garden at Homestead Hospital, part of Baptist Health and is a passionate advocate for healthy, local foods.
Photo 2: Teena Borek and her family farm showcase heirloom tomatoes, greens and other produce.
Photo 3: Pam Vick of V&B Farms, honored by the Dade County Farm Bureau, is a longtime family farmers.
Photo 4: At Cerasee Farm in Liberty City, Anita Franchetti works with the community to grow healthy produce.
Photo 1: Maria Alemann and her team at Artichoke Foods make healthy vegan cuisine.
Photo 2: Anelith Ortega is on the team of Cao Chocolates, Miami's only tree-to-bar chocolate supplier.
Photo 3: Farmer Gaelle Corrales sells fresh produce, honey, eggs and soaps at Southwest Community Farmers Market at Tropical Park.
Photo 4: Adena Ellenby and her mom, Kiki, sell tropical fruit smoothies with fruit from LNB Groves.
Photo 1: Gaby Berryer turns local tropical fruits into ice cream and sorbets under the Gaby's Farm label, sold at Whole Foods Markets.
Photo 2: For several years, Helen Cole sold her artisan jerky at farmers markets in Broward and Palm Beach counties. She's now moved out of South Florida, but stays in touch with friends via social media.
Photo 3: Martica Verdeja of Martica's Sweet Creations sells flans and cookies at the Southwest Community Farmers Market, and Mi Ae Lipe is author of Bounty from the Box, a CSA cookbook.
Photo 4: Romina Grau of Meringue Factory sells artisan meringues sold at markets and events.
Photo 1: Author, blogger and event planner Christine Najac puts together memorable local food and chef events in the Oakland Park Culinary Arts District.
Photo 2: Ayesha D'Mello (right), with cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey, teaches popular classes in Indian cooking in Kendall.
Photo 3: Della Heiman (right) founded Della Test Kitchen and the Wynwood Yard, a culinary incubator.
Photo 4: Michele Benesch is president of Slow Food Miami, the local chapter of the international group aimed at countering the rise of fast food.
Photo 1: Cristina Favretto heads up UM Special Collections, which includes a culinary history of South Florida, pictured here with cookbook author Anna Thomas.
Photo 2: Chef Paulette Bilsky, known for her colorful demos at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and Home Shows, also teaches kids to cook healthy meals.
Photo 3: Award-winning culinary historian, author and restaurateur Maricel Presilla, an expert on chocolate and cacao, lectures at the annual chocolate festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Photo 4: Iva Hegg and her team at Redland Fruit and Spice Park educate visitors on miracle fruit and other tropical produce that grows there.
Photo 1: Cecilia and her colleagues of the Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Society sell tropical fruit sundaes at Fruit and Spice Park events.
Photo 2: Vegan chef, author and artisan baker Pamela Wasabi bakes plant-based cookies to sell at South Florida businesses.
Photo 3: Pat Mackin (left) is a model and longtime Miami booster; Kristie Milam is VP of finance for the family-owned grocery chain, Milam's Markets.
Photo 4: Naomi Harris started the artisan bakery, Madruga Bakery
Photo 1: Taylor Moxey has given a TED talk, baked cupcakes on TV, written a book and sets up mobile libraries. She's 11.
Photo 2: Ellen Kanner – aka the soulful vegan – is an author and recipe developer covering plant-based foods.
Photo 3: Asha Loring founded the nonprofit Health in the Hood, installing community gardens and health education programs in food deserts.
Photo 4: Helene Pancoast, one of the founders of the Bakehouse Art Center, is an artist and granddaughter of plant explorer Dr. David Fairchild.
Photo 1: Urban farmers Tiffany Noé and Muriel Olivares of Little River Cooperative at the Dinner for Farmers, where they were honored for their farmer incubator program. (Photo: Ben Thacker)
Photo 2: Miss Shirley of Urban Oasis Project shares the joys of healthy local produce at the Saturday farmers market.
Photo 3: Christa Tawil is one of the forces behind Zaytouna Food, a business aimed at helping Syrian refugee women make a living by baking and cooking.
Photo 4: Longtime South Floridian Linda Gassenheimer is a TV and radio personality, syndicated journalist, bestselling author and food consultant.
Photo 1: Sustainability advocate Annick Sternberg runs the Southwest Community Farmers Market.
Photo 2: Local food advocate Jeanne Necessary is one of the faces of Urban Oasis Project.
Photo 3: Marcela Ireska Sequiera organizes Burger Beast events and the Burger Museum.
Photo 4: Francisca, the South Dade farm worker who appeared on our Fall 2016 cover, harvests okra and other produce.
Article from Edible South Florida at
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