In September 2017, a powerful Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds, struck Puerto Rico full force. Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million residents have suffered intensely as a result of the ensuing humanitarian and environmental justice disaster. Almost four months later, about 40 percent of residents are still without electricity.
In response to this emergency, Three Part Harmony Farm has joined a national campaign called Our Power Puerto Rico, which was launched by the Climate Justice Alliance and pursues the objective of rebuilding Puerto Rico with a regenerative economy. The goal is that Puerto Rico can recover through a just transition, centered on food sovereignty, renewable energy, a green economy and Puerto Rico’s self sufficiency.
Puerto Rico has rich soil, abundant water and a 12-month growing season. For hundreds of years, the island’s economy was based on agriculture, Puerto Rico’s industrialization after World War II and neoliberal globalization led to a collapse of agricultural production, causing Puerto Ricans to import about 85 percent of their food.
Before the hurricane, the Puerto Rican movement for food sovereignty was growing with scores of young people returning to the land, struggling to establish new forms of production. Small-scale farmers, who were hit the hardest by the hurricane, had generated hope for an agricultural rebirth amid a decade-long recession.
In the midst of this crisis, social movements in rural and urban communities are organizing in brigades to rescue what is left of Puerto Rican agriculture. Gail Taylor of Three Part Harmony Farm is going as part of the Black Dirt Farm Collective to Puerto Rico on January 20, 2019 to join the First Food Sovereignty Brigade. The delegation will meet with agro-ecologists and members of the labor movement on the island who are making sure local communities in Puerto Rico take charge of their own recovery. As part of farmer-to-farmer solidarity, Gail will deliver hands on support for the work of the Boricuá Organization for Ecologic Agriculture of Puerto Rico, a 28-year old farmer-led organization dedicated to rebuilding the island’s food sovereignty and supporting farmers. These farmers and their work represent a critical piece of food production, health and livelihood in Puerto Rico.
Three Part Harmony Farm stands with the farmers of Puerto Rico, who work for a just recovery and a just transition towards a sustainable future for Puerto Rico. Just Recovery is a visionary framework promoted by the environmental justice and labor communities to transition and secure regenerative economies that can create jobs, promote food sovereignty, protect the environment, and lead to resilient communities. Learn more about the vision for a Just Recovery in this op-ed by Elizabeth Yeampierre and Naomi Klein.