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As many already know we started reaching out to this coop in Puerto Rico right after hurricane María. I knew this coop because friends had invited to speak about Buffalo Mountain to the Madre Tierra board in 2006. This was an informal talk facilitated by friends that thought it would be a good idea for the coop in PR to hear from a Puerto Rican woman living in VT and working at the coop. I was also already traveling in the summer to study in Puerto Rico and this helped.
Our friends Carlos Lago and Justina Diáz Bisbal from Finca Tintillo were the first ones to host our Vt. work brigade. They are still deeply thankful for the help they receive from the delegation.Justina has often shared and I believe will continue to share how the help came at a very crucial time when the devastation from the hurricane, the lack of electricity and basic needs where a big burden to their morale. Our work clearing the trees that had fallen on their fruit trees allowed them to nourish the remains back to life.
Yes, the fruit trees started to grow new shoots again and Justina reports a bumping crop of fruit which that are bringing to the market they have organized in the Salinas, near their home.
The idea of starting a farmer’s market closer to where they live originated from their commitment to agriculture and helping other farmers and growers. The first market was held at their farm where they once more held the Feria del libro usado/ The used Book Fair, which they had been holding for the last seventeen years.
As many of the projects that Justina and Carlos support the agromercado continues to attract more farmers and it is now held in the town with the help of some city officials. Carlos is still a member of the Cooperativa Orgánica Madre Tierra and continues to participate in the markets also. The market is a gathering and place to exchange good and information as well as a place to learn. They host different presentations on topics of interest to the growers to foment sustainable practices and self care. The organizing work of Carlos and Justina keeps them busy as they continue to tend the their fruit trees while involved in multiple projects.
Here is a link to an article in the local paper about the new farmer’s market that Carlos and Justina spearheaded and continue to support. Take a minute and look at the beautiful photo of our friends. https://www.periodicolaperla.com/nace-en-salinas-el-agromercado-caribe/
One amazing aspect of Cooperativa Madre Tierra is that they are connected and supporting growers and farmers throughout Puerto Rico and not limited to the metro area.
Mayra, our first contact and amazing host, has also been busy with an agricultural project in the town of Río Piedras. She is in charge of a community garden started by the University of Puerto Rico.
Both of these endeavours are examples of the love and care for the land and for one another that our Sister Coop members continue to cherish and foster. The current president of Cooperativa Orgánica Madre Tierra is Marcelino Torres. I have been in conversation with Marcelino about our Sister Coop relationship and our willingness to help other coops. From our fundraising efforts we have been able to contribute with labor and funds which were a direct help Finca Tintillo and the market Madre Tierra is held the first, third and fifth Sunday of the month. Through the rounding up at the register, individual donations and the Plant Sale, we have continued to fundraise for the Sister Coop. There is not a shortage of projects by which to help our sister coop. As their board develops a mechanism to decide and prioritize which project will be our next focus we will continue fundraising and committed to support people’s’ efforts to grow food sustainably and to regain connection with the land. Follow this link to read about the sister coop and see what they have been up to these days. https://www.facebook.com/CoopOrganicaMadreTierra/
I also want to remind you, as things start coming up in your gardens about of the Plant Sale we usually hold end of May or early June.