El Departamento de la Comidais creating support for sustainable food projects in Borikén (Puerto Rico).
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- An aromatic tree with properties that support our well-being. It is the key ingredient for Puerto Rican alcoholado, a refreshing and cleansing remedy that alleviates muscle pains, fever, and insect bites.
- Árbol aromático con propiedades que traen bienestar al cuerpo, desde dolores musculares, aliviar fiebre, tratar picadas de insectos, por algo es ingrediente principal de nuestro alcoholado, que nos refresca de cualquier situación o clima.
- Also known as Okra, this plant is native to Africa and thrives in Puerto Rico. It is one of the most diverse culinary plants in Puerto Rico, and is popular to stew, sautee, or snack on raw.
- Planta originalmente de África, vive contentísima en nuestras islas. Una de las plantas culinarias más diversas de nuestra cocina criolla, se mete dentro del caldo, el salteado, se come cruda, en ensalada, hasta sopas y salsas.
- These sweet fruits grow wild in Puerto Rico and are a summertime favorite. Their flavor ranges from tangy and tart to a smooth honey-like cream, depending on how ripe they are.
- Estas frutas dulces se consiguen por todas partes de las islas y son nuestra fruta favorita del verano. Su sabor, dependiendo de su madurez, varía de amargo a dulce, cremosa pulpa.
What is El Departamento de la Comida?Our Mission
El Departamento de la Comida is a non-profit, non-government collective for the advancement of sustainable, resilient, and regenerative food projects in Borikén (the indigenous Taíno name for Puerto Rico).
We want to live within a healthy, decolonized, regenerative, and just local food ecosystem in Borikén, for all. For us by us. We focus on decolonization through food, healing through land, and freedom through community.
Interdependence: We seek ways to support and collaborate with existing projects, rather than compete with them or reinvent the wheel.
Adaptation: The ‘model’ we take on has been, and always will be, determined by the needs of the ecosystem and the communities within it, making it anything but a stagnant or fixed structure.
Decentralization: We believe that it is essential to operate outside of existing hierarchies and silos to bring about equitable change. We are invested in relationship building and plural decision making.
Why we are using Patreon:We want to pay our people
Most grants only fund material costs and physical expenses, not compensation for labor. Because much of our work involves community organizing and services, we often find ourselves asking members of El Departamento and our collaborators to do these things for free. We continue this work because it is important, but working for free is not sustainable. The collective also has two full time co-directors, Tara and Kieran, who are passionate about and fully committed to food sovereignty and community organizing in Puerto Rico, working hundreds of hours since September 2018. We would like to expand our team in the near future!
We want to innovate
The work that we do has little precedent, which means much of our work is brainstorming, preparing and coordinating new models to address the complexities of Puerto Rico’s food system. However, because we are not "employees," we don't get paid to think or meet with others. Additionally, we travel often to visit and organize with other farm projects or to attend conferences and events, which is costly but crucial in learning, sharing our work and identifying new collaborative relationships.
We want you to be a part of this
We are truly interested in being a decentralized collective that is run by-and-for people. This is an invitation to become a part of the work. Your contribution helps to ensure the continuation of meaningful food sovereignty work and the growth of our collective as well as the larger network of grassroots projects in Puerto Rico. Your support means that we will be able to spend fewer hours writing grants and more time doing the work we love and believe in!
What to expect as a Patreon member:More visibility into our process
We will share our thoughts, inspirations, and reflections in the form of articles, photos, and informal essays with our supporters, as well as behind the scenes content about the process of our work as it continues to grow. We learn so much doing this work -- and so can you!
Opportunity to share back with us
We view our patrons as collaborators. Any ideas or questions you have for us -- we’re here for it! We love to receive articles, invitations to participate in events for food sovereignty, and input on our work. We could always use volunteers to help out with our programming, or helping out at a farm, or skill sharing. We are all in this together!
As a thank you for your contribution, all supporters will receive an El Departamento de la Comida sticker. We encourage our supporters to be involved: reach out to volunteer or meet with us. We will continue to look for ways to express how thankful we are for your support whenever possible :)
How El Departamento works:El Departamento de la Comida is now organized into four interconnected divisions: Agency, Resource Library, Farm, and Kitchen.
Provides pro-bono consultation for farmers to advance their unique goals. For 2019, our partners are: Jardín Ecológico San Salvador, Finca Pajuil, and Carite 3.0. Additionally, our Agency works with educational call-to-action campaigns that support local food sovereignty (soon launching our seed campaign #quenosepierdalasemilla) and actively participates in public policy relating to food and agriculture.
The Resource Library
A seed library, an educational materials collection with books and oral histories, and a tool lending library, all in one! Our Resource Library division is open to all farmers who wish to become members, and also serves as a replicable model for communities and groups around Borikén in need of shared resources. Opens summer 2019.
An eight-acre plot in San Salvador, Caguas that serves as a model for regenerative agriculture practices, prioritizing medicinal plant and seed sanctuary, agroforestry, queer community and women farmers. The Farm will produce seeds for the Resource Library, as well as some of the crops used in our Kitchen Division.
We create pop-up food events in Puerto Rico and abroad. Our “Nuestra Mesa” series is a facilitated pop-up dinner format that can exist anywhere, where we connect local food producers/community activists with key stakeholders from other industries to build bridges (reach out if you want to host one!). In 2020, we will open a physical kitchen space. This space will ensure the consumption and sale of local produce through a plant-based product line, events, catering, cooking classes, and will also serve as an incubator space for other local food businesses.
Our History:2010 - 2012: CSA
El Departamento de la Comida started in 2010 as Puerto Rico’s first multi-farm CSA. We purchased and picked up produce from an average of 10 farms per week and distributed to 150 clients at drop-off locations in San Juan, Caguas and Ponce.
2012 - 2017: Food Hub
We later expanded into a storefront, kitchen, and restaurant dedicated to local sustainable produce. We have hosted hundreds of events, from cooking classes to urban farming workshops, with followers from all around Puerto Rico and the world.
2017 - 2018: Solidarity Bus & Volunteer Brigades
After hurricanes Irma and María, our restaurant space was destroyed. We focused our efforts on Puerto Rico’s food system from the ground up with our farm partners, coordinating and fundraising “solidarity brigades” for over 60 food projects around the islands. During this time, we brought in hundreds of local and international volunteers and raised over $200,000 for relief.
2019: Non-profit Collective
A year after Hurricane María we began to ask ourselves, what should Departamento de la Comida look like in 2019 and beyond? After much reflection, conversation, and research, we decided to restructure ourselves as a non-profit, non-government collective that supports sustainable, resilient, and regenerative food projects with four interconnected divisions.