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Puerto Rico teen entrepreneur creates vital link between island farmers and consumers

Helping a farmer "feels better than getting an A+," said José Nolla Marrero, 17, founder of the Puerto Rican web venture E-Farm.

Jose Nolla-Marrero, founder of e-Farm Puerto Rico

This report is part of #NBCGenerationLatino, focusing on young Hispanics and their contributions during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Puerto Rican high school student José Nolla Marrero was 15 when he asked himself a simple question.

“How can I get products that were healthy but good for the environment? “ he said.

In his quest to answer it, Nolla Marrero founded E-Farm, a digital platform that connects farmers across the island with consumers. Nolla came up with a website that showcases farmers’ products and then coordinates the purchase and delivery of the sustainable and organic produce and products.

“I found out that people wanted a way of buying these products directly and that’s how the idea of E-Farm itself came about,” said Nolla Marrero, who is now 17. “My goal with E-Farm is to make every farmer an entrepreneur, so that they can be self sufficient and that they can sell their products directly to consumers.”

E-farm currently has 24 registered farms with 5 more on the way and has shipped goods to consumers in Puerto Rico, New York, Connecticut and as far as Montana.

Promoting the production and sale of island-grown produce is significant, since Puerto Rico currently imports about 85 percent of its food, a situation that became starkly evident following Hurricane Maria, when it was hard for residents to obtain food. In addition, farming and food production helps stem the island’s high unemployment rate and tough economic situation.

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