La finca / The farm
I always write about my mother and her garden, and that’s because it is really she who takes care of it and plants it and waters it. But that’s not to say my dad doesn’t like growing things. I suppose it’s just not flowers!
My dad actually owns a very small and rather neglected farm near the town of Tonacatepeque, El Salvador, which he inherited from my grandfather. It’s neglected, unfortunately, because as anyone who has land knows, it’s expensive to keep a farm running, it require investing financially as well as plant-wise and when you don’t live off the farm (and we don’t) it’s difficult to invest what needs to be invested. In our case the problem is the cost, more than the will.
Also, I have to say, it was impossible for my dad to do much before my grandfather died (he died last December at age 99) because even though my dad had received it, my grandfather still considered it to be his, which makes sense in a away. But it made it so that my dad couldn’t make many decisions and it meant that my grandfather sometimes had things done at the farm that my dad had not planned for but had to pay for.
My grandfather, I think kept the farm as a hobby (he and my grandmother also didn’t live off it) as a way to remember perhaps that he had grown up on a farm (my great grandfather did live off his land, and also worked for other landowners, overseeing their land) in Jayaque. But his intention over the years was certainly not to make the land commercially productive. That didn’t mean he didn’t sell what he planted – mostly coffee – he did – but as the price of coffee fell, it became more difficult to maintain the coffee plants. Now they are quite overgrown, and you can walk undeneath them without stooping (well, if you’re as short as me you can! =) I’m only 4 feet 10 inches) and coffee, unless it’s organic coffee, really does not sell all that well.
So now my dad – because it is really he who owns it – has this farm, and he woud like to make it productive. But how do you do that without capital? It is difficult to have an opinion, as well, because he wants to do what he wants to do – in a way I understand that, because my granfather was such a domineering man that it wasn’t until he died that my dad truly could do as he pleased with the land, and I think for him it has been like stretching your wings and flying, finally. But for me and my siblings it’s hard, because we – well at least I – feel more and more alienated from the farm, as nothing that we say is really taken into consideration. Tha noni plant is the big thing right now, and my dad – last I heard – had planted 100 noni trees!! Is this wise? Should we rely on just one crop? The farm also produces very small amounts of fruits (oranges, bananas, mangos) and vegetables/flowers (loroco, an aromatic flower we use for cooking and to flavor cheese).
Well, at least he is selling everything the farm produces now, which was actually a suggestion from me. It used to drive me crazy that my dad felt that the amounts the farm produced were so small that it wasn’t worth selling them, because, he told me at one point, for I think it was oranges, he would only have gotten the equivalent of $10 dollars or so, and I said, ‘but it’s ten dollars you didn’t have before!’ Of course the amounts he gets are sometimes ridiculously small, but my view that something is something. It could be wrong, of course, I am not a business-type person, but it just seems wrong to me to let the stuff rot rather than try to sell it. So now he makes an effort to sell it. It doesn’t always sell, so them we have oranges and sometimes we give the oranges away to the rest of the family as well.
The reality though is that the farm does not produce very much. I think it could, if we could invest heavily in it. But at the moment that is impossible. =(
- 25 Aug, 2008
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Gardening with friends since
26 Feb, 2008