Drought in the land, not in our Dreams

In Puerto Rico, we are under severe drought. Last week we planned our Fundraising event to cover the travel expenses of two of our farmers, but we got a special donation before we were able to celebrate. Tropical Storm Erika gave us a visit and brought rain, lots of it. So we postponed the Fundraising event, but we have happy farmers all over the island thanks to the storm.

Despite drought and despite many other 'issues' we are going through (which we are glad to discuss in another time), our farmers are strong. We feel so proud and honored to be represented by three of our best farmers, who we love and respect. They are young, talented and have tons of great experiences to share at Terra Madre Giovani - We Feed the Planet in Milan. Here are the stories of two of them.

Meet the lovely Daniella, she is 30 years old, a Farmer, a women in the Agribusiness,
an Agroecological Activist and Educator

“As an active member of Puerto Rico’s sustainable farming movement, I am always interested in sharing Puerto Rico’s unique experiences with other countries. I understand that the sustainable farming movement only can improve on a local and worldwide level by working together, by finding common ground. I believe wholeheartedly that Puerto Rico plays an extremely important part in the fight against transnational monopolization of our food systems. It is increasingly important to establish new alliances with organizations within and outside our own countries, in order to improve the development of food sovereignty for everybody.

“I believe wholeheartedly that Puerto Rico plays an extremely important part in the fight against transnational monopolization of our food systems.” – Daniella

I am in charge of the administration of Siembra Tres Vidas, that also includes marketing and accounting. On a typical Monday, after we harvest, it’s my job to deliver our produce to our clients. I drive down the mountain, that is an hour and a half away, to San Juan, where I deliver to 3-6 restaurants and to our local non-profit Food Hub. I usually take the advantage that I’m in the city and plan meetings I may have on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. Meetings usually have to do with any of the agro-ecology groups I am currently working with. During my Tuesday nights I create all our invoices and send them to the corresponding restaurants. Also, I am in charge of our yearly ‘planting calendar’, which means that I will choose what we grow and when. I order all the seeds, except those that we save. And what I do if I have some free time? Then I spent my time with my our 2-year-old son or I work on an online Permaculture Design Course that I’m currently enrolled in, offered by Oregon State University.

I hope and think that my experiences, not only as a young small farmer, but also as a member of various local and international sustainable farming organizations, can contribute to the Slow Food Youth Network, because I will bring knowledge of all current going-ons of Puerto Rico’s sustainable farming movement with me, including but not exclusive to: the fight against Monsanto, GMO’s, and agrochemicals, current alliances working within Puerto Rico, the US, and other Latin American countries, educational programs, local certifications, etc. It is honor for me to represent the young small scale sustainable farmers of Puerto Rico!”

Meet Freddie (who we call Fello), he is 33 years old, a Farmer and Producer
“I am part of a four-family cooperative that produces and supplies vegetables in the area of Utuado and the central region of Puerto Rico through CSA memberships, restaurants and farmers markets. We also give bio-dynamic farming workshops in different areas of our archipelago. The project is called ‘Siembra Para [email protected]’ and means ‘Sowing for Everyone’. We have a family project, Otoao Live Sodas, a small scale project and production of natural sodas made from local tropical fruits which is currently expanding.

My daily work consists of taking care of the plantations, either in the vegetable field in which we co-participate or on the fruit farm, where we cultivate, harvest fruits and process our live sodas. At the same time I take care of my family and do a lot of planning. Being involved in different farming projects, makes me want to share my knowledge and practicalities during Terra Madre Giovani - We Feed the planet. Since I was only 17 years old, I have always been thirsty for learning from people that are working in different areas of the alternative food production chain that is taking place nowadays around the planet. I’m also interested in sharing my projects with other people, I am always looking for inputs and ideas on how to improve my projects. Besides, since farming is one of my biggest interests, I think exchanging my farming experiences with others cannot only improve my knowledge, but will also improve theirs. I will ask them all questions I have and, in that way, I hope my questions can encourage to incorporate an holistic view into their projects.

“Since I was only 17 years old, I have always been thirsty for learning from people that are working in different areas of the alternative food production chain that is taking place nowadays around the planet.” – Freddie (Fello)

I would like to participate at this event, because I want to meet young farmers from others countries that are doing similar projects like us. In this way I will have the opportunity to exchange experiences, educational methods and other practices used with people from around the world. It would be wonderful to learn about farm resilience techniques as an alternative to climate change. And once I am back home, I would like to exchange my experience in Milan with the others farmers in Puerto Rico to be able to sustain the food system here.

There you go, Daniella and Freddie (Fello) are the first two farmers that we are so eager to present to the world at Terra Madre Giovani – We Feed the Planet. The story of our last farmer will follow soon! Also, we have found a new date for our Fundraising event to cover the travel costs for two of our farmer delegates: September 10, 2015 (last week!). We feel pleased and we are eager to keep the movement growing. See you in Milan!

Ciao,
Camille,
Slow Food Youth Network Boricua (Puerto Rico)