Tree nurserys, a work day in Boca Del Monte

A local extentionist, Ernesto, came and visited the other day to do a tree nursery. The trees are for a reforestation project, and some will probably be used to shade coffee farms.

From may

The tree nursery.

Building the table for the nursery

From may

My host dad hanging out in my room/house.

From may

My host uncle, Elio, dishes out the coffee from a five gallon bucket. It gets you going when you drink it in bulk.

From may

The ride up to my site at 7 in the morning from the back of the pickup truck.

Work Santa Fe

Pictures from the second week of the business seminar. About 8 of us PCV are working with 30 tomato farmers on Agricultural business concepts and organisational techniques.
The farmers are great to work with, incredible nice people, harder working, and a great sense of humor, all necessary for having a sucessful workshop or seminar.

We do ice breakers to keep the energy level high.

This is Beatrice.

The day after the seminar we built a wooden depulper together as a group of about 10. Many of the tomato farmers are also coffee farmers. Hermongenie, pictured above, came out from my area to teach the farmers how to build the depulper.

From Seminar in Sa…

Some Quotations

Here are some Quotations that help me to think through my work here in Panama with coffee, when I’m thinking about developement.

Quotation from

Steve Talbot, a wise neo-Amish philosopher and author of Netfuture, asks a very insightful question in his latest issue:

Why does a certain obvious distinction not figure more centrally in economic theorizing – namely, the distinction between the application of capital in order to increase that capital itself, and its application in order to achieve something worthwhile in the world? Or, more simply: why do we not distinguish between using money to make money, or using it to do meaningful work?

J.B. Say

“The entrepreneur,” said the French economist J. B. Say around 1800, “shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.”

greenspan quotation

“Remember, markets are not ends in themselves.They are constructs to assist populations in achieving the optimum allocation of resources” (p. 461).

Robert Riech

They argue Americans should learn to accept a lower standard of living and American business must adjust to a smaller domestic economy. This argument leaves out one salient fact:

Considered as a whole, the nation has enough productive capacity to provide a higher standard of living for its citizens and also be sustainable. With the right incentives, we could dramatically reduce energy use and carbon emissions while continuing to grow at a rate that provided most people with good jobs at good wages. The problem isn’t economic growth per se.

You know you are hairy when…

I’m hiking down this road to a meeting a couple miles away. I´m wearing shorts, which is rare, because usually I wear pants. Despite living in a tropical country, that’s the style, and I´ve gotten use to it. My legs rarely see the sun of day. When I do choose to wear shorts, the reflection off my thighs and lower legs is blinding before the direct sunlight burns me tomato red.

I bump into a lady who lives on the road and is walking down to the meeting that I’m going to. She is with her son.

She starts out the typical Ngabere dialogue, that goes like this :

Woman:Where is your Bossi (girlfriend/wife/mother of your children)?

me: I don’t have a Bossi.

Woman: How do you eat? who cooks your food? Your clothes are clean, who washes them?

me: I cook my food. I wash my cloths, or I take them down to town and have them washed at the Laundromat.

Woman: You must be really sad and lonely. You must be really cold at night sleeping by yourself.

Me: its not so bad, we live in Panama, its not that cold. even here in the hills, all you need is an extra blanket.

Woman: You must be so sad and cold. So cold!

From here they usually ask me who makes my coffee, and are general surprised and have disbelief that I live alone. This time though she lost track of the conversation, the typical dialogue, and started to ask her son about my glow in the dark legs.

I wasn´t sure what she was saying at first, but she was pointing at my legs and saying “boudiari” which sounds like the last name of a french Canadian hockey player. I remembered that this word means naked

she kept pointing to my legs.

Then she stops me, walks over to me, and rubs my legs.

At this point I´m pretty confused.

“I wasn´t sure that the hair on your legs were part of your legs,” she tells me. “Your legs are very hairy – I thought the were some kind of new pants.”

No no,  I’m just very hairy, and my legs glow in the dark.
They help me stay warm at night.

Ag Business Seminar

I spent the past week in Santa Fe Veraguas working at an Agro Business Seminar.

40 tomato producers are preparing to recieve a loan to build green houses so they can increase thier production during the rainy season. The rains are so heavy there that with out a green house the tomatoes are destroyed by fugui. With a greenhouse the farmer can protect the tomatos.

Many of these farmers have never recieved a loan, so my friend Maria designed and organised the seminar to help some farmers learn about basic practical business concepts. Many farmers were happy to have the opportunity to get the loan, but at the same time were worried that the project might fail, and that they might not be able to pay the loans off.

It was a great experience this week to get to work with the tomato producers, and I get two more three day sessions with them over the course of the next two months.

Coffee Ranger

This is my blog about coffee in Panama

Can people use coffee to get out of poverty? That is my big question.