Resilience, Recovery, and Resistance in Puerto Rico

is a struggle for life itself”

When Hurricane María hit Puerto Rico, Organización Boricuá was ready to deploy one of its key tools for building food sovereignty: support brigades.The brigades use a model of collective work to develop agroecological food production at farms, schools, community gardens, and other spaces around Puerto Rico. And in the wake of Hurricane María’s devastation, they help producers rebuild. The three-decade-old organization, made up of a network of farmers, farmworkers, and activists, promotes as a foundation for food sovereignty in the archipelago.

“We believe that the struggle for food sovereignty must be based in collective processes,” Organización Boricuá’s Jesus Vázquez said during the US Food Sovereignty Alliance Assembly in Bellingham, Washington, in October 2018. “We move from farm to farm, plot to plot, community garden to community garden creating a support network for agricultural work,” Jesus explained, describing the mutual support model. “At the same time, we are also training ourselves on the farms and protecting the water, defending the land, and defending the rights of those who work the land.”

Another part of Organización Boricuá’s work involves teaching agroecology to children through a school agriculture and environment program. Dalma Cartagena has been working with children to produce organic and agroecological food at schools for three decades. “For me, the most important are the skills in producing healthy food that the children learn and will be able to use in the future,” Dalma said. “And they have learned that what we do for our families and for our community also benefits our country and our entire planet Earth.” Organización Boricua received the USFSA’s 2018 Food Sovereignty Prize for its work promoting food sovereignty and agroecology through support brigades. “We say that the struggle for food sovereignty is a struggle for life itself,” Jesus said. “In the end, it’s about ensuring that food and the food system are in the hands of people, not corporations.”

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