Although they stayed in Carazo for service, Katie and Austin work in an environment that could well be mistaken for a more remote location, with its lush tropical beauty and rugged terrain. Gaia Estate is a 90-acre family-owned organic farm in Diriamba that has earned Nicaragua’s only “Bird Friendly®” seal of approval from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. Shade-grown coffee is the main crop, although the farm hosts over 80 tree species as well, including fruit trees like banana, citrus, pitahaya and avocado.
Austin has identified and marked trails (and even discovered several new ones), helped make and apply organic fertilizer, planted Bucaro trees, weeded, and accompanied farm workers on visits to schools and families in the surrounding community. Katie is helping to care for and train Gabiota, the farm’s horse, and has also helped with transplanting tomatoes and looking for local suppliers of live chickens. In the coming weeks Austin and Katie also will be learning about vermiculture, possibly helping in the early stages of building a biodigester, and working with the farm administrator on ideas for eco-tourism initiatives involving the farm. With the exciting things happening there, it’s likely we’ll be watching Gaia Estate long after the service project has ended.
Co-leaders Lisa and Jen