History of Finca Las Cruces
They were to find a region with the ideal conditions for growing coffee, and the timing was good. As far back as the 17th century coffee was growing in popularity across Europe, having started with the importation of coffee from Yemen by Venetian traders, but it was in the 19th century that cultivation started in South America – including in the coffee region of Colombia.
Both set of our grandparents came from Fredonia, Amaga and La Mina to this area, but it was my grandfather Juan Bautista Alvarez Correa who settled in Quinchia and build up his family and agricultural base there. I’ve been told stories by my mother that as a young lady she would set off from this farm at 2am to travel on horseback to other fields far in the mountains, to go and cook for all the workers that were preparing the land to plant the first coffee fields in those areas
Our family believe that the welfare of our workers is crucial. We have a continuing programme to improve the living conditions on the farm. Colombia is a very complex society and we believe the best way of making significant improvements is through education. That’s why we support and fund some of the family members of our workers into various education programmes – up to and including university.
The history of this farm can be associated with the history of contemporary Colombia.
The origins of coffee production in Colombia are in the post-colonial era. It was in the second part of the 19th century that a new wave of colonization reached the present-day coffee region, as families moved south from the Antioquia regions, looking for ways to support their families following the downturn in the mining industry in that region. The main factor for these colonizations was to find work on the land, which would allow them to take possesion of the land. This work was mainly carried out by family members.
The farm was inherited by our mother, though due the political instability of the late nineties there were some years when very little attention could be given to it. When our father passed away, it was a crucial moment – should we sell? The emotional attachment was strong, and we decided to keep the farm and to evolve into sustainable production.
Our father was always been keen to keep old fruit trees, and to plant new ones e.g. walnut, rather than intensively farming the land. We enjoy maintaining that tradition.
Our family members are now spread across Colombia and Europe but all of us still regularly visit Quinchia. We have many old friends and connections in the town, and it’s supremely important to us to maintain our relationship with the town, its people, the land and the farm.
Our father taught us the beauty of nature by growing vegetables on our doorstep. We follow his mantra that “while you grow food you won’t go hungry”. Around the farm we grow other crops as well coffee, including plantains, bananas, cassava, beans, corn, and various fruits such as Lulo. Part of our land is maintained as natural forest to protect nature.
Looking after and protecting our two mountain spring water sources is another priority. We rely on that water for both the coffee washing process as well as providing the domestic water on the farm.