Permaculture in Puerto Escondido, part 2

Sustainable Organic Farming At Finca Las Nieves

by Gustavo Boltjes

Finca las Nieves. Photo: Gustavo Boltjes
Finca las Nieves. Photo: Gustavo Boltjes

In the cloud forest at elevations of 1200 to 1600 meters, just two hours from Puerto Escondido, Finca las Nieves produces top-quality, organic coffee while developing new models of sustainability.

A single hectare (2.47 acres) of the 1,000 acre plantation may support up to 300 varieties of trees. This multiple-use forest, besides sheltering birds and butterflies, also provides wood, fruit and compost in sustainable quantities.

The coffee bean is actually a seed encased in a berry, so the environmental impact of its cultivation is minimal, especially when shade-grown. At Finca las Nieves the berry pulp and the seed shell are recycled into the soil for their nutrients.

Coffee, nursery Finca las Nieves.<br />Photo: Gustavo Boltjes
Coffee, nursery Finca las Nieves.
Photo: Gustavo Boltjes

The plants are irrigated though a system of furrows that can provide a slow flow of water that saturates the land and thus helps regenerate the soil and the aquifer. It’s worth noting that all of Puerto’s water comes from the mountain forests in the coffee growing zone.

The finca makes its own liquid and solid organic fertilizer, using rock flour, bone meal and an assortment of the region’s residues. These water soluble fertilizers are easy for the plants to absorb and translate into tastier and more healthful food.

Farms like Finca las Nieves are proof that high quality, sustainable and economically viable agriculture can exist and flourish without recourse to agro-industry. Today there are many agencies certifying as “organic” food that is not being produced in a sustainable, eco-friendly way. Organic agriculture implies a profound transformation, not least in matters of land ownership. It demands radical changes so that campesinos live with dignity on the land and that the world’s population has permanent access to healthy, low-cost food.


Finca las Nieves. Photo: Gustavo Boltjes
Finca las Nieves. Photo: Gustavo Boltjes

Ground-up rocks, bone meal, manure: this is what consitutes the axis around which the agriculture of the future - social agriculture - will depend. Generating healthy soil is the farmer’s number one priority, and public enemy number one is not a person but rather land that has been stripped bare of its foliage. Plants are the bridge connecting airborne carbon to the soil, keeping the land fertile. Farmers are the custodians of the process of photosynthesis and they have it in their power to restore and increase the productivity of the land for generations to come. Control the food supply and you control nations; destroy your soil and you destroy your nation.

At Finca las Nieves we are proud to be carbon farmers.

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