Planting the Seeds for Recovery in Puerto Rico


Full Article from can be found here: Planting the seeds of recovery in Puerto Rico through reforestation, sustainable farming

Saving Puerto Rico with Seeds

Click photo to be taken to the article.


Before and After Maria Aerial Views

Gorgeous Collection of Vintage Photographs from the 1940s-1960s

Friends of Eldo Neufeld (photographer) outside rural home. Taken 1946-48.
Friends of Eldo Neufeld (photographer) outside rural home. Taken 1946-48.

Whilst doing some research one night I stumbled upon this amazing flickr account run by Tom Lehman. Amazing because Mr. Lehman collected thousands of vintage slides, cleaned, scanned, edited, identified and attributed each one to their individual photographer. And after that monumental task was completed, he was kind enough to upload them for everyone to see, enjoy and use free of charge. (As long as it’s not for monetary gain)

Most of the photos are of Puerto Rico but there are some other countries among the collection as well. He also has a blog which explains why and how these photographs came to light.

Another useful site is “Archivo Historico y Fotografico de Puerto Rico” which has many fascinating photographs and ephemera as well. Stop by and check them out, as you can see from the examples here, they are really quite remarkable.

The photos I picked to showcase here are just a small sampling and most have been edited to some degree. I hope you will stop by Tom’s site to view the rest and perhaps give him a hand with the identification process.

burning sugar cane
Burning Sugar Cane Field – !960 Taken by Elmer Weaver
Cayey in Toita - apr 60 Puerto Ricotwo
Iglesia Bautista in Toita, Cayey, PR. 1960 – Taken by Elmer Weaver (Still standing, you can see an image on Google Maps)
Political Party Club - 1960 (City Unknown)
Political Party Club – 1960 (City Unknown) Taken by Elmer Weaver.
DeSoto at Kofresi Line Inc., Ponce-San Juan. Between 1948 -1951.
DeSoto at Kofresi Line Inc., Ponce-San Juan. Between 1948 -1951. Taken by John Brandeberry
Funeral Coach 1948
Funeral Coach 1948 – Taken by Esther Rinner
Fisherman in Arroyo - April 1948
Fisherman in Arroyo – April 1948 – Taken by Esther Rinner
Oxen taking water to steam engine .1947-48 - Taken by Esther Rinner
Oxen taking water to steam engine .1947-48 – Taken by Esther Rinner
Between Comerio and Barranquitas. 1960-61
Between Comerio and Barranquitas. 1960-61 Taken by Patricia Santiago.
"Little girl that brought us oranges" - March 1948. Photo by Dale Roesch
“Little girl that brought us oranges” – March 1948. Photo by Dale Roesch
Fotographia Nunez, booth in Lares plaza. July 10, 1955 Taken by Lee Smith
Fotographia Nunez, booth in Lares plaza. July 10, 1955 – Taken by Lee Smith
Rio Piedras street scene - January 1960 - Taken by Elmer Weaver
Rio Piedras street scene – January 1960 Taken by Elmer Weaver

Coffee in Puerto Rico | The Best Coffee Tours, Museums & Festivals on the Island


Good coffee is literally everywhere on the island. That little panadería around the corner, the hole-in-the-wall colmado or in your local placita.

But if you really want to learn more or taste some of the very best coffee on the island, I suggest a tour of one the many coffee farms. We’ve been to a few and have always enjoyed the experience.

Any day trip in PR is an adventure so planning ahead is imperative. Some of the farms I contacted for this post told me many visitors call the day of or before to make a visit. That just isn’t possible in many cases. Some of these farms are run by families who cannot have regularly scheduled visits due to their small size. They are more than happy to show visitors around when they aren’t busy maintaining/running their business though.

The following offer Coffee Tours and/or lodging on working plantations. All of the businesses on this page offer 100% pure Puerto Rico grown coffee. Please see corresponding notes for each.

