TTFF found our Puerto Rican partners in 2013 in a very unusual way. Mary received a phone call from Josue Rodriguez, who was interested in planting breadfruit trees in Puerto Rico. He was living in Fort Myers at the time, working in the airline business. He was passionate about planting trees back home in PR and helping with food security and employment. He had found our phone number on the internet and cold called Mary one day. The coincidence was that Mary happened to be in Naples, Florida that day, traveling on business. Within an hour we were sitting together, having lunch and talking about the best way to help.
This cold call turned out to be the beginning of a long lasting relationship between Trees That Feed and entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico! Within a few months 500 breadfruit saplings were shipped from a greenhouse in Florida to PR. Josue has turned those first few trees into a thriving business!
The saplings were new cultivars to the island, as recommended by the National Tropical Botanical Gardens in Hawaii. These cultivars originated from Samoa.
Some of those first saplings also went to Juan Carlos Rodriguez (no relation). Juan Carlos was then a University Student who instinctively understood the value of this underutilized tree. He planted his trees knowing that once he graduated and had a breadfruit business established that his supply of fruit will be ensured. Juan Carlos also has a successful business around breadfruit.
Those great relationships were just the beginning. Since then we have met a most dynamic lady, Raquel deJesus. She is from PR originally, and has a large factory in the Dominican Republic, making breadfruit tostones. Raquel’s factory handles 10,000 breadfruit in a day, to make these tasty products. They are eagerly consumed both in Puerto Rico and in Florida. Raquel is also benefiting Haiti, because thousands of breadfruit are imported from there, across the border into the DR.
Mary McLaughlin and Raquel are two high achieving ladies. They formed a firm friendship immediately. They are working together to source even larger quantities of fruit, building more production capacity, and supplying greater markets.
Raquel and her business partner Nancy Castro have decided to give back to help TTFF.
Each bag of tostones sold will have the TTFF logo, and a penny (US$0.01) per bag will be donated to us. At the quantities shipped, this will really add up! We appreciate the generosity both financial and with the exposure that we will receive.
Since those beginnings in 2013, TTFF has assisted Puerto Rico by planting trees, supplying equipment, providing technical advice, marketing of breadfruit products, and building relationships. We’ve even helped with hurricane relief. Trees That Feed Foundation is committed to Puerto Rico and we look forward to continuing to help locally with breadfruit plantings and products in the future.