Story and video by Nicole Harvey

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017 it destroyed Stephanie Rodriguez’s farm. While many decided to leave their living conditions after the storm, Rodriguez considered it her duty to stay and help Puerto Rico rebuild by educating others about sustainable farming. She works closely with local farmers as well as elementary and middle school students.

Edgardo Rivera is one local farmer that has worked many years with Rodriguez. He has nothing but glowing reviews for Rodriguez. Before he met her, Rivera relied largely on plantains to make a living. While they are a popular crop, this can be a difficult task. The maturation period for plantains is one year. If storms destroy this crop farmers are left with nothing for a year, while waiting on their plantains to mature.

Rodriguez is spreading the importance of varying your crops in order to always have something to eat and sell. Her students learn beginning farming techniques such as germinating seeds and composting. Some have even gone on to further their agricultural studies in higher education. Her lessons have been so well received she has expanded to guest speaking in various other communities.