Wimauma is a changing agricultural community dating back to the late 1800’s when it started through the expansion of the railroad and logging industries. Although the population is substantially different today, many of the Anglo and African-American families still living in Wimauma trace their roots back to those early days. Wimauma has become an important agricultural center, growing fresh fruits and vegetables to feed Florida’s I-4 corridor (area between Tampa and Orlando). In the late 1960’s African-Americans that comprised the majority of the labor forces migrated to northern states and were quickly replaced by Central and North American farm workers, mostly from Mexico.
Nestled in unincorporated Southeastern Hillsborough County, Wimauma encompasses over 25 square miles – the “heart” of Wimauma is approximately 3 square miles. With 6,500 year-round residents, the population swells with an additional 5,000 – 8,000 during the farming seasons. The vast diversity of this community makes Wimauma truly special. The community is sprinkled with traditional Mexican “bodegas and cantinas” along with a bakery, a few small businesses and several schools. Wimauma is a community filled with people of faith and has over 10 churches located within the community including three farmworker missions which support and meet the needs of the migrant community.
Like many rural areas, Wimauma lacks infrastructure (library, police station, bus depot or public assistance venues), economic development opportunities and access to comprehensive healthcare services. The unemployment rate has remained unchanged since 2008 at 11% and the poverty rate has increased to 40%. Nearly 30% are uninsured and 34% of residents receive SNAP benefits. Although Wimauma is a largely a Hispanic (73%) community, approximately 16% identify themselves as black with the remainder being white.
Wimauma was named by Captain Davis (who created the community) by taking the first letters of the names of his three daughters: Willie, Maude and Mary. Beautiful recreation and agricultural lands surround Wimauma community. The area is home to several nature preserves, the tranquil Manatee River and an airport. Since 1972, the Wimauma Community Development Corporation has been a stable force to unite the community and assist with building the capacity of residents to engage in meaningful change.