In Puerto Rico, the word jíbaro brings to mind a classic image: a rural peasant working his land, wearing a straw hat and overalls. Machete in one hand, plantains in the other. But it also become a derogatory term, signifying backwardness. You hear it all the time – “Don’t be a jíbaro, don’t be stupid.”
However, a new generation of eco-farmers in Puerto Rico are working to bring pride back to the jíbaro lifestyle. Young people all over Puerto Rico are heading back to the land and starting organic farms up in the mountains, growing everything from coffee to kale. The island has fertile soils and a year-round growing season, yet Over 85% of Puerto Rico’s food is imported. This new generation of hipster jíbaros are working the change that, by promoting organic agriculture and starting alternative businesses serving healthy good. At the same time, they’re trying to figure out how sustainable farming can provide solutions to tough problems facing Puerto Rico today, from obesity to food security.
This story is part of the RadioNature series which explores the ways Latinos connect with nature. RadioNature is supported by the REI Foundation.
Marlon Bishop is a radio producer, writer, and reporter based in New York. His work is focused on music, Latin America, New York City and the arts, and has appeared in several public radio outlets such as WNYC News,Studio 360, The World and NPR News. He is an Associate Producer at Afropop Worldwide and a staff writer forMTV Iggy.