Sandra Farms | Adjuntas | Offers tours by appointment and sells coffee, chocolate and cigars. Call 787 409 8083 for reservations. Tours are any day of the week at 11am and  2pm, lasting approximately 2 hrs. Coffee & chocolate tasting at the end of the tour. $15 per person, children are free. Inquire for Senior Citizens discount. You can also email them to reserve a visit. A pdf map is available at request for clear directions.
Hacienda Tres Ángeles  | Adjuntas | Tours & Coffee Shop, visit their website or call 787 360 0019 for reservations. Tours are on Saturdays at 10 am, last 2 and a half hours and cost $15 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Adults enjoy a cup of hot coffee while children are served hot chocolate, both also enjoy a baked good.
Café de Puta Madre | Adjuntas | Offering free tours. This is small family operation, please call in advance at 787 436 2026 for reservations or message them on Facebook.
Hacienda Palma Escrita  Call Maria @ 787 210 8252 for reservations. $7 per person. Tour takes approximately an hour.
Hacienda San Pedro | Jayuya | Tours, Coffee Museum, Restaurant and Gift shop. Tours are available on Sat & Sun 12:30, 2pm and 4pm. $10 per person, children under 5 are free.  Tours last approximately 45 minutes. If your group is 12 persons or larger, please call ahead at 787 828 2083.
Hacienda Tres Picachos | Jayuya | Tours & Museum. Call 787 828 2121 for reservations, by appointment only. Tours are usually given on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and last 1 hour 15 min.  $10 per person, children under 12 are $7. On weekends they are open for breakfast at 9am if you would like to dine before your tour.
Café Nativo | Jayuya | Call 787 315 7881 for reservations. Open Saturdays 8:30-1:30, $10 per person and lasts approximately an hour and twenty minutes.
Hacienda Gripiñas | Jayuya | Hotel & Restaurant on working plantation, tours were not offered at the time of this post, visit their website for details. 787 828 1717
Gran Batey  | Utuado | Call 787 636 5442 for reservations.
Hacienda Buena Vista  | Ponce | Restored Historical Site that is part of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, call 787 722 5882 for reservations. Tours are $13.38 per person, Wed-Sundays, English speaking tours are at 12pm. Tours last an hour and a half.
Hacienda Pomarrosa | Ponce | Lodging, Tour and tastings offered, call 787 844 3541 for reservations. Tue-Sat 11am daily, $20 pp. To skip a call, email the day you would like to visit, number of persons and where you are driving from for clear directions. GPS is not accurate according to the company. Tour lasts two hours.
Café Lucero | Ponce | Tours available by appointment, call 787 848 8387 for reservations. 6 person minimum, $18.95 per person, $15.95 for children 10 and under, tour lasts 2 hours. Leaves between 10-10:30am on a day determined by reservation. At the end of the tour, patrons enjoy a cup of coffee, a bottle of water and a muffin or cookie.
Hacienda Muñoz  | San Lorenzo | Tour, Restaurant and Coffee Bar, call 787 736 8427 for directions if needed, no reservations necessary. Wed-Sun 10am and 2pm $15 per person, $10 for Adults 62+ up. Tour lasts approximately an hour.
Café Lareño | Lares | Tours and coffee shop, call 787 897 7762 for reservations. Tours are on the following days and last approximately an hour: Tue-Thur 10am & 1pm. Sat & Sun 11am, 12:30, 2pm, & 4pm. $8 per person, children under 5 are free, children 6+ up are $6.
Hacienda Mis Abuelos | Mayaguez | Tours are free and available Mon-Friday, call 787 265 2521 to confirm your group.
Café el Mañanero | Maricao | Offers tours, message them on Facebook for details. Pricing depends on group size but usually around $10 pp. Tour lasts approximately 2.5 hours and are usually on Sat/Sun. If you prefer to call, their number is 787 312 7045.
Hacienda El Jibarito | San Sebastian | Historic Plantation operating solely as a Parador . Call 787 244 3399 for reservations at their inn.

Some of the best Cafés on the island. If you have one you’d like to share, please let me know in the comments.
Cuatros Sombras  | Viejo San Juan
Hacienda Isabel | Viejo San Juan
Café Finca Cialitos  | Viejo San Juan
Café Poético | Viejo San Juan
Don Ruiz Cafe & Museum  | Viejo San Juan
Puerto Rico’s Café Cola’o  | Viejo San Juan
Café Cibales  | San Juan
Gustos Coffee Company  | San Juan x2
Caficultura | San Juan
Hacienda San Pedro | Santurce & Hato Rey
Café con Cé | Santurce
Museo del Café Cafe & Museum | Ciales
Café Nativo | Jayuya
El Loveshack | Mayaguez
Friends Cafe | Mayaguez

Coffee Festivals | Festival del Café

Fiesta Del Café | Jayuya, PR | February
Fiesta del Acabe del Cafe | Maricao, PR | February
Festival Nacional Del Café | Yauco, PR | March
Coffee & Chocolate Expo | Centro de Convenciones de Puerto Rico San Juan, PR | September 23/24, 2017

Café Gran Batey in Utuado

A few weeks ago we paid a visit to the Café Gran Batey in Utuado, PR, a really easy find off of road 111. Ideally you could visit here and then head over to the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park, a short drive down the same road and then finish everything off with some ice cream in Lares.

