How Puerto Rico Becomes One of the Caribbean’s Top Agritourism Destinations | road trip


Hacienda Tres Angeles

Hacienda Tres Angels, a family-owned coffee farm in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, teaches visitors about the coffee production process from “crop to cup.”
Hacienda Tres Angeles

Coffee trees cover the mountainous terrain around Puerto Rico’s Adjuntas, a municipality with a cool climate, meandering rivers and rolling terrain. The area is home to nearly one-third of Puerto Rico’s locally consumed coffee.

It’s also where you’ll find Hacienda Tres Ángeles, a family-owned coffee farm that teaches visitors about the coffee production process “from crop to cup.” Hacienda owners Juan Luis Meléndez Mulero and his wife, Naomi Gómez, tour the property weekly, bringing visitors to the fields to teach them about their farming practices and later offer samples of the finished product. In the year In 2014, Hacienda Tres Angels became the island’s first farm to be certified by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s (PRTC) new agricultural tourism program, an initiative to not only promote Puerto Rico’s agricultural culture and traditions to the outside world, but also to improve them. Economic stability of farmers in the process.

The use of the term “agritourism” may have originated in Italy. agriturismosFarmhouses adapted to accommodate guests with food, activities, overnight stays, or a combination of each – first became popular in the 1970s and ’80s. Today, agritourism has become an increasingly popular way for farmers to make a living in places like the Philippines, France, and the United States—in many cases, even during the pandemic.

Hacienda Tres Ángeles is currently one of 32 certified agritourism projects throughout Puerto Rico, inviting travelers and locals alike to experience the island’s agricultural practices and traditions, from picking their own lettuce to visiting a bakery. These programs (part of PRTC’s larger sustainable tourism initiatives) not only boast of the island’s tourism potential, but also allow properties to innovate in their offerings and earn some additional income from travel. The agricultural certification program is especially In 2017, Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm, destroyed 80 percent of the island’s agricultural infrastructure and production, according to Puerto Rico’s Department of Agriculture.

“Personally, we lost 85 percent of the crop and 40 percent of the coffee bush,” said Meléndez Mulero.

Since the typhoon, PRTC has worked hard to promote the island’s existing agritourism companies. For example, they launched the “One Island, 78 Destinations” campaign to promote inland tourism to the island’s residents, including Agritourism-certified Hacienda Tres Ángeles and Cabo Rojo’s dragon fruit-growing Hacienda Verde Tahiti in summer 2021. So did the tour company. In October 2021, eight new properties were awarded Agri-Tourism certification. Among these are guava growers El Paraíso Agricola de Aguas Buenas and Finca Gaya, which teach a wide variety of animals native to the island.

In order for the property to be certified, it must meet certain eligibility criteria. This includes properly disposing of waste and toxic substances, using efficient energy systems, and finding ways to involve and benefit the local community. Once approved, the company or property can receive benefits related to accreditation, such as promotion in PRTC’s official publications and marketing campaigns, and financial incentives for agritourism offerings, training local guides or purchasing new materials for workshops. The recertification process is conducted every two years. “The program opened many doors for us,” said Meléndez Mulero, who said that Hacienda Tres Angels has seen a significant increase in tourism since it was featured in various media platforms and magazines.

One thing is certain: agritourism allows visitors to engage with Puerto Rican culture in a unique and interesting way. Here is just a sampling of the possibilities.

Puerto Rico’s equestrian heritage and traditions are alive and well at Hacienda Don Carmelo, a monthly tour of a breeding and training facility for Paso Fino horses. “I was inspired by the equestrian world of agritourism in Kentucky,” says Don Carmelo Figueroa Rodriguez, the hacienda manager and founder’s daughter, who began building the facility in the 1980s.

The hacienda occupies 60 hectares of rolling hills, ocean views and blooming jasmine on the island’s northern coast. On the first Saturday of every month, visitors are invited to take a two-hour tour of the site, including accommodation and training facilities; Also see how the horses live, feel and communicate, Figueroa said. Along the way, you will learn about grooming, shoeing and horse nutrition, as well as the unique characteristics of different horse breeds. Paso Fino horses are known for their easy gait. “Being part of the agritourism industry has been great for us,” says Figueroa. “It’s a great tool to show our culture.”

Located 25 miles outside of Old San Juan in coastal Vega Alta, San Juan Artisan Distillers is the island’s first and only artisanal sugar cane distillery. And Then sugar cane rum is made, all in one place. Tours provide a front-row seat to the rum-making process, from juice extraction to rum aging in the bodega. They run twice a day, six days a week and conclude by tasting nine of San Juan’s unique labels. These include TresClavos, made with fresh local fruit sourced within 50 miles of the property. “In this way, we help promote local farmers,” says Pepe Alvarez, founder and president of Directors. “Everything is handmade by our staff, and we don’t use any added colouring, flavoring or preservatives of any kind,” he added.

Juan Echevarria and his wife Maria Mendez started Puerto Rico’s first commercial cocoa farm in 2009 and a year later began offering tours and workshops. “Sometimes only three or five people show up,” said Echevarria, who was promoting the event on the company’s social media. Finding it too difficult to make a profit, the couple applied for PRTC’s agri-tourism certification. After being recognized in 2019, “everything has changed,” says Echevarria. “We have been getting calls for more calls not only from locals but also from visitors from other countries.”

Before tasting chocolate, visitors can tour a permaculture estate—a model of a sustainably operated natural ecosystem—and learn about Puerto Rico’s cocoa industry and how it affects conservation, climate change, and natural habitats. “We always change or add something different to our tour,” says Echevarria.

The couple uses their farm as an example for other Puerto Rican farmers who want to specialize in cacao. Through their “Project Pais,” they allow anyone to make a nominal donation of a grafted cacao tree to a farmer in Puerto Rico. “This initiative will help develop new cocoa farms around the island,” Echevarria said. To date, they have successfully “planted” over 400,000 trees.

Tucked away in the northern coastal village of Hatillo, the center of the island’s dairy industry, Vaca Negra was a game changer in the world of Puerto Rican cheese. Here, microbiologist-turned-cheesemaker Wanda Otero ages European-inspired cheeses (the island is best known for fresh varieties like queso fresco) from 100 percent whole milk. The company’s six artisan cheeses include Montebello, which has a great taste and aroma, and Ausubal, like Switzerland.

Vaca Negra hosts public tours every Saturday that educate visitors about the local dairy process and offer tours of the facility, followed by tastings of both cheeses and cheeses with flavors such as guava and coconut, and European-style yogurts. The highlight of each visit is the opportunity to make your own cheese. Add spices and herbs like parsley and garlic powder, stamp with your initials and then leave the cheese to age – a two-month process in a Vaca Negra cheese cellar. After that, you can send them out for fun.

Named for the couple’s three daughters, Hacienda Tres Ángeles (which means “Three Angels”) hosts reservation-only coffee plantation tours every Saturday that delve into Puerto Rico’s coffee history. The tour offers a view of both the coffee grounds and processing and ends in the hacienda’s own cafe, where participants will taste the freshly roasted Tres Angeles coffee, Arabica/Catura – medium roast single source coffee with chocolate and honey flavors. “This is a farm-to-cup experience,” said Meléndez Mulero.


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