Nuestras Raices (meaning "Our Roots") is a grassroots organization that promotes economic, human and community development through urban agriculture here. It is just one of many organizations supported and funded by the Food Industry Crusade Against Hunger, the food industry's Washington-based organization dedicated to alleviating hunger in the United States and worldwide.
Most recently, FICAH partnered with Rodale Press, Emmaus, Pa., to build a greenhouse in Nuestras Raices' agricultural center. Thanks to FICAH's partnership with Rodale Press, Nuestras Raices and its participants now have a year-round growing environment. Nuestras Raices established and supports a network of six community gardens with 90 families participating. The gardens occupy former vacant lots and participants work to plant, harvest, and distribute fresh organic produce each year. Excess produce is sold at a local farmers' market that provides participants with a small income, and valuable business skills. There are also two youth gardens within each of the community gardens where children plant and maintain flowers, vegetables and herb plots. Elderly community gardeners who pass on their knowledge about planting and the culture of rural Puerto Rico teach the children.
These gardens have changed the urban environment by providing low-income residents with inexpensive and nutritious food, while becoming a central place where elders, children and families can work together to improve their community.
Nuestras Raices also sponsors educational workshops that address health issues, organic gardening techniques, leadership and the environment, as well as field trips to botanical gardens and local farms. Workshops are held in the Centro Agricola, an abandoned building that is under renovation and houses the Rodale Press-funded greenhouse, office space, commercial kitchen, small restaurant and gardening library. Through grassroots community development, Nuestras Raices grows gardens, while it "grows" lives, thanks to FICAH's participation. See more on following pages.
The Food Industry Crusade Against Hunger is the food industry's own non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of alleviating hunger and malnutrition by fostering long-term, self-help solutions. FICAH receives funding from food-industry companies, individuals and supermarket shoppers through FICAH's Food For All program. FICAH-sponsored programs have assisted millions of people in the United States and some 65 other nations.