The Paloma del Carmen Fund has donated and delivered $127,629 worth of materials to 49 farmers across Puerto Rico as of May 2018.
On September 20, 2017, our beloved Puerto Rico suffered a natural catastrophe that plunged the island into a humanitarian and environmental crisis that it will be grappling with for decades to come.
Hurricane Maria, the worst storm to hit Puerto Rico in 80 years, wiped out the island's electrical grid, water purification systems, cell towers, healthcare system, and agricultural industry. Two hundred thousand of the island's citizens have been displaced, and the ones that remain are dealing with food and clean water shortages, as well as power outages, on a daily basis. The latest reports estimate $100 billion in damages and a heartbreaking death toll of over 4,000.
As natives of Puerto Rico with family still living on the island, we felt compelled to provide immediate but also sustainable aid. In other words, we wanted to do more than give people a handout — we wanted to give them back their livelihoods. So we decided that our mission would be to empower Puerto Rico's new wave of farmers who are dedicated to the island's local food movement.
Thankfully, our family, friends, and colleagues generously answered our call for donations, and the Paloma del Carmen Fund (PDCF) was born. We spread the word about our non-profit to farmers in Puerto Rico through Facebook and Informe Agricola, a local industry news organization. Our application went live on January 23, 2018, and we began issuing awards on February 15, 2018.
In just four months, we have been able to help a total of 49 farmers in 29 different municipalities across Puerto Rico. Most of these farmers planted their crops in March and expect their first harvests in October, which will provide much needed food for the island.
We are delighted that PDCF has been able to award a total of $127,629 worth of materials, helping farmers replant their crops and reconstruct their greenhouses, irrigation systems, covered working areas, and more. To ensure that awarded funds remain in the Puerto Rico economy and create a multiplier effect, we purchase needed materials directly from local suppliers, which are then delivered to the farmers.
In March, we traveled to Puerto Rico on our second post-Maria visit to make a personal connection with and check in on the progress of four farmers we've assisted. Dr. Viviana Medina, our agricultural science partner, and our families joined us on the farm tours.
Daniella Rodríguez Besosa
Daniella is the co-owner of Seimbra Tres Vidas, a 6-acre farm located in the municipality of Aibonito in the Central Region of Puerto Rico. Daniella grows 88 varieties of vegetables, fruits, and flowers. She also raises laying hens.
José Medina Vazquez
José is the owner of Hacienda Patricia, a 415-acre cattle ranch located in the municipality of Yabucoa in the East Region of Puerto Rico.
Samuel Morales Cotto
Samuel is the owner of Finca Don Cotto, a 6.5-acre farm located in the municipality of Aguas Buenas in the Central Region of Puerto Rico. Samuel grows a variety of vegetables and fruits, including arugula, avocados, bananas, carrots, ginger, kale, lettuce, malanga, radishes, tomatoes, and turnips.
Ariel Valle Matos
Ariel is the owner of Surcos De La Montaña, an 18-acre farm located in the municipality of Aibonito in the Central Region of Puerto Rico. Ariel grows arugula, basil, beans, carrots, eggplant, green peppers, malanga, morrones, recao, strawberries, sweet peppers, and tomatoes.