We built our hotel in 2012, and the area is part of a historical coffee farming area that had turned to ranching. We have replanted some small multi-crop plots, about 100 bushes in total. It takes about 3 years for plants to reach maturity, so we have a couple years before we’re sipping our own coffee. Sigh.
What do you mean when you say multicrop?
In multicrop systems, multiple crops are grown together. Coffee is grown under shade trees (because coffee likes shade!) – like orange, or lemon or grapefruit. This is multi-tasking, it provides resilience against pests, and provides farmers an additional resource, and it provides shade! In fact, some say that coffee from Santa Fe has a unique citrus note to it because of their tendancy to grow coffee with citrus. (My husband doesn’t believe it, but you can try tasting it yourself!)
What’s unique about coffee in Santa Fe?
First and foremost, there are two brands of Coffee from Santa Fe produced as part of a local cooperative of nearly 100 small scale farmers. In Santa Fe, everyone grows coffee on a small scale. They may grow and roast for their own consumption, or may sell to the cooperative for some extra cash.
As an ecologist, what’s neat about this?
We’re right next to the Mesamerican Cooridor in the central mountain range in Panama. These mountains stretch down to the Andes and up to Mexico. Neotropical birds, including migratory ones from the US (the ones you always heard fly south for the winter) use these lands. Research has indicated that coffee plantations on a small scale such as these near forested areas are very attractive to these birds, providing habitat and opportunities for feeding and resting.
Interested in learning more? Check out our coffee tours.