Early one Sunday morning in August, as the sun climbs to a blaze in the aqua sky, an organic market unfolds across the park Placita Roosevelt in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Vendors and farmers from all over the island gather to share produce, expertise, and services. Chicks for sale cheep sleepily in their corner of the plaza, nestled in cages adorned with informational pamphlets on chicken care. Tabletops pop with piles of organic green beans, purple beets, and red chili peppers.
This is the largest organic market in Puerto Rico, created by the Cooperativa Orgánica Madre Tierra (The Organic Mother Earth Cooperative), a worker-owned social enterprise based in the island’s capital city. Every vendor in this plaza, and most of the customers, are members of the cooperative.
In the wake of the massive blows delivered by last year’s hurricanes, Irma and Maria, the latter of which killed an estimated 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, the market—and the coop—provided some of the crucial moral and financial support that small organic farmers so desperately needed. In the process, it created one model of how Puerto Ricans can move forward into a future that will likely see destructiv... Read more