Juan Camilo Campos is the man who runs Finca Campo Hermoso, a traditional farm based in La Plata, Huila. What stands out from this farm is its beauty (“hermoso” means “beautiful”) that comes from respect for traditions.
Juan inherited the farm from his ancestors with more than 80 years of history. Over the years he also bought some hectares to expand the land and broaden his coffee production. He currently lives and works at the farm.
There are no fixed employees at the finca. Juan only hires temporary workers (between 35-40 people) to help him during harvest seasons. Like many traditional Colombian coffee farmers, Juan’s daily routine begins one hour before his employees arrive at the farm. He wakes up at 5 am and after having breakfast, he joins his team to work in the land until 4 pm. The workday usually ends when they weigh all the coffee cherries collected.
He met us thanks to Occicafe, one of our partners in Colombia, we took it as a sign that our Colombian network works successfully.
“The field is the future of our country“ – Juan Camilo Campos
Finca Campo Hermoso sits at an altitude of 1470 m above sea level. The main varieties he produces are Caturra (with 7500 plants) and Castillo (with 8000 plants). He applies two different processes for the specific varieties:
- Caturra: the process is natural and includes anaerobic fermentation of 90 hours. The cherries are dried from 3 to 4 days on the so-called marquesinas. Then, in order to stabilize the the sugars, the cherries are placed in sealed bags for another 4 to 5 days. The process is completed when the cherries are transferred to the dryer for 2 days and then to a storage room for 4 days at a temperature between 30-35°C.
- Castillo: the fermentation process includes 12 hours dry fermentation in cherry and 36 hours in the shaded tank (also dry). Juan uses Yagrumo tree (a South-American term for some unrelated rainforest trees with palmate leaves) to create shade for his tank. The following dry process is traditional and implies the use of a standard dryer and silo storage after.
Life as a coffee farmer could be even harder than you think. Besides the unfair prices of the market, growers like Juan have to deal with a lack of seasonal manpower or lack of quality inputs. Moderate use of fertilizer is used to control the spread of any possible plant disease. The latter could indeed affect the whole production and be a tragic drawback for coffee producers, whose life fully go around the fieldwork.
Together with The Coffee Quest Colombia, we provide added value to farmers. We are glad to see when they can finally reaches the aimed quality standard. Allowing our Colombia counterpart to provide a price to compensate the efforts, as Juan Camilo can witness.
Finca Campo Hermoso takes care of the environment, by reducing as many chemicals as possible when plant diseases occur. (Cultural control for broca and fungicides 2 times per year.)
Juan carefully manages the residual water through filters and specific tanks. Moreover, he left the cherries to decompose in the soil so that the resulting compost can be then reused as fertilizer for the coffee plants.
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