Nuestras Raices – Holyoke, Massachusetts

Nuestras Raíces was created in 1992 by a group of community members in South Holyoke, with the goal of eventually developing a greenhouse in downtown Holyoke. The founding members of Nuestras Raíces were all migrating farmers from Puerto Rico, with a strong agricultural background, who had found themselves in a city without opportunities. Realizing that the city was not being cared for, these community members took action into their own hands. They located an abandoned lot in South Holyoke that was full of trash, needles and criminal activity and they came together to clean this lot, turning it into the city’s first community garden. This one action sparked an agricultural revolution, and more and more of these community gardens began to pop up throughout the city, all joining the Nuestras Raíces network. This one action was crucial because it connected the entire city through a network of community gardens that allowed the members of Nuestras Raíces to organize and communicate about the different issues affecting the community throughout the city. Nuestras Raíces today has a network of 12 community gardens with over 100 member families, an environmental program that addresses issues affecting the Holyoke community, a Youth Program for inner city youth that gives them the opportunity to organize about food and environmental related topics, and a 30 acre inner city farm that focuses on food systems, economic development and agriculture.