By Michelle Fish
Take a walk with me around the El Recreo Coffee farm and meet some of the people we met on our first visit there in July of 2019.
Our first day started with a tour of the facilities on site… including this walk through employee housing. There are cooking facilities for everyone, as well as restrooms and showers with hot water, a relative luxury. The farm is primarily solar-powered, so the rythym of life is synced with the sun.
The Farm School
When the Carlos and Leana Ferrey bought the farm in 1972, they were living three hours away in Managua. When it was time for the first harvest, Leana was shocked by how many migrant workers arrived with their young children in tow, expecting them to work the fields. She thought those kids needed to be in school, so she and Carlos built one. It serves as a one room school house that educates the kids through the fourth grade, after which all of the farm kids receive a scholarship and transportation to the school in a nearby town to take them through 12th grade.
Jorge Ferrey, the Farm Director and Carlos and Leana’s son, took us through the fields and the processing areas. El Recreo grows coffee on 372 acres. In 2012, the family purchased two more properties, Zaragoza and San Judas, to increase their coffee growing capacity, and to add cocoa to their portfolio.
Jorge Ferrey, the Farm Director.
The work of clearing the brush around the coffee trees is done by hand, with machetes.
Carlos Ferrey, the family patriarch.
Leana Ferrey, in the Technical School she started. The family had noticed that many local farms were being abandoned by farmers who couldn’t make a living on coffee. So she started a school in 2006 to help them farm better. They teach them everything from budgeting and administrative practices, to sustainable agriculture, to cupping. The school is now accredited by the University in Managua.
Cupping Master Carlos Barreto has been a cupping instructor for more than 45 years, and is recognized as one of the leading cupping experts in Nicaragua.
The Farm Dog and her Puppies
We were delighted to meet Luna, Jorge’s dog, and her recent litter of puppies when we first arrived. Because, puppies. They were adorable, and I would have taken them all home with me, but the little black and white one was my favorite. When they’re old enough, the puppies will be given to farm workers as house pets.