Bordofarms: A Project Focused on Solving Deportee Economic Issues Through Urban Farming

Each year in Tijuana, over 60,000 Mexican deportees end up without opportunities or infrastructure to support their arrival. This phenomenon developed into a humanitarian crisis that concentrated in Tijuana's dry concrete river -- an area known as "El Bordo." It is in El Bordo where thousands of Mexican deportees from the U.S. use to end up living in the most of extreme conditions -- inside sewers, gutters and under bridge. Here, drug consumption and disease prevail in a low morale environment.

The Tijuana Global Shapers Community (a diverse group of young leaders affiliated to World Economic Forum), proposed a project focused on building technology based vertical farms along the edge of the Tijuana River -- a project similar to the New York highline but with a productive twist. The idea was inspired by an experience with Angel Ventures Mexico where we invested, through an Angel Group, in Home Town Farms; a startup doing vertical farming in the neighboring San Diego area.

We simply brought a for-profit business model to a social issue. The goal was to create a center for transitional migration and urban farming on the edge of the Tijuana River area ("El Bordo") and we named simply named it "Bordofarms".

On our Launch Day, on early January, we hit the ground running. Media outlets reported, "It was an act of civil disobedience, carried out on federal land off a busy Tijuana thoroughfare in broad daylight. For hours on Saturday, volunteers built boxes, carted dirt and planted seedlings in what organizers say are the first step in an urban farming project aimed at addressing the issue of homeless U.S. deportees."... "The vision is to build vertical urban farms that would create jobs for the deportees, revitalize a blighted area, and serve as a source of food for the city."

In mid March 2015 after intense rains an evacuation of almost two thousand homeless people was conducted by local authorities in the "Bordo" area, making BordoFarms the last group standing in the area.

After four months in stand-by, Bordofarms aim today is to rehabilitate the old tourist pedestrian corridor of Tijuana. An area that used to welcome thousands of annual visitors from the U.S., which became abandoned and dilapidated due to decreased tourism. Our proposal is to rehabilitate this important gateway by creating an urban farm in a piece of land used as a clandestine landfill. As well as engage tourists, and integrate the nearby deportee community through productive jobs in-site and partnerships with newly created local small businesses catering to conscious tourists and local customers.

With the support of the Tijuana City Government, we are in the process of approval to begin our project that could potentially become into a sort of a Conscious District, aiming towards becoming a potential example for other government leaders looking to integrate urban initiatives into the new economy.

Given our conviction to make this second phase of Bordofarms happen, we decided to apply to the Coca-Cola shaping a better future challenge, in collaboration with Global Shapers, in order to reach our funding goals for this urban farm in the old Tijuana touristic corridor.

After this intense immersion into the social fabric of our city's deportee community, we have learned that there are many creative ways to approach social issues and that we are ready to take on the new challenges ahead through more economically viable and scalable model of social enterprise in urban farming.