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  • Writer's pictureJulie Quiroz

Stirring It Up

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

3.21.23 New Moon

Food changes into blood, blood into cells,

cells change into energy which changes up into life . . . food is life.

–Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor, culinary griot

This beautiful food quote comes from Rethinking Food Culture Might Save Us, the article I had the pleasure of co-authoring last year with my friends at Food Culture Collective. As often happens, friendships and storytelling whooshed me in the direction I needed to go.

Needed, and need, because, while a sprout lifting its head from the soil brings me to tears, and I once wrote a poem about a cucumber in my container garden, my food growing skills remain emergent. But, in loving collaboration with others who know more than I do, I offered words out into the universe – a magic recipe for stirring up my life.

A year later I met Susimar Gonzalez Martinez as we sat outside in a circle of women in my new hometown of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, talking about finding our way in a world so often bent on harming us. I loved everyone in the circle, and the circle’s existence. Of the many pathways that grew from that day, my collaboration with Susi was one.

In November, drinking tea in Moca, on the porch of Susi’s farm (united by our mutual friend and quietly powerful leader Adela Nieves Martinez) I committed myself and New Moon to thought partnership, strategy development, and resources to support Susi’s already established leadership in growing ancestral agricultural wisdom and practices in Puerto Rico. Born in Santurce to a mother of Spanish descent and a father of African descent, Susi first learned ancestral agriculture farming practices from her grandfather. In Susi’s words (translated from Spanish), “From its tubers (yucca, yam, sweet potato) to its weeds (cundeamor, linden, rompesaraguey), agriculture is about connecting in the synchronicity of the trees with the bushes, the herbs, and the environment.”

Last month, we launched the pilot of the program De La Tierra a La Cosecha (From Land to Harvest), led by Susi, based on her knowledge, skill, and wisdom. Tierra a la Cosecha is a free 4 month long farm-based experiential learning program for young Puerto Rican farmers to learn about ancestrally based agricultural knowledge and practices. The 4 weekend-long farm sessions include information and hands-on experience with: Land & Soil, Sowing (including a visit with a local elder with deep ancestral agricultural wisdom), and Native Plants of Puerto Rico. We invite participants to camp on the farm for the weekend, and we make home cooked meals during their stay. Through De la Tierra a La Cosecha we hope to contribute to a large, powerfully interconnected next generation of Puerto Rican farmers who steward the land with ancestral practices and reverence.

I felt honored to hold down two jobs in that first session of De la Tierra a la Cosecha: 1) I helped prepare food and space for the 10 young Puerto Rican farmers who had come to learn from Susi, and 2) I listened, watched, and captured the emerging story through photographs, videos, and notes.

Sleeping outside that night, as Jupiter and Venus made a path toward the new moon over my head, peaceful joy flowed through my body. I smiled in the dark, knowing that the magic recipe was stirring up my life again.

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