Rosa Melida Gutierrez
FINCA LAS VENTANAS STORY
Fincas Las Ventanas is in the beautiful mountains of Chalatenango, a region known for its climate and fertile soil. Thus, in the municipality of El Túnel, close to the city of La Palma, Rosa Melida decided to set up her farm. In 1998, she started growing about 5,000 coffee plants. Since her father owned farmland and livestock, she helped him herd the cattle and harvest the coffee. She leamed a lot by working with her father, but at that time coffee was sold as cherry. Of all her brothers, she was the only one interested in following in her father’s footsteps in livestock and coffee, today she has 10 cows with which she earns a stable income.
To date, she has been working with coffee for 24 years, and in 2016 she started selling specialty coffee. Rosa remembers that between 2014 and 2015, the price of coffee was so low that she thought about not investing in coffee anymore, but she didn’t leave the farm hoping that the price would go up. So, she decided to keep working and not give up! However, coffee growing has not been an easy task for her with all market shifts and climate changes; one of the challenges she is currently facing is finding labor and always being able to secure sustainable prices for the total production every harvest.
Rosa says, “coffee hasnt been a bad business for me, | have increased my farm working the land, and managed to move forward with the sale of my coffee” On the farm, she is her nephews Nicolás and Héctor help her with the farm activities, as some heavy work on the farm is difficult for Rosa to oversee or carry out. Yet, Rosa personally takes care of the processing, fermentation, drying and storage, and selling of the coffee
Today, 90% of the farm is planted with the Pacas variety. The coffee is pulped during harvest in the aftemoon and washed the next day. Fermentation lasts 16 to 20 hours, depending on weather conditions. Drying takes place on concrete terraces and drying beds and lasts an average of 15 days. In the area where the coffee is grown, it is very cloudy and there are fewer hours of light, so some lots take up to 20 days to dry.