by Brooke McDonnell
3 years after Finca Sophia’s conception, on my 9th visit to the farm, I relish the walk up its mountain side to join co-owner Willem Boot and Kelly Hartmann, our farm manger, at the top. I am gratified and relieved, after some early setbacks, to see most of the 30,000 plants looking lush and healthy. We are there to create test zones for a new plant-based fertilizer that was getting remarkable results elsewhere in the world. The farm is one giant experiment: little is known about the rare Geisha varietal we chose to plant. We will try different nutrient delivery systems.
Organic methods of managing pests and diseased plants will be deployed. The zones we planted will be sub-divided into micro-sections of terrain like the fragmentation of the wine region in Burgundy, France. What we do know is that the high altitude (2000 meters) and terrain of Finca Sophia appear to agree with our Geisha. The view from the top is breathtaking. We take in the silence alternating with the soft sound of wind. Facing west, we see our 4 hectares of protected forest that abuts the Amistad Preserve extending into Costa Rica. Facing south, in the distance we see the Pacific Ocean. Overhead, the clouds move through in time-lapse effect. The weather is in constant flux, dazzling sun gives way to rain remarkably fast.
We head back down the mountain towards the new campamentos. One of the rooms will be prepared for the arrival of the first Finca Sophia intern who will spend several weeks at the farm to work on projects. Priorities: a new prosthesis for Angelica, a vegetable garden, composting, the neutering of the animals. How we support the nearby community needs to be defined. As with every visit to the farm, we are energized by the possibilities.