Utuado, Puerto Rico, is a region that has witnessed many natural hazards, most notably Hurricane Maria that struck the island in 2017 and irrevocably altered its landscape to this day (Holladay et al., 2019; Ortiz, 2020; Benach et al., 2019). In combination with layers of pre-existing vulnerability, such as socio-economic vulnerability and food insecurity, this has made for a disaster situation (Klein, 2018; Benach et al., 2019; Garriga-López, 2019). However, this disaster has also opened up a window for citizens to rise up and self-organize for the revitalization of their shared communities and spaces; in the agricultural sector, this has manifested as a drive towards a stronger regional economy and the building of food sovereignty through agritourism (Holladay et al., 2019).
In contribution to a larger Southern SARE project, my Master of Sustainability Solutions (MSUS) Culminating Experience (CE) project aims to support this local movement through a collaboration with key local farmers to identify local farm assets through the reconstruction of solution strategies (Forrest & Wiek, 2014) and the designing of an educational program for the adaptation and scaling of identified sustainability solutions to other regional farms (Fraser & Galinsky, 2010). The intended outcomes for this project include (1) the building of community resilience and livelihood opportunity; (2) the increasing of awareness and knowledge of agritourism best practices; (3) the dissemination of knowledge on practices to increase farm- and visitor-readiness; (4) and the strengthening and interconnection of the regional economy. Based on the array of exemplary farms and enterprises that I have conducted research on and engaged with through this project, I have witnessed the potential that the widespread dissemination of agritourism best practices offers for the progressive building up of the regional economy in Utuado, Puerto Rico.
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