Seeds of Hope on the US-Mexico Border

As the world is caught in waves of COVID-19 lockdowns, partisan clamoring and lightning-shift policies, all of it compounded by huge uncertainty, one tomato is a seed of hope.

A whole crop of tomatoes? Food for hungry mouths.

A greenhouse for crop after crop of tomatoes? Food, income, and shelter. Long term.

The COVID-19 pandemic is closing businesses and causing millions of people to lose jobs and the ability to put food on the table around the world. Our displaced friends are the first to be marginalized, the first to lose a job. Those already living in tents and shelters, with little means of making money, are doubly hit by COVID-19.

And now they face greater uncertainty, as the US government moves to suspend all immigration, including asylum requests, due to coronavirus—extending the wait for more than 60,000 asylum seekers.

A greenhouse for tomatoes on the roof of the shelter we’re serving in Mexico. Photo by Rafael Avila/Preemptive Love

With the loss of jobs, the uncertainty of knowing how long they will stay at the border, and the probable effect on the economy (threatening the availability of jobs in the long term), our friends at the border need a sustainable solution more than ever.

That’s exactly what you’re helping them to find.

In these times of desperate uncertainty, a source of income like food brings a small glimmer of stability.

Growing tomatoes means there’s food to eat, and money to be made from selling it. Tomatoes are in high local demand, fairly easy to grow—and they grow fast.

At a shelter where we’re serving asylum seekers, we just completed a big rooftop greenhouse tent, and added 200 tomato seedlings.

These 200 plants will continue producing for the next 2 years and can yield the shelter almost $4,000 every other month when harvested.

That’s enough to cover close to 100% of the shelter’s rent, utilities, and food for two months.

Asylum seeking residents work to transplant seedlings into the shelter’s rooftop greenhouse. Photo by Libni Haniel/Preemptive Love

We’re training our displaced friends to care for the plants and maximize yields. We’re looking to grow relationships with local food businesses and vendors to sell the tomatoes.

In planting food, our friends are also growing their relationships with the community they’re in—literally putting down roots in their new home.

“Many of [the residents] are scared right now, because they have no income. They can’t go out and work,” says our teammate Libni, who lives in Mexico. “A lot of them really don’t know what to do. But at the same time, they’re very thankful because they have a place to stay: they have a place where they can shower, where they can sleep, where they can eat. It’s scary, but they’re grateful for having this in their lives.”

Gang violence is a constant threat here, as drug cartels war with each other for turf and the lucrative trade of smuggling drugs and people across the border. Some of the Central Americans fleeing the same violence back home have been at this shelter for months.

What was already a desperate situation just got a lot worse with the pandemic hitting all areas of normal life.

In these times of desperate uncertainty, an income solution like food brings a small glimmer of stability. It brings a spark of hope, and gives people a solid foundation to build their futures on.

You provided backpacks of hope last June, and you made sure that food and other essentials got to the asylum seekers who needed them most.

Now in this moment of crisis, our goal is the same—from Iraq to Syria to Mexico to Venezuela:

No one starves in quarantine.

When you give monthly, you give people what they need to survive. Food for their families. Jobs for long-term income and stability. You start businesses built for crisis—so that even in violence, war, or pandemics, the most vulnerable can keep working, earning, and providing.

Give food and jobs for the most vulnerable.