Working People of Holyoke VI: Urban AgricultureIn the nineteenth century, the largest immigrant groups arriving in Holyoke were the Irish and, later, French Canadians. More recently, the population of Puerto Rican extraction has grown to the point that it now comprises over a third of the total.
Many of the Puerto Ricans come from a rural background, so there was a logic back in 1992 to creation of an organization Nuestras Raíces (Our Roots) that promotes and enables small-scale farming within the city by adults and youth.
Nuestras Raíces' website explains:
Urban agriculture has proven to be an effective way to promote community development because it is a way for the residents of downtown Holyoke to maintain a connection to their culture while putting down roots in their new home. Most of our members grew up on the farms of rural Puerto Rico and many first came to the Northeast as migrant farm workers. Though they may live in the city now, they are farmers at heart. They have lifetimes of experience in agriculture and it is part of their heritage. Projects based on agriculture, such as markets and community gardens, build on the skills and knowledge that participants already have, and are proud to have the opportunity to use to improve their community and to teach to a younger generation.To read about Nuestras Raíces' various projects, including La Finca (The Farm), a thirty-acre spread on the shore of the Connecticut River within the city limits, you can start at this page of their website. A nine-minute video showing an exhibition of paso fino horses, some of which are stabled at La Finca, is below.