Situated in the cloud forest, at an altitude of 1960m above sea level, there is a broad diversity of flora and fauna to be found here at Finca Cafetera Momota.
The area of the farm was deforested leaving behind a ‘fragment of forest’ located in the Barro Blanco canyon. The area survived the colonizers of the Andean regions in Colombia through its transformation into agriculture and livestock use. At Finca Momota we try to examine biodiversity of this historical land and study how to work towards its conservation.
Along our ravine is our forest surrounded by coffee and paddocks. In it we find marsupials common to the area, for example; various bats including the rare trompudo brazileño bat (Lonchophylla Mordax), mountain dog (Speothos Venaticus), and caucana duck (Penelope Perspicax), among other species.
There is also a native Wax Palm forest that is over 80 years old. We work to protect the forest, allowing natural regeneration and planting native tree species. These include black cedar (juglans neotropica), chachafruto (Erythrina edulis Triana ex Micheli), Qiebra Barrigo (Trichanthera gigantea), guamos (Inga Spuria), yarumos (Cecropia Paltata), árbol loco (Montanoa Ovitafolia) etc., whilst also restricting the volume of visitors.
Here at Finca Momota we are combining permaculture design with ancestral techniques passed on to us by the elders of Salento. This combination recognises the value of long practised wisdom for high quality coffee production, whilst acknowledging that our practises must also reflect the need to protect and enhance the richness and biodiversity of the entire micro-ecosystem of our land, not solely the coffee plants. In this way we hope to develop our finca into a robust self-regulating system that utilises its own resources to protect and grow with minimal outside or non-natural chemical input. We hope to serve as an educational example of how environmentally sustainable practices and economically motivated production can be mutually beneficial.
Permaculture is a philosophy that can be turned into practical application for any sector of human existence, the most popular being garden design and food production. It is based upon a system of 3 ethics (earth care, people care and fair share) that guide our actions towards being environmentally considerate, personally responsible and clearly self aware of our needs vs our wants. These ethics are guided by 12 core principles.
The application of which is aided by a system of zoning that asks us to develop in considered steps from the core of our daily life where our practises are most regular e.g the home, outwards to the areas that require less frequent attention e.g. the forest. Using these tools any person can develop a permaculture design that is uniquely suited to the environment, people and goal of any project.
Using the permaculture design principle of ‘observe and interact’ before acting, we first made a comprehensive survey of the immediate conditions and existing resources of our land. Using these key observations we decided on our design using the practice of zoning.
ZONE 0: THE HOME. This is where we are currently focusing most energy. We have reinforced the original small structure and added an extra floor which will serve as a guest dormitory. The house is constructed largely of bamboo, which can be locally sourced or from our finca itself and it relatively sustainable. We have cleared and secured the first paths leading from the house to the main areas of zones 1-4. We also dug a dry toilet and dug flat terraced spaces for our camping guests.
ZONE 1: GARDENS FOR DAILY USE. Immediately around the house we have begun cultivating small growing beds where we have some soft vegetables and fruits, herbs and we also have chickens who give us fresh eggs daily. There is also a small nursery of plants and trees close to the house.
ZONE 2: ORGANIC GARDENS. We have dug terraced, angled growing beds further from the house. This design helps to retain water and nutrients as much as possible. The area is fenced and covered to protect from wildlife. Here we have begun to plant crops that only need attention once or twice a week e.g. cucumbers, courgettes, tomatoes, lettuce and chard. We have established a wormery and standard compost sight to compost our organic food waste. We have also started producing organic pesticide using Finca Momota dandelions.
ZONE 3: THE COFFEE PLANTATION. We have employed a skilled and knowledgeable local workman to help us manage the pasture and begin harvesting and preparing our coffee beans. We are already selling our coffee at our finca and in Salento. We have planted a large number of young banana trees and other native trees around the coffee plantation that will eventually provide shade, nutrient fixing, food and pasture control. An Arábico coffee nursery has been started so that we can gradually replant Arábico in place of Castillo, which has a much shorter lifespan. In addition we have placed some large growing beds among the coffee to provide food e.g. corn, nutrient fixing e.g. green beans, or too attract beneficial insects e.g. strawberries. Tours are now available through this unique coffee plantation. We have identified and begun harvesting some of the other edible produce of our land including limes, oranges, bananas, plantanos, guineos and guayaba. These can be enjoyed by guests and marketed locally.
ZONE 4/5: THE FOREST AND WAX PALMS: We wish to leave this native forest as natural as possible in order to preserve it as a biodiverse habitat for wildlife. In the future we would like to prepare minimal-impact paths so that guests can experience this special place, as well as a yoga/meditation centre looking onto the majestic palms. The land has its own water source but for now it is not accessible; paths would help us use this resource.
More in Salento
Near to Salento, Quindio and within the coffee region, you can find many large national parks and reserves that represent the rock biodiversity of this region. Here are some that we recommend.
- Valle Cocora
- Estación biológica Estrella de Agua
- Reserva natural AICA la Patasola
- Parque Nacional Natural los Nevadas (bosque de niebla y páramo)
- Reserva Natural Acaime
- Sitio Arqueológico Morro Gacho
More information at: www.rutasdelpaisajeculturalcafetero.com