MEET OUR FARMERS
Our Meet Our Farmers series provides a glimpse into the history, legacy and dedication of the farming families whom we partner with. When you purchase San Francisco Bay Coffee, you are joining our efforts to improve the lives of our farmers and those in their communities around the world.
August 1, 2021
Buena Vista Farm, Colombia
At the far end of town in Concordia, Colombia, a two-hour drive southwest of Medellin, you’ll reach the area known as Casa Grande. The road you’ll find there is only two years old now, and if you drive to its end, the very last house you’ll come upon belongs to 65-year-old Gustavo de Jesús Rodas. You will have arrived at his Buena Vista Farm.
The road you will travel carries incredible significance. Transporting anything to the center of the city used to be done by mule, or on the shoulders of family members and neighbors. A half-mile trek, straight downhill to the city center, and then right back uphill to get home. Now, cars and motorcycles easily transport Gustavo’s coffee to market, along with his crop of corn, cassava beans, plantains, bananas and legumes.
Gustavo’s father, Alejandro Rodas Arango, bought and farmed this land more than seventy years ago. It’s a beautiful and fertile plot, a mile into the sky. The sloping countryside is nestled between mountains and stony ground, with breathtaking views of sunrises and sunsets. Gustavo and his brothers learned to work this land with their father from a very early age. Each of them received a part of the land as an inheritance when Alejandro passed. Eighteen years ago, Gustavo purchased his brothers’ land, and he is now the sole owner-operator of Buena Vista, where he lives with his wife of 32 years, Marleny Valencia, and their children Juan David, Luis Ferney, Leidy Diana, and Maria Alejandra.
Farm work is hard work, and while one of Gustavo’s sons works in the city, the rest of his extended family works on the farm. They are currently two months away from the start of the harvest season at Buena Vista, when Gustavo will augment his work force with neighboring pickers. It’s a big job for a small coffee producer. Gustavo doesn’t employ any advanced technology at Buena Vista, so everything is done by hand.
Four total acres of Gustavo’s multi-acre farm are planted with Colombian and Castillo varietals. The choice of these varietals is intentional, especially amongst smaller coffee farms, because of their resistance to coffee rust. This small spore starts on the leaves of the tree and can grow to consume 50 to 100 percent of the tree’s leaves. That can mean real damage to a small grower’s coffee yield, so each year Gustavo renews any afflicted trees. And this is where San Francisco Bay Coffee comes into Gustavo’s story.
San Francisco Bay Coffee donated 5,500 coffee seedlings to Gustavo and his farm. That donation also came with fertilizer, technical support and advice on all the aspects of his production process. Buena Vista has been a part of San Francisco Bay Coffee's social programs since 2016 and a farmer for coffee purchase since 2018.
In 2019, San Francisco Bay Coffee supported Gustavo and his family by helping him build his new home. This happened before the creation of the current road that leads to Gustavo’s land, so the entire construction process occurred by transporting building materials by mule and on the shoulders of his family members one-half mile straight uphill from the city to the building site. It was an incredible effort and one that Gustavo reflects on with such gratitude, since it fulfilled his dream of having a beautiful and dignified home.
San Francisco Bay Coffee has been instrumental in changing Gustavo’s quality of life and ensuring fair pricing for his farm’s output. As is the case with many small-farm coffee growers, price is key. And with San Francisco Bay Coffee’s support, Gustavo has been able to maintain the highest quality standards while keeping his production costs on track.
Future goals for the Buena Vista Farm include improving the mill machinery to achieve even better quality for Gustavo’s yield and to continue to deepen his relationship with San Francisco Bay Coffee. Gustavo says he’s incredibly proud of his family and for their relationship with San Francisco Bay Coffee. Not only has the quality of his product changed significantly with San Francisco Bay Coffee’s help, but more importantly, his family’s quality of life.
Photography Courtesy of Jhosser Marulanda