Finding the Farm
After more then 2 hours into a smelly mule ride over muddy streams, thick woods and up steep trails, I crested the ridge and had my first glimpse of what would become Spirit Mountain! Fransisco, officially known as Siete, had spent the better part of 8 weeks relentlessly pestering me to see this property…which didn’t quite qualify as a potential location for the Doulos Dsicovery School, which my wife and I had just founded. I had finally given in to Siete’s persistence, just to get him off my back. Apparently, the plantation’s owner, Sr. Lopez was not longer able to manage the operations and the next generation had no interested in agriculture…so the finca was being sold…and for a great price.
It was hi noon, hot and sticky by the time we dismounted our noble steeds, machetes in hand, and set off by foot to explore. It was 2003 and the farm had not been cared for since Hurricane George decimated the island in 1998. Needless to say it was wild…but I was already falling in love with this unkept paradise. It’s a good thing I was only 33 years old, full of energy and imagination….lacking the grey hair of wisdom. A coffee plantation??….my head was spinning with ideas…it didn’t seem matter to me that I didn’t even drink coffee at this point…or that I didn’t have all the cash to close the deal. All I could think about was what fun it would be to develope this place, take kids camping, hang out with friends….and learn to grow coffee.
I knew nothing about coffee
It’s a very long story…one to tell around the camp fire, between tales of LILO Cabral and the Ciguapas. The very abbreviated version is that I shared my vision with a good friend from Minneapolis, Jeff Loftsgaarden, who eventually became my partner in purchasing the finca. I finally started drinking coffee and have not stopped learning about the business of growing Café Arabica, how incredibly complex and difficult the endeavor is. We were very fortunate to have found an ideal piece of land with virtually perfect conditions.
I ended up with much more than a sore backside that first day on Loma de los Plátanos….drinking from pristine springs, enjoying fresh brewed coffee, majestic views of Pico Duarte and some new friends. Spirit Mountain has become an important, almost scared place for our family and significant crossroads for many of our closest friends.