Since Nikki recently spent some time visiting our children in the States and I was working a Fall Foliage Cruise in Canada and New England, our friends Mike Webber and Muzz Laverty house sat for us and took care of our dogs. Mike and Muzz are avid
bird watchers, as are many other folks in Boquete, and take bird watching very seriously. Mike is also a great photographer and took all the accompanying photos on our property.
Now we knew that we are “bird friendly” and we grow “bird friendly” and “shade grown” and “frog friendly” and “rain forest friendly” coffee, as do most of the small and large coffee growers in Boquete. But no one, well only one very profitable local grower I know, has invested the thousands of dollars necessary to buy one of these marketing labels. All of these, including the Fair Trade label, are giant marketing schemes. A grower has to pay thousands of dollars to belong, then fly people down from cities in the US, pay all their expenses, wine and dine them in expensive hotels, so they can proclaim “Yes, you grow coffee” and then
you can use their label. I know of only one grower in town that can afford that! Doesn’t all that stuff … Fair Trade and the rest … help the little guy? No. The true little guy can’t afford that stuff, and the reality is it makes it harder, not easier. Only the big and giant companies and coops can afford those marketing schemes.
All the growers in Boquete I know ARE already bird friendly, respect the environment and grow shade grown coffee. Not for any label, but because it’s the right thing to do! Panamanians respect the environment and because our area is heavily populated by Indigenous folks for whom unity with nature is key to their belief system, being friendly to the environment is just part of who we are.
If you want to grow the kind of fine specialty coffee we grow in Boquete, you need shade without paying for some marketing label or financing trips for muckety muck self-proclaimed experts from the States flying down to tell you. Obviously, it’s a lot more fun for coffee aficionados who are stuck behind desks
and in tiny cubicles in the States to fly down for a working vacation in Boquete than line up at Starbucks.
Panama has 978 species of birds which we love and protect, so of course we are bird friendly. Dah! So we already knew that our farm was bird friendly … we just didn’t know how friendly! Mike and Muzz found, and photographed, birds on our property we didn’t know we had. Muzz said, “If you just sat on your back terrace and watched you could eventually count 100 species right here!”
We know we live in a spectacular spot of paradise, which is why it is hard for us to admit that the time has come in our lives when we need to seriously downsize and offer our beautiful home for sale.