In July 2020, Thrity and Andrés collaborated with Visit Rico to create the first public event at the project since the Covid-19 Lockdown that started in March 2020 at Las Casas de la Selva. The event was a Farm-to-Table dining experience that engaged with local producers, and chef Natalia Lucia delighted everyone with her cuisine.
VisitRico is a non-profit organization, directed by Camille Collazo, dedicated to the development of agriculture in Puerto Rico through education, health, and food security through the organic, community, and urban agriculture. They offer educational services through seminars and workshops for farmers in management, administrative, and technical matters. They advocate for the protection and conservation of the natural resources of Puerto Rico, and their vision is to be the engine of the agricultural economy.
Thanks to Raymesh Cintron (filmmaker), Camille Collazo, and VisitRico.
On Wednesday 20th September Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on the island of Puerto Rico on the southeast shore. As a nearly Category 5 storm, with winds of 155 miles per hour, and 45 inches of rain, Maria lashed the island for longer than 30 hours. Thrity and Andrés were hunkered down in the library bunker at the project for the ten hour duration of this very violent hurricane.
Above: The Hurricane’s Path across Puerto Rico. The eye was 10 miles wide.
Las Casas de la Selva, Sustainable Forestry and Rainforest Enrichment project suffered devastating damage to trees and property within the eye of this extremely violent hurricane.
The project was still in recovery from the damage and results of Hurricane Irma which skirted the north coast of Puerto Rico on 6th September 2017.
Thrity Vakil, Project Director, has left the island two weeks after the hurricane, to raise funds for rebuilding the project.
Technical director Andrés Rúa remains on the ground at the project, and is keeping us updated on everything when he can find cell signal in the metropolitan areas of San Juan.
With the entire infrastructure of the island devastated, as of 7th October, 90% of the island’s people are without electricity or cell signal, and there are gas and diesel shortages, along with food, water, and health issues, facing the entire population of the island.
We will prevail in this very difficult time, and faced with the difficult task of asking for help. If any of you are able to donate any funds towards getting us back on our feet, it will be very much appreciated.
The Institute of Ecotechnics, (a US 501 c 3), has set up a Las Casas Disaster Relief Fund and we are grateful for any help you can give. Go to this page to click the donate button.
Or please send a check payable to Institute of Ecotechnics with a note for Las Casas Disaster Fund. Send to: 26, Synergia Road, Santa Fe, NM, 87508.
Andrés and 3t, along with the founders of Las Casas de la Selva, the Directors of The Institute of Ecotechnics, thank you, and are eternally grateful for your support in this exceptionally difficult time.
Hilda Soltero was the Secretary of The Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources in the early 1980s, and it was she that flew John Allen over the island when he was looking for a place to start a sustainable forestry project. Dr. Mark Nelson and John Rubio Druitt met with Dr. Frank Wadsworth in 1983 to discuss the possibilities. In 1983, Las Casas de la Selva was born. Today in December 2014, we shared with Hilda great discussions, stories, visions and plans, and enjoyed the company of her two sons and four grand kids. Thank you Hilda for your continuing support of tropical forestry, along with this project here in Patillas, and look forward to working with you on the mission of sustainable forestry in Puerto Rico.