Overview:

Created in 2015, the Vieques Hub is primarily led by SU-EFC staff located in Vieques. Staff members work closely with Vieques GREEN-PR Stewards on sustainable materials management and green infrastructure initiatives. Many of the Hub’s initiatives are centered at the Adrienne Serrano School, a rural Montessori school located in Puerto Real that serves 110 students from 1st to 10th grade.

The goal of the Hub is to promote collaborative learning among youth and adults by establishing community food gardens, sustainable materials management practices, and green infrastructure demonstration projects at the school. The hope is that these projects will also expand environmental awareness within the community and inspire people to follow these practices at home.

Hub Activities:

Recycling Programs:
– Since paper is one of the largest components of the waste stream at the Adrien Serrano Elementary School, SU-EFC staff members and GREEN-PR Stewards initiated a paper-recycling program. Through the program, waste paper is collected and students transform the scraps into recycled paper through a simple pulping process. Paper scraps are also used to create papier-mâché.
– Plastic bottles and aluminum cans are generated in small amounts at the school. These items will eventually be collected in 50 gallon barrels and recycled through the municipal recycling program.

Compost Systems:
– Several types of composting systems have been established at the school, including static piles, compost bins, and worm bins. Educational signage is being installed by the systems to show how the composting process works and how to use finished compost. The compost produced by the systems is currently being used as a soil amendment for the school’s food garden.

Rainwater Reuse:
– A rainwater catchment and irrigation system is currently under construction at the school. The system will serve as a demonstration project to educate students and the community on the importance of saving and reusing rainwater in order to reduce water consumption and alleviate negative impacts of stormwater runoff. The impacts of climate change on Vieques (and Puerto Rico in general) have led to increased drought in recent years. Efforts to capture and reuse rainwater makes the island more drought resilient and helps mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Food Garden:
– The school boasts an expansive food garden that provides food seeds and ecological knowledge for the school community.

Waste Reduction Efforts:
– A waste reduction campaign is being developed to reduce the number of products consumed by the school that cannot be recycled (e.g. milk bags, juice pouches, disposable silverware, chip bags, etc.). SU-EFC staff members are also working on an educational campaign to help consumers alter their shopping list to reduce or eliminate packaging waste through alternative options.

 

Impacts:

As a result of GREEN-PR efforts at the Vieques Hub, teachers are integrating sustainable materials management and green infrastructure into their curricula and are using the composting and rainwater catchment systems as teaching tools. Furthermore, the waste produced at the school has been reduced to materials that cannot be recycled. The Hub is working on how to eliminate or substitute those materials for reusable or recyclable options.

 

Stakeholders:

– Vieques Hub Coordinators –  Ana Arache Martinez, Michael Urayoán Connelly Reyes, and Aura E Broida Fontanez
– GREEN-PR Stewards