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Puerto Rico's Eco-Farmers Go Back To The Land / by Maria Hinojosa | December 27, 2013

Puerto Rico’s Eco-Farmers Go Back To The Land

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_new headshotMarlon 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.












We honor civility here at Latino USA. Keep your comments constructive and respectful of everyone's opinions.
Thank you.

Lourdes says:

I live in Florida and I have a few acres. I would love for ppl to come her and help/show us how to begin cultivating our land… What I understand, the previous owner grew crop on this land. Are you willing to come and assist us in getting a good crop going?

With warm regards,
aka Lourdes

David Nieves says:

One of my Fathers laments while he sat by his living room window. There were empty lots visible and the site of the lots
created an urge for planting. “What I would give to be able to plant some Vegetables in that lot.” At 79 he still got around
albeit on a Scooter. He would recite the list and order of how to Plant. Some Plants grew better close and others didn’t.
He grew up in Moca, Puerto Rico barrio Vola Dora. He seemed puzzled by lots being empty. Urban renewal ad created these
lots. “If they don’t build anything put them to good use, those lots been there for 40 yrs!” It was always with him in his thinking
his in soul. He lived 51 years in New York City and had not planted in all those years.

“Aibonito” comes from the Taíno name of the area, “jatibonuco,” which means “River of the Night.” The similarity with the words “ay” and “bonito” in Spanish is unrelated and accidental, and the phrase “Ay, bonito” does not exist nor does it have a real meaning in Spanish, as the conjunction “ay” in Spanish expresses pain or dismay. Thus, claiming that “Aibonito” comes from “¡Ay, bonito!” is claiming that the name means “Ouch, beautiful!” or “Alas, beautiful!” (Rather funny 😉 ). ¡Gotitas del saber! Saludos, LanguageDivas

Raul Colon says:

This is awesome! I am glad you put the spotlight on what Daniella from Siembra Tres Vidas, Tara at Departamento de la Comida, and the folks at Boricua.

A few years ago we started a blog talking about and hispanic/latino Vegan and vegetarians and living on the Island in just a few years we have seen big change. As a blogger trying to spread the word from my perspective it really makes me happy that the spotlight has been put on these great talents of the island.

Isabel B. says:

Not only in the mountains, but also in the city. I and many other young people I know (aged 25-40) grow in our balconies, rooftops and backyards. Numerous poor urban communities are invading abandoned lots and growing food in them.

Gerardo says:

Escuchar esto, es el mejor regalo de navidad. Esta es la verdadera revolucion, la que cualquier persona puede hacer en un país colonizado. Esto es totalmente inclusivo, bravo, gravísimo !!!

Ruth Santiago says:

Awesome..ECO farming will revolucionate Puerto Rico’s economy I new my Jibaros would come back with pride and the power to grown and educate beyong the miths and tabos…..times are changing and this is good. Ones more I have a reason to be a proud Puertorican…..