A Tale of Two Farms

By: Dana Foster

El Portal comes from the Vides family, and specifically producer Renardo “Nayo” Ovalle Vides, a third generation coffee producer in La Libertad, Huehuetenango. In 1958, Nayo’s grandfather Jorge Vides founded their first family farm which he named Finca La Bolsa, and several years later purchased an adjacent farm called Finca El Sarral. El Portal is a blend of stellar coffees from these two farms, both of which are nestled between two steep mountains. The name (which means gate or entrance in Spanish), represents the area where La Bolsa and El Sarral unite. This Caturra variety coffee is wet processed on site at Beneficio La Bolsa, and then dried largely by sun on patios or in one of two guardiolas.  Coffee is then transported off site for hulling, grading and export.

Coffee certainly runs in the Vides family and beyond. Nayo’s wife, Jaqueline De Ovalle is a certified Q grader and plays a large role in assigning coffees to customers as well as blending like coffees. Beginning in 2014, both began to undergo renovations and Caturra was heavily planted in the area where these two farms adjoin. Aside from their dedication to quality, the family also has a deep respect for the land, history of the area, and local community members. In 1980, Jorge Vides founded an elementary school for children of farm and mill workers as well as neighboring communities.  Nearly 40 years later, the school is stronger than ever, and in 2012 Finca La Bolsa opened the doors to Association Coffee Care – a project that seeks to reduce child labor and improve quality of life for coffee pickers and their families through vocational workshops for children between 2-14 years of age. We were fortunate enough to see some of these workshops in action where students were learning to knit, paint and play music. They are equally focused on environmental sustainability and much of the natural forest remains throughout the farms, such as tall pines. La Bolsa is fortunate to have two rivers running through the farm which provide water for irrigation as well for wet milling.

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