Julia Tuttle, the Mother of Miami. See this sculpture at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami.
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.
Here are some faces of today's women active in South Florida's food and farming community – and they represent only the tip of the iceberg. We honor these and all of the women in South Florida 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.
Photo 3: Claire Tomlin (right) started many of South Florida's farmers markets.
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.
Photo 2: Teena Borek's family farm showcases heirloom tomatoes, greens and other produce.
Photo 3: Pam Vick of V&B Farms was recently honored by the Dade County Farm Bureau
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 of Cao Chocolates, Miami's only bean-to-bar chocolate supplier.
Photo 3: Farmer Gaelle sells fresh produce, honey, eggs and soaps at Southwest Community Farmers Market at Tropical Park.
Photo 4: Adena Ellenby of LNB Groves sells tropical fruit smoothies, turmeric, jackfruit and other local produce at the Pinecrest farmers market every Sunday.
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: Helen Cole sells her artisan jerky at farmers markets in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Photo 3: Martica Verdeja of Martica's Sweet Creations – flans and cookies – and Mi Ae Lipe, author of Bounty from the Box, a CSA cookbook.
Photo 4: Romina Grau of Meringue Factory, artisan meringues sold at markets and events.
Photo 1: Author, blogger and event planner Christine Najac puts together 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 at 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 of UM Special Collections, which includes a culinary history of South Florida, 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: Renee Joslyn makes preserves with local fruits and artisan baked goods to sell at farmers markets.
Photo 2: Cecilia and her colleagues of the Tropical Fruit and Vegetable Society sell tropical fruit sundaes at Fruit and Spice Park events.
Photo 3: Vegan chef, author and artisan baker Pamela Wasabi bakes plant-based cookies to sell at South Florida businesses.
Photo 4: 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.