Kaleli Farm is a family owned farm located on twenty four (24) acres bordering the Carite national rainforest. According to research and testimony from the previous owner the farm was used in the 1940’s and 50’s as a hardwood forest. There are still some magnificent old growth Eucalyptus trees as historical evidence. Later the cleared area was used as a vegetable, fruit, and cattle farm. Today, the farm has been under-used and many of the pastures and forests are
We’ve yet to firm up how we will farm and where. Much of this depends on the response for emergency assistance from FEMA and USDA. We’re also pursuing help from other USDA programs and Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture, which is part of the Department of Natural Resources (DRNA). We have secured some early donations and other support from the Anthropocene Alliance.
Here are the plants we have had success growing on the farm:
- Taro Root / Malanga
- Yams / Yautia
- Sweet Potatoes / Batatas
- Plantains / Platanos
- Bananas / Guineos.
Carite Forest is located in the Sierra de Cayey and spans the following municipalities Cayey, Caguas, Guayama, Patillas, and San Lorenzo. It was designated as a National Forest in 1935. It’s designation was driven by the need to protect the watershed including La Plata, Grande de Loíza, and Patillas rivers. In a scene that continues to happen, erosion was affecting the watershed after massive deforestation in the beginnings of the 20th century. The rivers mentioned above fill important reservoirs La Plata, Carraízo, Carite, Patillas, and Comerio. Finally, the forest includes Monte La Santa, one of the highest points (903 meters) on the east side of the island. Other montes include Lucero, Honore, and Nuestra Madre.
Hurricane Maria in 2017 caused major damage to Carite Forest. Since then, many of the old trails were lost. The only trail open at the moment is for Charco Azul. Most of the trail is paved, but still may have major tree trunks still on it. Although not accessible to wheelchairs, it is has been kept clean since it was reopened after Maria. Making things worse, hurricane Fiona in 2022 brought unprecedented levels of rain. The only park that remains in operation is on State Road 184. The Don Rafael Medina park was badly damaged during Maria and has only been partially reconstructed.
These rains brought devastation to Finca Kaleli. The farm suffered multiple mudslides that instantly created a new topology. Many banana trees were lost during the mudslides. The unexpected damage has caused us to seek help from FEMA and the USDA. In addition, we now have to quickly cover the gashes left over from the mudslides. It also exposed a major problem on the farm. Beyond daily erosion, the farm must design and implement a runoff management plan. The plan needs careful construction. While we have seen way above average rainfall, two years ago the land was cracked open when we first saw it. Besides an earthquake and a pandemic, Puerto Rico had a very dry season in 2020. So the design must accommodate drought and monsoon conditions. Effectively irrigating the land while protecting property and crops.
The climate is usually wet and cool. The forest receives an average of 95 inches a year. The average temperature is 72°F (22°C). The coldest temperature we have recorded is 62°F, I’m not sure what the record is. Nearly 50 types of birds, including 9 nocturnal birds, inhabit the forest. While rare in other parts of the island it is common to see, and hear, the Guaraguao de Bosque de Puerto Rico (Buteo platyptrus), the Puerto Rican Broad-wing Hawk. Other common birds on the farm are the Pitirre (Tyrannus dominicensis), Gray Kingbird, the Juí (Papamoscas puertorriqueño), the Puerto Rican Flycatcher, and the various species of doves. It also hosts 15 species of reptiles, 12 species of retiles, and 7 mammals.