More than 100 years ago, high in the Andean Mountains of the Nariño region in Colombia, Manuel Delgado felt it in his heart to donate his farm to the church he loved. The farm, Finca Villa Loyola, was to be a respite for Catholic church leaders and students to rest and rejuvenate. But church leaders had a different idea, they were more interested in using the farm to help the surrounding community.
Finca Villa Loyola, initially intended for rest and relaxation, has turned into a work of pride producing one of the very best coffees in all of Colombia, winning First Place in the Cup of Excellence in 2008.
Since that victory, a different Padre was placed in the community and coffee farming became a bigger focus of the community. Padre Gerardo Arango Puerto recognized the good fortune the farm had several years earlier and called on a member of the church and local resident, Mauricio Rosero, to lead the efforts in continuing improvement at the farm. It was our good fortune in that Mauricio was a friend of PT’s Director of Quality Control, Maritza Taylor. On our first visit in 2011, we could clearly see the potential of the farm with its high elevation and caturra variety. It was a clear winning combination.
Jose Luis Almeida, the farm manager, oversees the day to day activity on the farm. He is constantly monitoring the crop to ensure its quality. During the harvest, he walks with the pickers to coach them on proper cherry selection to make sure only the ripest cherries are sent to processing. All of the processing is done directly on the farm. Jose cares deeply about the harvest at Villa Loyola. Every year he sets up a tent on the drying patio to sleep there during the drying phase to protect the crop from banditos.
In August of 2012, Padre Gerardo Arango passed away. The Padre was a wonderful man who cared deeply for the people of Nariño and the family that is Finca Villa Loyola. We truly enjoyed working with the Padre to bring you their coffee and he will certainly be missed.
After Padre Gerardo’s passing, leadership of Villa Loyola fell to Padre José Alejandro Aguilar Posada. Our nervousness of starting a new relationship with one of our favorite Direct Trade farms was quickly alleviated when we met Padre Joe. With a worldly education received in Colombia, Brazil, Congo, and the United States, Padre Joe has extensive knowledge and experience in agro-ecology, sustainability, rural development, regional sustainability, and eco-theology. Throughout his life and travels he has been deeply involved in sustainable agricultural development and rural economics. His unique background is perfectly suited for the work at Villa Loyola. With his guidance, Villa Loyola will continue to advance its sustainable practices while improving the lives of the workers and surrounding community.
We are thrilled to be working with Padre Joe and hope to collaborate and learn from him for many years to come.