Crónica Finca Tintillas
By Luz Cruz
“You have no idea what it’s like to wake up one morning and have everything thing you’ve worked for in the last 20 years gone.”
These are the words of Carlos Lago, owner of Finca Tintilla. Carlos and his wife Tita bought this farm in Guayama shortly after hurricane George struck the island, the condition of the farm that morning after hurricane Maria was reminiscent of what Finca Tintillas looked like when they first bought it. A farm that boasted 1,200 different species of fruit trees both endemic to Puerto Rico and not, lost the majority of that over the course of 24 hrs.
In the 4 days we were on the farm 5 Individuals visiting from Buffalo Mountain Coop in Vermont (Frank, Loui, Annie, Manuel, Sulien) , 1 from Boston on his second brigade (Kenneth) and 3 people who live in Puerto Rico ( George, Adnelly, and myself) all got together to clear tall grass, cut down branches, move fallen trees and re-plant trees.
“The work you did in 4 days would’ve taken me 3 months to do alone.”
Whenever I am on a brigade I am always surprised at how much work we get done, collective power is called to farms when these brigades happen and the magic that occurs on them sometimes brings me to tears. This brigade in particular for me was moving and it is hard to pinpoint why, perhaps it’s because I spent so much time with Carlos and got to hear the story of his struggle, it’s the story of many in the rural parts of the island and it’s the story so often forgotten when the focus is consistently brought to metropolitan areas and the citizens affected there.
Carlos Lago is the man in the neighborhood everyone calls when they have a problem, his well was turned into a community well after the hurricane and became the person providing water for his community.
With Carlos it isn’t just that he is just helpful, or a leader in his community, it’s that he isn’t afraid to do what is right despite bureaucracy trying to impede him. It’s that when the natural resources office paid him a visit as he was giving a neighbor water and told him that is it was illegal to do so, Carlos took out his permit and read him the line that states “incase of a fire or natural disaster this well turns into a community well.”. It’s that despite having been knocked down, having been forced to start a new he is still here ready to fight working along each individual volunteering at the age of 74. That is how strong his belief in agriculture, food sovereignty and environmental justice is.
As I write this teary eyed, my heart is full, my body tired and I am happy and proud. I feel as though my words can’t truly convey the beauty of Carlos and his wife, their unconditional generosity and the mutual appreciation between the brigade volunteers and him.
This is the magic we create on brigades.