Maehl talks about settling on their homestead in Costa Rica.
March/April 1972

Report From Them That's Doin'

Now that we're settled on our homestead here in Costa Rica and have some time for something other than coffee picking and gardening, I thought I'd drop you folks a line.

It's the rainy season now so we have all the natural irrigation we can use . . . and more. Our gardens are planted and we've been eating fresh carrots, peas, lettuce and garlic for a while now and there's still much more to come yet.

A while back we bought an old gray mare for $20 and she helps us get our main crop—coffee—to market. It's a shame that we have to sell all our delicious organically grown beans to the big-money coffee people. We're frantically trying to rustle up a way to sell direct to folks in the States—perhaps to communes or some such—and ship them by land or water. (Air freight costs are about $1.00 a pound . . . obviously impractical.)

Another family is expected to join us soon and by spring we'll be farming our 15 1/2, acres cooperatively, It'll be wonderful to have a few friends nearby to share all the fun (and all the work, too).

Since arriving in Costa Rica, we've been corresponding and swapping seeds and warm weather farming information with some folks we've met through CONTACT. They've been a great help to us since the information in most organic gardening magazines and articles we've found is pertinent to temperate climates only. There is, however, an excellent book on tropical small farming called THE FARMER'S S GUIDE, available through the Jamaica Agricultural Society. It touches on everything from livestock to cover crops to good varieties of vegetables for our climate. Best of all its emphasis is on organic methods and chemicals are given little mention. We've read and researched every book on tropical agriculture we could get our hands on, and this one is the best by far. We hope to write about some of our own experiments and adaptations, and will send them along once we're sure they work.

As soon as we can get it together, we'll send you a sample of our very own homestead-produced, roasted and packed coffee beans. Until then, thank you for the help you've been to us. If it hadn't been for those first few hopeful issues our family would still be in Boston, thinking the big move wasn't practical.