Saturday, October 3, 2015

The big coffee planting season is now behind us

August and September bring regular, torrential rains to our area. It is during these months that the tender young coffee plants are moved from their sheltered nurseries out into the fields. 

Landowners in our part of Honduras are putting in acres and acres of coffee; more every year. It's a fabulous crop for the conditions here - since it can be grown on rocky hillsides, which we have in abundance, and the plants thrive in this climate. Another benefit is that the coffee can be planted in the ground below existing trees, which decreases the likelihood of erosion problems.

The mountainous terrain excludes the possibility of mechanized farming in much of Honduras, and the country people in our area are quite knowledgeable about and experienced with agricultural work. We have no difficulty finding extra laborers when we need them for our busy planting season.

This is the back of Russell's Land Cruiser, with the seats folded up,
moving a load of new coffee plants down to the fields for planting
This hillside has already been planted with coffee plants in straight rows among the existing trees. 

Workers fertilizing the young plants. The fertilizer is in the baskets strapped to their waists,
 and they use the tool, with a single straight blade on the end of a long handle,
to create a small pocket in the dirt near each plant.

In areas where there are fewer shade trees available, the men plant plantain or banana
 plants.These fast growing, leafy plants quickly add shade to the fields, 
as well as providing us with additional crops of bananas and plantains!

Workers spraying to prevent bug and fungus damage. Here in the tropics, either of these can 
wipe out a field of plants pretty quickly, so it's a constant battle to keep them under control.

Russell giving you an idea of the size of the stem
of a coffee plant which went into the ground last year

We're definitely pleased with how our sustainable ministry project is coming along. So far, there has been a large investment of time and money, and we've made great progress! A harvest is not expected in the first or second year, but in spite of that, it looks like we will be able to collect enough beans this year to fill a couple of large sacks, from the plants which went into the ground last year.