Updated: May 8
Ten years ago gardeners Olga and Carmen Rodriguez moved back to Puerto Rico entrusting Palmas Del Caribe Community Garden to Alfonso Rodriguez and Julio Medina. The strawberry patch that Olga started in 1972 remains today a permanent fixture of the garden. The garden is located on Eagle Avenue in a fraction of the footprint of the former Hupfels Brewery. The brewery was in operation from the 1860’s to the early twentieth century and was one of many that stood in the area known as Grove Hill. The highest point of the hill was hollowed out as cool caverns where the beer was stored to age. As a result of prohibition in the 1920s the Hupfels family turned the brewery into a mushroom farm. After a number of years the lots began to take on the dimensions that we now see today. Parts of the brewery were replaced by; housing, a school, a social club, a storage facility, a construction company and the Palmas Del Caribe Community Garden. The original smokestack, a number of old unwieldy retaining walls and a decrepit old warehouse, remains. “This garden is like our second home”, said Alfonso Rodriguez recently, we come here every week and spend time talking about the old days and sharing news of the neighborhood. We grow vegetables and grapes, celebrate Father’s and Mother’s Days and occasionally we roast a pig for the community. Gardener Ballona , who would like to start a music program at the garden to teach neighborhood youth to play the guitar, often stops by and leads the other gardeners in a sing-along of Salsa Romantico songs. Salsa Romantico is a soft form of salsa music that emerged between the mid 1980s and early 1990s in New York City and Puerto Rico. Community members stop by and listen as the sweet sounds bring them back to bygone days in the Bronx and Puerto Rico.