We are the third generation of the Cuartas Alvarez family to take on the stewardship of Finca Las Cruces. We are determined to carry forward our family tradition of sustainable agriculture, cultivating the highest quality coffee, combining this with our commitment to our local community by providing employment and supporting education projects for our workers and their families.
In our opinion, sustainablilty in coffee production starts with the finances of the coffee producers, this is why we are reaching out to broader markets by trading directly overseas. Our sustainable approach covers both the beauty, health and vitality of our land, and the well-being of our people, out into the future.
A mantra that we’ve proudly inherited from our father is that “while you grow things you won’t go hungry”. Across the farm we plant a variety crops as well as coffee, including plantains, bananas, cassava, beans, corn, and various fruits. The variety of crops grown ensures that there is employment throughout the year, not just during the coffee harvest. What we don’t eat on the farm is sold in local markets.
Observing the speciality coffee scene during my working career as a restaurateur in Europe gave me the impetus to evolve the methods we use on our farm, to embrace organic, clean and sustainable agricultural practices.
The first step was the introduction of crop rotation. Once considered old fashioned, we now understand that rotation is an essential tool to maintain and improve the health of the soil. We planted the coffee trees in stages, having first analysed the soil composition of each of our various plots. On many of our plots we’ve kept the mature walnut trees, and grow plantains as a second crop in between the coffee.
Part of the farm is maintained as a small native forest, protecting local fauna and flora and vital to maintain the health of our two natural spring water sources.
Human input in agriculture is essential. Our workers live locally and maintaining employment opportunities in our community is very important to us. We have a continuing programme to improve the living conditions of the families who live and work on the farm.
In our journey to sustainable agriculture, we have been grateful for the assistance and guidance of our local coffee federation. They helped us upskill our workers, training them in the sustainable management of our trees, employing organic methods. The federation provided formal training programmes for our workers, combined with on-site work with an agronomist. We care about safety as well as efficiency, in every part of the farm. We’ve invested in new processing facilities and updated equipment across the farm.
Agriculture is the future of this planet, so we need to make it sustainable. One example of our organic path is the way we keep our trees healthy. We have stopped using chemicals. Now we control pests with fungus. An example of our recycle and reuse philosophy is how we create compost made from the husk of the coffee bean. That compost is returned to the plots to improve soil quality.
We proud of the improvements we’ve achieved so far but not we hope we aren’t complacent. Our philosophy is to always aim to do better every year.
This has been our target ever since taking over the farm years ago.
“while you grow food you won’t go hungry” Juvenal Cuartas