Thursday, June 27
We spent the first half of this day learning about and then working at Caoba Farms, a sustainable, organic farm on the outskirts of Antigua. Alex Kronick , the Guatemalan owner, gave us an extensive lesson on the finer points of running a sustainable farm. The intentionality with which crops are planted to maximize soil nutrients, bees are kept to enhance pollination, and animals, chickens, compost, and worms are used to create fertilizer was impressive. Unlike the more popular mono crop model that can be mechanized and erodes the soil over time, this farm stimulates the local economy by creating many jobs for local workers and enhances the natural ecology of the area.
This experience provided a real grounding in the thought, care and science that goes into growing food sustainably, and left us all with a deeper connection to and appreciation for the work involved in providing nutritious foods, and the benefits of healthy eating.
After two hours of laboring on the farm, we enjoyed a feast on organic greens, homemade peasant bread and dragon fruit. The salad was a real treat, as uncooked vegetables are something we have learned to avoid due to the health risks associated when you do not have first hand knowledge about the cleanliness of the water source used to grow and then wash the vegetables.
After a quick stop at the Inn, the group then journeyed by bus to the nearby town of Jocotenango to visit the home of Juana and Christina, and to learn more about native weaving and how to make authentic Guatemalan tortillas.
This was a rare opportunity for our students to be invited into the closed neighborhood and traditional life that most tourists will never see. The simple 8 x 20 foot cinderblock room where Juana, Christina and their brother Esteben live is considered middle class for their neighborhood, as they have an indoor toilet and concrete floor. Their sink for washing hands and clothes is outside, and while they have a table top two burner cook stove indoors, most of their cooking is done in the more traditional way, outside over an open fire.