Mariolga Reyes Cruz

Co-founder and Exec Director, FiTiCAS Agroecology Commons

Big Bet: Show the Caribbean what is possible in regenerative farming through accessible land tenure.

Project: Develop and scale a model to support land tenure through agroecology commons for traditionally marginalized BIPOC farmers in Puerto Rico. This project protects land in perpetuity, secures just and equitable land access, and transforms the food systems through long-term land use agreements and governance structures centered on environmentally-sound practices. In addition to securing the land, this project supports investment into the initial infrastructure farmers need so they can invest the capital they generate directly into their operations.

Mariolga Reyes Cruz is an ecofeminist community psychologist, agroecology promoter, and filmmaker from the islands of Puerto Rico. She holds a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she was a Ford Fellow. Since 2011, she works to amplify the efforts of local agroecologists who are growing food sovereignty in Puerto Rico protecting nature. She has co-produced two series of short documentaries showcasing practices in agroecology (Agroecología en Puerto Rico and Cosecha Hoy) and an award-wining feature length documentary, Serán las dueñas de la tierra / Stewards of the land, that highlights the daily struggles of three landless farmers as they weather natural and unnatural disasters.

After hurricanes Irma and María devastated the islands in 2017, she began organizing to create FiTiCAS, the first agrarian Community Land Trust in the islands. Founded in 2019, FiTiCAS protects farmland in perpetuity as a commons to secure just and equitable access to land for generations of BIPOC farmers, transforming the food systems through long-term land use agreements and governance structures centered on ecosocial sustainability. In 2021, Mariolga received the Echoing Green Fellowship for her work. In 2023, FiTiCAS received its first land donation. The farm is transitioning into the first Agroecology Commons protected by FiTiCAS.