Finca el Suelo is a 7 hectare farm located in El Vegon, in the municipality of El Pital in Huila, Colombia. It lies on an altitude of 1650 - 1700 MASL. The farm used to be a part of the farm Finca Tamana, owned by Elias Roa. Tim Wendelboe bought the land from Elias in 2015, and started planting coffee on the land.
Most of our organic agricultural practices has been learnt from Dr. Elaine Ingham. We work only with nature, making our own compost as the only fertilizer. Our soils are continuously checked by using our light microscopes to evaluate what biology our soils have, and what we need to correct by adding more of the organisms our coffee trees need to thrive, and for our soils to be healthy. You might call our farm organic, but we choose not to be certified. Still, we refuse to use chemical pesticides and mineral fertilizers, as that will destroy the life in our soils that our plants are so dependant on.
This is the first time we farm coffee, and we certainly haven't farmed anything before, so we consider this a learning project. Our goal is to figure out how to raise coffee quality and increase production with sustainable farming practices, and apply different farming techniques based on the knowledge we have gained throughout the years.
Finca El Suelo Timeline
Harvested 3 coffee cherries in July
Total of 600 coffee trees are growing
Plantain is growing
Neverending adding of wood chips
Citrus is growing
Adding loads of compost extract
Adding more compost tea
17 Caturra Trees are growing in shade
About 100 Typica trees left.
400 Geisha trees was planted
Farm is not progressing at all because the soil is not healthy and I have made a lot of small mistakes. In general the soil is too dry and compact due to no shade trees growing on the farm for many years and moderate grazing by cows. I also need to work a lot more.
We have planted over 8 different kinds of shade trees and want to add more
Visited Dr. Elaine Ingham for 5 fantastic days at her Celebration Farm in Plumas National Forest in California. I learned so many important details to implement at our farm in order to get the good biology back to our soil.
I took ownership of the parcel of land that would be come Finca El Suelo
Lots of applying compost tea
Planting shade trees
The idea for Elias to sell me land came to fruition
Planted my first seeds
InFebruary 2015 we planted about 2,5 hectares with 4000 Typica trees. These trees are planted 2,5 meters apart to ensure they get a lot of space and sunlight.
This particular Typica has shown great quality in the cup in other areas with higher altitudes, so we are interested to see if we are able to grow coffee of the same quality at our altitude. Unfortunately In 2018 there is only 100 trees left and although a lot of them are struggling there are some trees that are growing well and we would like to plant more of this cultivar after we have been able to establish more shade trees on the land.
In February 2015 we planted about 3000 Geisha trees. These trees were planted 2,5 x 2 meters apart in 2 hectares.
We planted 1000 more in 2018. Since a lot of the trees from 2015 already had died we now only have 400 trees growing, but we will be replanting more in 2019.
The reason that we planted Geisha is pretty obvious. It has shown to be one of the best cultivars around when it comes to flavor. Geisha also has some resistance to leaf rust but it does not like to grow in full sun, so we have to implement more temporary shade until our shade trees are up and running.
We planted about 1500 Caturra trees in January 2016. These trees are planted 2 meters apart. The seeds were obtained from Finca Tamana. The reason for planting Caturra is that we want to measure if we are able to raise the coffee quality with our organic/biological practices, as compared to the conventional mineral fertilizers applied at our neighbouring farm, Finca Tamana. In 2018 we only have about 40 trees left.
In our tiny variety carden, we have the following cultivars:
Considered to be the parent plant (Coffea Canephora being the other) of Coffea Arabica.
Supposedly an Ethiopian cultivar.
Another tall and slender coffee tree that looks like a column. Originates from the plantation of P. J. S. Cramer.
Supposedly an Ethiopian cultivar.
This bourbon cultivar blooms all year round hence the name. Originates from Brazil.
Typica cultivar from Colombia. We found these trees at Finca Tamana and they tasted really good so we decided to plant some of them to preserve the cultivar.
Originates from the Boma plateau, Sudan/Ethiopia.