The simple farmer

By Yilka M. García Rivera

If you’ve visited Lajas, P.R. and you have eaten pineapple there, chances are that those were Don Marcos’s pineapples. Don Marcos Martínez Ruíz is a farmer in Lajas that principally cultivates pineapples. He is a 5 feet tall humble man with grey hair and mustache, very friendly, and always wearing his farmer clothes when it comes to work with his crops.

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Farmer Marcos and his pineapple crops.

            “When I go to work on my crops, especially my pineapples I put my jeans, long sleeve shirt, rubber boots, and hat to protect myself from insects, the sun, and my pineapple’s spines.”

Farmer Marcos was born and raised in a little neighborhood called Cerro Alto in Lajas PR.

            “I took first, second, and third grade classes with professor Cancel at a school in the same neighborhood I lived in, I can’t remember the name of the school.”

            He explain how his childhood was and where he lived and was raised.

            “My childhood was healthy, we lived in a small, familiar neighborhood, with a good, humble family. I was raised in the countryside in Lajas, I’m a peasant.”

            Farmer Marcos completed high school and studied in college. He studied several things before he became interested in having a property of his own so he could cultivate and begin his business as a farmer.

            “I first studied several things from accounting, hotel business to agriculture. I’ve cultivated each year ever since I bought it. It has been 35 to 40 years of dedication to cultivating and harvestings these pineapples which are my principal crop production.”

Pineapple of the variety Cabezona.

Pineapple of the variety Cabezona.

            He loves what he does but if he weren’t a farmer he would love to be a math or science professor. He has the ability of being persistent and has a lot of patience because the harvest of the pineapple takes almost a year, if not induced.

            “I love being a farmer and what I do because I contribute to the well-being of the families here in PR. Also I feel the mission to give the Puerto Rican families healthy foods and not so much imported crops from other places because we can produce a lot of different crops.”

            Even though he surpassed a variety of small difficulties his main one was that there was no water when he bought the property, and using the water from his house would be a big cost. That’s when he decided to make a small pond with his own money to help with his irrigation system for the pineapples. This problem slowed his crop production for a while.

            Don Marcos success is based in several ideas and attitudes that helped him.

            “I think I’ve been successful because I love producing these crops and I’ve been persistent even with the struggles but especially because I love it.”

            He would like young people to cultivate the soil and take on agriculture.

“It is a noble thing; the soil is where life comes from, if there are no crops what could we eat?” He feels that in Puerto Rico we have lost the passion for sowing the soil but that it should be stimulated “so that we can cultivate like in the old days and have love for our soil. Now the Dept. of Agriculture is helping us with that.”

A beautiful view of the pineapple crop from Don Marcos in Lajas.

A beautiful view of the pineapple crop from Don Marcos in Lajas.

A practice Don Marcos uses to evade the sun burning the pineapples.

A practice Don Marcos uses to evade the sun burning the pineapples.

            The exportation of Puerto Rican products can be a big advantage for the agriculture here in Puerto Rico in an economic and healthy way.

            “It’s an excellent idea, the variety of pineapple that is exported to other places is the MD2 because the cabezona variety is in less quantity and that is why it is not exported, if not it should be great. The problem is that we import a lot and this affect us in the agriculture. I wish that we could export more and import less because it could help us economically too.”

            Each farmer has his own anecdote and experiences through their trajectories.

            “Some of my experiences are a commercial for a bank and a home garden group. We shared seeds, knowledge, problem solving, and fruits. A friend of mine from the group brought me a fruit called Jaca that is from Maricao and you can use all of it for consumption.”

            Don Marcos has in mind several things in his future, this would include the owner of his property.

            “The person who I would chose to keep up with my work would be my granddaughter ‘Tata’. She studies right now general agriculture at UPRM. I think she is the best candidate because she is going to have more knowledge and practice in the area of agriculture.”

            I asked his granddaughter Kendra Martínez about her grandfather’s option.

            “I feel blessed to have a grandfather like him because he is a great human being and he is always thinking in the families of Puerto Rico’s health. This is a big step forward for me because I will have a secure job and a place to work with my future projects and goals, also to keep up with my granddad’s pineapples.”

            Adnellys Flores, a close friend of Marcos since they were in college, regards him as “a great human being, he is very humble, responsible, love what he does and specially he wants the best for his people here in Puerto Rico.”

She added that he has great visions and as he calls them mission to help the Puerto Rican by eating healthier and higher quality foods. “He has always been a persistent man.”

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