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This week, El Nuevo Dia (San Juan, PR) profiled two women in Puerto Rico who have ventured into farming. The first one is Isabel Nieves Lugo, whose 20,000 hens sustain her egg farm, Hacienda Labranza, in Camuy, PR. The owner actually has a degree in advertising and public relations and worked for eight years in banking. She quit working to raise a family and later decided she wanted to own her own business. With support from her family, she bought an egg farm two years ago and is making a go of it. She went back to school to learn aviculture and has even taken welding classes so she can fix her own equipment or “at least know whether it was fixed properly.”  The newspaper reported that after some technological upgrades, Nieves Lugo’s farm produced eggs for three local brands and made $200,000 in 2009. She plans to produce her own egg brand, Huevos Perla del Caribe in the near future.

Another farmer profiled in the story is Wildairy Bermudez Gonzalez, a 22-year-old student at University of Puerto Rico, Utuado campus. She obtained a loan from the U.S. Farm Service to start a vegetable farm in mountainous Utuado, where she grew up. After a year of applying for the loan and submitting documents, she was awarded a $125,000 loan with which she purchased the land. At the end October she expects to harvest the first crop of peppers, and in November the first crop of beans. She plans to start producing lettuce in two new hydroponic  systems before the end of the year. She employs five people in her farm, who joined her as part of a training program for unemployed workers.

If it’s true that Caribbean economies suffer from what Edouard Glissant (in Le Discours Antillais) calls “overstimulated consumption and annihilated production,” these two entrepreneurs bravely defy that fate. They should be commended and supported for their contribution to their communities and to the island’s economy. I’m certainly inspired by their stories. Many of us islanders used to be farmers just three or four generations ago. Maybe I don’t have to give up my dream (that elusive dream of The Return) of owning a hill in Lares, PR, and growing organic produce in the same Barrio Mirasoles where my greatgrandfather administered a coffee farm many years ago.

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