Friday, March 28, 2008

Our Second Coffee Harvest in El Empalme San Ramon

As someone who has spent most of his life in cities and college towns, it remains an unexpected turn to own an organic coffee and fruit farm. These are THE crops of Costa Rica and before tourism and foreign investment became such a powerful part of the economy, coffee and bananas ruled.

My farm in El Empalme has an amazing ocean view and the sunset in the Pacific is an inspiring experience. El Empalme is one of the highest altitudes in the area making it ideal for coffee farming. It is also part of Costa Rican history. During the revolution that formed the modern Costa Rican state, El Empalme was where the rebels gained their strategic advantage over the government troops below due to its long views both towards Puntarenas and the Central Valley. A former Costa Rican President and San Ramon’s most famous citizen Jose Figueres had a weekend home in El Empalme. Figueres was an intellectual leader and one of the many architects of the modern Costa Rica who considered San Ramon their home. The elimination of the military, health care and education for all, and a stable democracy have roots in San Ramon.

Our farm produces just enough coffee for our own consumption and some to give away. The shade plants for the coffee are bananas, plantanos, limons and other fruit trees. Coffee is harvested once a year between December and February depending on the specific location. This is plenty to keep track of for me but there are many coffee farms in the area that are significant businesses.

Our friend Martin Rodriguez roasts the coffee for us at his farm in Bolivar. He can be seen selling his coffee most weekends at the San Ramon farmers market. I feel most grateful to Ivania, our El Empalme neighbor, who helps take care of most aspects of the farm for us.

We have a small farmhouse on the property, nicely oriented to the view. We hope to renovate it during July and August. Our goal is to retain it’s traditional nature while making it a comfortable living space.

Life is full of surprises and my farm in El Empalme has been one of the more unexpected chapters in my recent life.