Libia Liria Saldariaga
Finca El Rosal
Sevilla, Valle del Cauca
Colombia, Castillo Paraguaycito
Washed, zaranda separation, fermentation measured by acidity (24-36+ hours based on conditions)
Marquesina covered mesh bed and sub-40° mechanical dryer in rainy times
Shade-grown under native hardwoods and intercropped with many food crops; vermicomposting (worms), biological pest control, home-made natural soil conditioners
sweet, plum, peach; winey; citric & tartaric acidity
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Farm and Family Background
Libia Liria and her husband Germán's story is an inspiring one. After working for years as pickers, they scraped together what they could, pawned Germán's bicycle, and bought a 2-hectare abandoned farm with virtually no production in 1978, slept on the floor of the house in ruins, and read by candle light because there was no electricity. Thanks to their systematic, organized approach to farm management and cost control, they have been able to raise and educate their kids and achieve a standard of living most smallholder farmers dream of on a tiny farm at marginal altitude.
After 40 years of small-scale coffee farming, Libia Liria knows all too well the instability of the markets and strives to maintain a self-sustaining homestead, producing as much of the family's sustenance as possible even if some years it means sacrificing currency income that could have been earned had she planted more coffee and less food. Every waste product from one activity is put to use for another, minimizing the family's participation in the formal economy and insulating them from market uncertainty.
Libia Liria's other main priority that goes hand-in-hand with self-sustenance is environmental sustainability. She goes to great lengths to maintain stable production without the use of toxic or any synthetic agrochemicals in order to protect her family which is the farm's only source of labor, to reduce input costs, and as a grandparent, so that the land that has given her everything she enjoys today can continue to provide a happy lifestyle for generations of her family to come.
Exclusively using family labor on the farm also helps to keep costs under control, since everyone has the same incentive to produce the most best coffee possible. While many in Libia Liria and Germán's generation are resistant to changing processes and unwilling to understand speacialty coffee, they have accepted the challenge with gusto and placed in almost all municipal and departamental competitions in recent years.
The fact that tens of thousands of coffee producing families in Colombia are living in poverty with larger plots of better-suited land, the unique case of Libia Liria and Germán's success is all the more remarkable. The only formal training they ever received was from FNC and non-profit seminars, something few take advantage of. Grateful for the good fortune they have worked to achieve, in recent years they have been educating other farmers, FNC, and even foreign NGO educators on sustainable and self-sustainaing farm management.
Valle del Cauca
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