What makes Spirit Mountain so special?
by Chad Wallace
“We are tenaciously committed to
authentic community development
projects. 100% of the proceeds from
our coffee sales go to supporting
the sponsorship program at
Doulos Discovery School.”
When I think of investing my time….my life in something, it better be important. Living in a developing country can stretch you beyond healthy limits, especially if your interested in doing good, making the lives of those around you better. We’ve taken a very holistic approach to developing Spirit Mountain, and we’ve put great emphasis in sustainability, environmentally, socially and not least importantly, financially. Since acquiring the plantation in 2003, Jeff Loftsgaarden (co-owner) and I have focused on three areas. We first had to restore a multi storied canopy, just right for growing coffee, while creating a rich and varied habitat for the multitude of migratory and native endemic birds of the Cordillera Central. Our reforestation efforts have been extensive in complexity and intentionality. In my “slightly biased” opinion, we’ve developed the most creative agro-forestry model in the Dominican Republic in terms of combining a myriad of fruit trees and high value timber species as a shade canopy for our award winning coffee. Our second focus has been on improving the quality of our coffee, which obviously involves significant supervision and training.
Our full time plantation staff take great pride in their work which is appreciated in the quality of our harvest. Managing an organic plantation is quite complex, and is in many ways, far more expensive than managing a conventional coffee farm. We’ve seen continual improvement in every area of production and coffee quality, and our scores in the latest SCAA convention in Boston confirm the positive impacts our efforts are having. The third and most compelling aspect of Spirit Mountain is directly related to the UTZ mission. Since before the farms inception, we’ve been committed to educational reform. After having lived in the Dominican Republic for 7 years, my wife and I through ourselves into starting the Doulos Discovery School, a Christian Pre K – 12th grade English language, US college preparatory school in Jarabacoa. About the same time, Jeff and I purchased the abandoned coffee plantation that would become Spirit Mountain. Our vision was that this 135 ha mountain paradise would someday be a supporting resource for our educational mission. Since Doulos Discovery opened its doors in 2003, students have been visiting the farm, learning about ecosystems, watching birds, observing the importance of diverse forests and the importance of preserving mountain water resources. Young people and old, from all walks of life and from many different countries have found Spirit Mountain to be a very special place, full of life giving opportunities.
We are tenaciously committed to authentic community development projects. 100% of the proceeds from our coffee sales go to supporting the sponsorship program at Doulos Discovery School. Annually, we sponsor many Doulos students who eventually graduate, many of whom have left Jarabacoa and gone on to US universities, preparing themselves to return with the tools to change their country for the good. We also invest deeply in the community directly next to the plantation. We partnered with the German embassy to build a chemistry lab, a library and preschool/literacy center on the public school grounds. We provide the entire community with clean drinking water and are supporting a local eco-tourism initiative.
Whether you're lending a helping hand with the harvest, resting in a hammock with your favorite book, strolling along one of our birding trails, or racing down “El Loco Puerco” on your DH mountain bike, there is something for you to do. Spirit Mountain is still in its infancy in many ways…we have much work to do. Our dream of becoming the BEST coffee in the Dominican Republic has pretty much been accomplished! Now we want Spirit Mountain coffee to become know as the most sustainably grown, most impactful and socially relevant specialty coffee in the world…I don’t believe were too far off the mark…even now.
Though Krista and I are originally from Texas, Jarabacoa has become our home. Our two girls, Keren and Kate were born here and have grown up knowing one thing…they love the DR!! As a family we are as committed as ever that our lives matter. We pray God will continue to bless this Holy ground, and that Spirit Mountain becomes a legacy for the Wallace and Loftsgaarden families, impacting live for generations to come.
Un Fuerte Abrazo,