Just on the outskirts of Antigua, Guatemala sits an oasis of edible goodness! Coaba Farm produces organic salad greens and lettuce, spinach, broccoli, Bok Choi, sprouts, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, peas, radicchio, fennel, edible flowers, corn, herbs, bananas, avocados, citrus fruits, berries, chicken, and rabbit – not all of these all the time, but on a seasonal basis. Their goal is not just to sell organically produced food, but to promote sustainability and reduce impact on biodiversity beyond the borders of their farm. On the farm, their greens are the most prominent feature – growing in long rows under a clear plastic roof (picture a greenhouse, now remove the walls). The skinny raised beds are watered by drip irrigation and the rows in between and on the perimeter are mulched with the husks of macadamia nuts from the trees on their property. Fruit trees run the border of the property, and next to one lime tree, I saw a small plot of rhubarb and okra – two crops I have yet to come across so far, and I thought they perhaps were experimenting. Something was definitely eating the okra leaves, but the plants had very large okra pods; the rhubarb looked very healthy.
The farm looks to go beyond organic in their own practices. Of course they do not use any genetically modified seeds; they either buy certified organic seeds from the States, or they produce seeds on the farm. They are just starting to sell seeds in their store as well for local people wanting to plant their own garden with organic seeds. They only fertilize their plants with compost and mulch produced on site, including worm castings from their vermiculture system. They never use artificial lights to grow their plants, and they turn and improve the soil in between each planting in order to make the land better than when they started farming. To manage insect pests, they use companion planting to naturally repel pests, as well as garlic and neem oil.
So when you’re in the Antigua area, follow 5a Avenida Sur away from town….and then keep going. The roads winds a little, but if you keep following it, even after it becomes dirt, you’ll come across the farm on the left just after a small bridge. They do sell to about 100 restaurants in the area, as well as at the local organic shop – Organica, if you don’t want to make the 20-minute trek out to the farm.