We arrived pretty late in the afternoon, thanks to getting lost on the way to the Agricultores Unidos del Centro (AUC) earlier. It looked like we had missed the boat on buying a couple of bags of coffee but after gawking at the geese and petting a friendly cat we were soon greeted by a wonderful lady by the name of Lotty. After introductions and telling her a little bit about ourselves she invited us inside, along with her adorable grand daughter.

Soon, her husband Bernardo joined us and we were having a great time discussing their extensive knowledge of coffee production, the history of the farm and each others work and family life. During our chat, we were graciously offered a cup of coffee and fell in love with it instantly.  Let’s just say I have never been a coffee person but I was converted that day.

Since it was getting a little late in the day, we said our goodbyes and said we would be back for an “official tour” another time. Next time they’ll be first on our weekend list so we have lots of leisurely time to soak it all in.

Btw, check out the sweet vintage Land Rover and no, he’s not selling. :)

Agricultores Unidos del Centro, Utuado

Due to a gardening obsession, I was able to see an abandoned cigar factory and a lot of bats. Aka, our trip to the Agricultores Unidos del Centro (AUC) in Utuado.

I have been searching for compost for ages now, months and months and months. Why do I need compost when the island is full of great soil? Because I am just a lowly container gardener for now, a gardener that MUST plant something or she goes nutty. After watching hours and hours of videos on Puerto Rico farms and reading about the slow and steady food movement taking hold here I finally got in contact with someone who could “set me up”. This turned out to be a farmers co-op in Utuado at the AUC.

As some of you may know, maps are useless in Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico laughs at your GPS. Not only that, directions include statements such as “turn right after the cemetery, then you’ll see a big yellow building, keep going until you get to a crossroads with a broken lamp pole…”

As usual though I had convinced myself we could find the people who possessed my precious compost without asking for any help this time. After all I had my NEW map, produced by the DTOP of all people! Surely, they know what is what. Right?

So…after asking 3 people (all who said the co-op was next to “the old cigar factory”) and about 30 minutes making wrong turns we finally found it. Clearly marked at the entrance, yay!

There are several vendors at this co-op, which frankly, was a bonus because no one ever mentioned it. I was under the impression this was solely shared farm land and not an outdoor market as well. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least, they even had adorable puppies for an adoption fee.

We were given permission to check out the grounds on foot after we collected several bags of compost. The huge tree you see houses a metal hive for bees in the area, they were incredibly active so this is as close as I was willing to get. Acres upon acres of banana trees, pepper plants, all the staples of Puerto Rican agriculture.

Most of the vendors had packed up by the time our walk was done so we hurried over to the cigar factory before the gates were locked.

The cigar factory mostly houses several hundred (if not thousands) of bats now but you can evidently see this must have been one beauty in its heyday. Steve, always fascinated by architecture, wished for a few million dollars to restore it to its former glory. I had my doubts that decades of bat guano could ever really be adequately removed.

Chasing Windmills

A few weeks ago, Steve and I went on a day trip observing locations for a “Don Quixote” animation he is working on. Naturally, this scouting trip consisted of visiting the few windmill farms on the island as well as one historical windmill site. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a good photo of the historical windmill in Guayama since it was closed for restorations.

We had a great time meandering through Santa Isabel’s windmill farm with its various thriving crops such as corn, mangoes and papaya. The windmills are huge and incredibly intimidating when standing just within 100 yards but equally beautiful and alluring with their tapered blades powerfully whooshing overhead.

After Santa Isabel it was a long and winding road through many congested towns of people celebrating “Eugenio Maria de Hostos”. What we thought would take us 90 minutes, in fact took us almost twice as long to arrive in Punta Lima where the final modern windmill farm was located. It wasn’t nearly as accessible as the one prior and is situated within the landscape so awkwardly it was no longer a viable choice.

It was all worth it though to see a completely different side of the island, at various points we felt like we were in another world. It reminded us a lot of the Sonoma Valley in California, the landscape and the atmosphere were very pristine, serene and breath-taking at many points.