Please Contribute to Panoramic Fruit's GoFundMe & Help Me Save the Farm
For the past 26 years, I have owned and operated an exotic fruit farm in western Puerto Rico, employing six island residents and supplying fruit to the island as well as the mainland. Hurricane Maria hit my farm and so many others in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, wiping out half of my producing trees—and also my income from them. In December of 2017, I applied for help from the USDA and the PR Department of Agriculture and finished the last forms in September, 2018. Many months later, I did receive a check that will help immensely, gets me into 2020 and lets me buy replacement trees. I am looking for additional funds to save my farm in the years beyond this USDA grant and the year-round jobs of six people, enabling me to continue supporting agriculture and tree fruit production in an area that is physically and financially devastated, has few jobs and very little opportunity for relief. Building on what is left of the farm I would use these funds to get it back to its previous state or even expand if it is possible. This would enable me to provide additional tons of locally grown and nutritious fruit to hundreds of thousands of people each year in an area where most of the food is shipped in from off the island.
January 26, 2022
A lot has happened since I wrote the paragraph above. The coronavirus COVID-19 first surfaced at the end of 2019 and beginning in 2020 began its march around the world. Nothing has been the same since, our first global pandemic in a century. No one was ready for this on the international level and millions became ill and died. These many months later, virulence has waned a little, resistance to infections with or without vaccination have lowered mortality rates and there is a light at the end of this very long tunnel. It may reverberate for years, however.
My crew, my farm, my neighbors in Puerto Rico, have relied a lot on each other. Help from the outside is limited and the reasons are too numerous to spell out. But we are still in the game, trying to bring in thousands of replacement trees from parts of the world also hit by this pandemic. Harvests, reduced due to fewer trees, have been very good and much of it has been consumed inside Puerto Rico and not shipped out. If you want to play a role in our very slow but determined effort to replant the farm, see below.
I do not want to lose the people working for me who help me grow food for Puerto Ricans and people in the states. They are all needed in the years ahead as new trees come in and need to be planted and tended to. Hundreds of thousands of people have left Puerto Rico already. Many will return, but to what? I am hoping to make a minimum five-year commitment to the restoration of the farm, the replanting of thousands of lost trees, and the ongoing maintenance of an on-island grown food source—but I cannot afford to do this using only my savings. The funds acquired would go towards new trees, wages, and the tasks and supplies required to maintain this fruit farm in the middle of the jungle. I would make up the rest out of pocket.
I have never done this before. I've never asked for money since creating the farm 26 years ago. I've never asked people to support me financially but it's now or never. This is a farm I can only restore with your help. Over the last decade, I have given small tours of what this paradise came to be, and many were grateful to come back over and over. I would expand this in the years ahead and share it with contributors, allowing them to see what their gift of money grew into. Before Hurricane Maria, it was a splendid expanse of colors, sounds, and perfume smells of flowering trees and fruit. With your help, it can be heaven on earth again. Please take a look at this video, it was taken after the Hurricane Maria damage but still shows a beautiful are of rolling hills in the tropical jungle of Western Puerto Rico.
I am happy to say the USDA has come through with enough aid to get me into 2020. The surviving trees look great—there has been heavy rain and what is left of the farm looks very healthy. Thanks to all of you for what you have given. I am not giving up, and with help, I can rebuild this place. My thanks to all.