Never did catch up from when the Internet went down and been too busy or too tired to keep things updated. The time has gone so fast. Here’s a quick update…
Several students milked cows early. Sorry I don’t have any pics of that up just yet. I will add more later. Cheese making 102 — tying mozzerella knots.
Loaded up the truck and visited a couple neighboring farms. Ranato’s farm. Ranato is convinced he has to change to obtain long-term sustainability, but he’s moving much more slowly, changing things piecemeal without causing major disruption. He’s a trained agronomist and his approach is very traditional. We looked at some coffee diseases and learned some strategies for managing them. We looked at his hard wood plantings, and a new crop he is trying — chia. Then we went to Joao Neto’s farm. We were greeted with snacks and an invitation to swim in the pool. It was delightful, and though we were supposed to look at the farm, we ended up not getting any further than the pool. Joao Neto’s farm might be the highlight of the week.
We returned to the farm and had a late lunch. A desperate attempt was made to get something done on the water and soil samples. Forgot a couple key items, so didn’t get anything accomplished. Returned muddy and frustrated.
Ate a light dinner. Bruno lead a good discussion on permaculture.
Rafting on the Pardo River. It was the perfect blend of excitement and fun. Everyone survived and there were no major injuries. We then piled into the back of a chicken truck to visit a coffee farm high in the mountains. We stopped half way up to visit a farmer and have a snack, and kept climbing. We helped plant trees in a spring-protection area, and then drove higher. Around every bend the view got better and better, but we kept climbing. The farmer had a little dog who lead us all the way up the mountain. Finally, when we thought it couldn’t get much better, we arrived at the top. There we climbed on a giant, flat rock and gazed across the most incredible landscape many of us had ever seen. See picture below…
The view from 1350 M above sea level in Brazil
We then proceeded down the hill, part way, to have a late lunch with another coffee farm family. So great to experience all these different people, this cultural sampling of individual homes and families. We climbed back into the truck and finished the ride down the mountain in the cooling late afternoon. At the bottom we transferred back to the bus and headed to another look out words can’t describe. See picture below…
Work day. Marcinhos, one the farm’s top hands, gave us a nice lesson on water and the work he did on the farm for his Master’s project. After the presentation we set out to get as much of our water/soil sampling/testing done as we could. We made great headway before stopping for lunch. After lunch we cleaned up and drove into the local village, Igarai. There we visited the Cafe Igarai, the local women craft cooperative we visited last year.
Marcos and Simone arranged for us to visit homes in Igarai. This was a new experience. More cultural reality, and it was a delight. We split into groups of two and three and each visited two houses. Each group had a translator. They welcomed us with open arms, showed us their homes, shared a snack, laughed and learned about each other.
As night fell we hung out in the town square, and welcomed Rita Croce (Marcos and Silvia’s daughter) and her friends from Highland Park who arrived to spend their Spring Break at the farm. Our time here will overlap with theirs by a couple days, but we’ve already enjoyed there teenage energy and what it adds to the the environment.