Growth, seed by seed, in Puerto Rico

Farmers in Puerto Rico.
August 28, 2023
by Joel Gonzalez

Desde mi Huerto, a seed bank located in the north-western region of Puerto Rico, is aiming to promote the growth of organic crops throughout the Caribbean by producing and distributing high-quality seeds. President of Desde mi Huerto, Raul Rosado, believes that seeds are the beginning of life, stating that "Our food comes from seeds, so seeds are the main thing in our lives."

For many generations, Puerto Rican farmers would save their seeds year after year, adapting them to withstand the strong climates of the land. However, due to social and economic changes, many fields were abandoned, and numerous seeds adapted to Puerto Rico's climate have been lost, leaving many farmers without seeds that are resistant to Puerto Rico's climate. Salvador Coleman, coordinator of agroecology at Para la Naturaleza, states that

"In Puerto Rico, for centuries, we developed a high variety of seeds that were very well adapted to our territory. But in the last 60 to 70 years, we’ve been losing that gift and resource for farming."

This has resulted in more than 85% of food and seeds being imported into Puerto Rico.

Desde mi Huerto is dedicated to producing, packaging, and distributing USDA Organic certified ecological seeds that are adapted to Puerto Rico's climate. Raul Rosado explains, "Our goal is to produce organic seeds in this climate that grow well in Puerto Rico and make them available for people." 

Desde mi Huerto is working towards providing Puerto Rico with the tools to achieve its food sovereignty through their seed bank. Their commitment is to keep native tropical seeds and the knowledge of ecological farming alive and sustainably developing within the island. 

Much of this work has been supported through partnership with Banco de Alimentos de Puerto Rico. As the only food bank in Puerto Rico, Banco de Alimentos addresses the issue of food insecurity both directly and through its partnerships. Partnerships with organizations like Desde me Huerto enable Banco de Alimentos to extend its reach to address the issue of food insecurity. 

“The Puerto Rican community has one of the highest food insecurity levels in the United States” said President and CEO of Banco de Alimentos, Mari Jo Laborde.“Our food bank has a primary duty, to make sure that people in need have access to nutritious food on a consistent basis—that’s what food security is all about” she added. 

Through this relationship with Banco de Alimentos as well as partnership with Feeding America, and support of the Food Security Equity Impact Fund, Desde mi Huerto has been able to purchase equipment and machinery to expedite their work and help them continue to serve the farmers, workers, and ultimately the people of Puerto Rico.
Raul Rosado expresses his hope for the people of Puerto Rico due to the sustainability being created by the seed bank. He speaks passionately about the power of seeds and the impact they have on the future, stating, "We are changing the way Puerto Rico sees food and sees agriculture because seeds are always going to be the future of our people and our life."

The Food Security Equity Impact Fund has helped Desde mi Huerto grow their farm by providing better tools, and Raul Rosado emphasizes that "That earning for us is also an earning for the people because we are able to have better seeds for them."

President and CEO of El Banco de Alimentos, Mari Jo Laborde believes "That's where hunger really ends. When you're providing our neighbors with the tools to be self-sufficient."  

The Feeding America network invests in innovative solutions to increase equitable access to food, and partners with local communities to address hunger and its root causes in the unique context of their own needs and priorities.