This is a short story about a boy who has faith in trees and likes to play in the dirt. My dad was a hydrologist for 30 years in the Forest Service. From a young age, he would show me appropriately managed clear-cuts and came home with stories of rattlesnakes, bears and bobcats. My mom is a nurse practitioner, so I like people too. We left Weaverville, California in 1990 for Atlanta, Georgia.
While serving Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic from 2003-2005 in a very remote and mountainous town called Los Frios, the community wanted grafted avocado trees because coffee wasn’t profitable. There was a voice in my head that said “Do more with coffee!” But like a good development worker, I listened to my community. The avocados failed. In July of 2007, I purchased a 15 acre coffee farm in Los Frios. I have faith that coffee will be a profitable crop, secure water sources, increase biodiversity and sustain itself for generations to come.
Almost three years into the project, I’m a pioneer pushing quality coffee in a region unfamiliar with the techniques. If it fails, I’m the only loser because I’m not asking other farmers to do something new until I have proven it successful myself.