Monday, June 14, 2021

Biden Administration Taps Culebra for Community Program

By on June 2, 2021

U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced that the island municipality of Culebra is one of 13 communities selected to participate in a federal partnership program that supports community-led efforts to reinvest in existing neighborhoods, protects the environment, and improves residents’ health and quality of life through the development of the local food economy.

Through  Local Foods, Local Places (LFLP), a team of agricultural, environmental, public health, and regional economic development experts will work directly with the group ‘Mujeres de Islas’ in collaborating with the local municipality and businesses to address food insecurity and to build a more sovereign and sustainable local food system for residents. The group looks to develop an islandwide organic composting initiative coupled with an urban vegetable and fruit gardening initiative and will also coordinate with ongoing revitalization efforts in downtown Culebra.

“By promoting urban gardening, organic composting, and increased access to healthy food, EPA is working to revitalize and support communities in our Region,” said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan. “The Local Foods, Local Places program is a great thing for Puerto Rico as it can help protect the environment, improve health and create jobs for the community.

When Mujeres de Islas received this notice of acceptance of “our LFLP EPA’s technical assistance application, we were in awe,” said Organizational Coordinator Dulce del Río Pineda. “We have committed to identify resources that will lead to Culebra being recognized as where sustainability happens and be an example for the other islands of our archipelago and the Caribbean,” she said. 

This year, LFLP is sponsored by the EPA, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service, with multiple federal agencies planning to participate. The 13 LFLP communities selected in 2021 were chosen from among 97 applicants. 

Since its launch in 2014, LFLP has helped more than 120 communities across the country develop local food enterprises, such as farmers markets, community gardens and cooperative grocery stores, using a place-based approach that improves environmental, economic, and health outcomes in downtowns and neighborhoods. The program pays special attention to overcoming economic challenges, improving equity, and tackling climate change and other factors that can hinder revitalization efforts and residents’ access to more affordable healthy food.