When you have a dream or vision in Nicaragua, you do not have the resources or even a realistic expectation of turning a dream into reality. Nicaragua has endured natural disasters and wars that have resulted in the population being the second highest poverty nation in the western hemisphere. El Recreo Coffee Farm has been created through the vision of Carlos and Leana rooted from over 50 years ago. They have endured wars, loss of crops, loss of land, and loss of everything but the shirts on their back. They had to seek political asylum, send their own children to safety, and then buy their land back again after the war. Their dedication, hard work, and relationship with their community has kept their dream alive. Carlos and Leana are Heroes.
The children of El Recreo Coffee Farm are the exception in comparison to other children living in Nicaragua. Leana has overseen the education of more than 3,000 Nicaraguan children. This is the only coffee farm in Nicaragua that does not allow child labor. Carlos and Leana pay their workers more than the other farms with the understanding that if they have children, the children will go to school on the farm and not work. Leana instills in everyone around her that “Education is the one thing that nobody can take away from you.” The children are fed three meals a day, educated, and encouraged to play. The farm now has a trade school, university accredited school, and a vision for a school for young women.
El Recreo farm provides their workers with housing, food, healthcare and education. The opportunities at El Recreo are having a lasting impact on the community and country.
The sounds of the farm are like a soul filling song that you want to replay over and over again. No electricity for lighting meant that when the sun set, everyone went to bed. I fell asleep to sounds of random animals on the tin roof, Luna the dog keeping everyone safe, and the serenade of jungle frogs. These nights were some of the best nights sleep I have ever had. I woke to the sounds Juana making tortillas at 3:00am, Carlos leaving to pick up workers at 4:30am, and the kitchen staff arriving to prep the day’s meals. The workers were joyful at every moment, from the beginning of the day, through the very hard work of the day, to the very end of each day.
The success at El Recreo are abundant everywhere. It is not hard to immediately see all the things we take for granted in our everyday lives, which is ironic because the everyday joy of life at El Recreo, is also immediately obvious. Yet higher education, succeeds in offering real future opportunities for everyone that reaches higher. Leana and Carlos are approaching their 80’s yet work tirelessly everyday. Their children are passionate about the farm and continue to help. Their daughter Miriam Morales has a thriving coffee shop in Boston called El Recreo that serves their delicious coffee and was responsible for connecting Biggby to El Recreo.
Below are more images; your looking glass as a glimpse into the everyday life and culture so many beautiful people share.
Granada and Managua
We were fortunate to have a day touring Granada, Managua, and Masaya Volcano National Park. I could spend years photographing the people, historical architecture, natural beauty.