Finca Spirit Mountain: First Bird Friendly Farm in the Dominican Republic
April 2, 2013 by Robert Rice
As the first coffee from the Caribbean region to be certified as Bird Friendly®, Finca Spirit Mountain and its owners fit well into the overall goals of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's coffee program. Krista and Chad Wallace, who have lived in the Dominican Republic since the 1990’s, bought what was an abandoned coffee plantation in 2003 in the Jarabacoa region of the country. The total area of the property is some 140 hectares (mostly in ecological reserve), with 32 hectares of coffee, all of which is certified Bird Friendly® (and organic, of course, as a pre-requisite).
Finca Spirit Mountain’s coffee area ranges between 1100 and 1400 meters above sea level, which, along with careful processing, provides one of the Caribbean’s finest quality coffees. The varieties now are caturra and tipica, with some bourbon having recently been planted as well. Coffee harvest stretches from November to April, currently producing around 3600 kilograms each year.
A concerted effort to increase the diversity of the shade tree component on the farm involves the planting of some 50,000 seedlings of 30-plus tree species, most of which are native and/or endemic to the island. Seeds of species that also occur in Central America have been obtained from Costa Rica and Honduras to bolster the genetic stock of some of these species. The coming years will see an increase in this shade coffee area, with a few more hectares coming into production a little at a time.
What is not in coffee production on the property is known as Estancia Natura, an area devoted to what they term sustainable agro-eco-adventure tourism. There are strong connections and support for students at the nearby Doulos Discovery School, and the reserve acts as a study site for students’ ecology projects. More information about the farm, the coffee, the school, and the eco-tourism related to the farm can be found at spiritmountaincoffee.com.