A huge influence on my gardening bug is my dad Pedro Juan Padró. He grew up in Manatí, Puerto Rico surrounded by rich tropical botanicals. Born on a mountaintop coffee farm to a one-room house he was, and is, a true jíbaro (*someone who farms off the countryside or mountain land in PR). In our family we celebrate two birthdays for him; one on May 18th for the true day he was born, and one on May 20th for when his father took him on a donkey to get his birth certificate in Ciales, Puerto Rico. From a very young age my dad worked on pineapple and sugar plantations for very little pay. I believe Puerto Rican’s have a unique attachment and appreciation for the land. As descendants of Taíno’s, we create a legacy with nature. If you scroll down to the bottom there’s an image of me, a few years ago, in my father’s garden in Illinois picking bell peppers.

︎Mercedes Padró