When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, farms were decimated and residents, including relatives of Kohler Waters Spa massage therapist Vanessa Quiñones, were left without nourishment and support.
Instead of waiting for relief efforts, Vanessa, who owns and operates an organic farm, took matters into her own hands. She launched a campaign called #SeedsOfHopePR to collect donations for seeds that she then delivered to the farms herself during a 10-day trip to the island.
She donated half of the funds to a farm on the small island of Vieques, which she was unable to visit due to bad weather. That farm did not need additional seed donations, so Vanessa donated them to a community garden in a low-income area. She worked on the second farm in Mayagüez for four days, cleaning up tree damage, replanting cacao trees, helping with projects and selling goods at a farmers market. She donated the remainder of the money she raised to this farm, which will use it for repairs and purchasing fruit and cacao trees.
“I selected two community-supported agriculture farms that have the biggest impact on their respective communities,” said Vanessa. “By supporting local, small-scale farmers we are also supporting the people and the community that those farmers grow food for.”
Along with providing agricultural support, Vanessa also teamed up with Kohler Stewardship to encourage associates to share positive messages of hope on postcards she designed.
“The postcards meant so much to the people who read them," Quiñones said. "Puerto Rico may have been damaged, but the spirit of the island has definitely not been destroyed."