College Friends in China and Los Angeles

My friends from high school and college are all around the country and the globe, so I was blessed to see three college friends this past February before starting a new vocation on Raspberry Hill Farm in Sullivan, WI. I started the month with a two-week trip to southern China to pay a visit to my friend, Esther, who works for the State Department at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, a city of 18 million people. She will be there for two years, starting back in November, so I was glad to have the opportunity to see her in her new realm of work and society. While she worked most days, I took my time to read and do CrossFit work outs, knowing that once I returned to WI, I would have a lot of items on my plate, transitioning into a new career. I enjoyed seeing her home, meeting her friends and eating and cooking together. She even hosted one of my friends from high school, who happens to be living about an hour-and-twenty-minute train ride from Esther’s place. My friend, Bethany, and I tou…

Mother-Daughter Trip to Ecuador

Happy New Year! I have celebrated at length with my family and friends during the glorious Christmas and New Year’s season, and I am starting to settle in. Before embarking on my next endeavor, I would like to complete my final entry for my journey in Ecuador. At the end of my internship, my mom came to visit me in the magnificent country of Ecuador. This marked the fifth time she accompanied me on one of my travel sojourns. With only six days, I planned an itinerary that kept us in one geographical region of Ecuador, minimizing the time we spent on travel. We started in Otavalo and the farm where I worked, returned to Quito for two days and finished our trip together in the Cloud Forest of Mindo. Otavalo is a small mountain town in the Sierras of Ecuador, home to many artisans specializing in alpaca wool production and crafts. Every Saturday artisans and merchants set up shop around the square and welcome tourists and locals alike to haggle and buy their wares. I have heard that it…

Final Week

My final days passed quickly, as all my days passed on the farm. With many activities needing attention, I had no time to think of the end until it was upon me. Here is what I wrote for Finca La Amistad’s website (

In a short nine-week space, I experienced an enriching internship of diverse opportunities to get my hands dirty and to learn by doing. Waking up every morning to the vista surrounding Finca La Amistad gave me endless pleasure, and working in that environment was exceptional. I reveled in the chance to take a nearly empty garden and turn it into a productive plot, providing vegetables for our daily meals and for an occasional sale to customers. Shelly and Nelly are open to new ideas and praise work well done, and Karina is very knowledgeable regarding microorganisms and organic fertilizers. I will cherish my time here in Ecuador, and I bless their future efforts. I know that Finca La Amistad is going to be pivotal in launching a local organic movemen…

Trees for Free

City Hall of the county of Ibarra attempted to beautify one of the county parks with thousands of trees, but somewhere in the politics of the project, the idea was never implemented; the trees were left to wait, dying in the process. Finca La Amistad was the benefactor of this project-gone-awry when employees from City Hall dropped off 800 trees on the farm at the beginning of last week. Unfortunately, these trees were in sad shape. They had been growing in small plastic bags for two years, and their roots were struggling to escape, even poking through the bags. It was amazing that any of them had survived.  The farm hired four workers to dig holes, averaging labor costs of 1-3 dollars per hole, to plant these suffering trees. I planted 138 trees, and in total, we planted between 300 and 400 trees this week. The remaining trees are waiting for more holes to be dug, to cover the farm with their life-giving characteristics. I was pleased to have the chance to participate in this activi…

Everything is Growing

Upon returning to the farm from my trip around Ecuador, it amazed me how much had grown in those ten days I was gone from the farm. Although my garden was overgrown with weeds, the plants were thriving. I spent about 40 hours removing the weeds and tending the plants. Now, I smile every time I pass the ¼ acre plot. Everything has increased in size. With some rain and sunshine, my plants are thriving. In fact, I will be able to plant more seeds and transplant more plants because some of my crops have already been harvested and more room is now available for other vegetables.  In the short two months that I will have spent here, I have been able to see growth and harvest of many different crops. The beans, corn and potatoes I had planted before I left on my trip have sprouted. My carrots are finally asserting their feathery fronds for all to see. Even the little lamb and baby bunnies have filled out. Nature and its dynamism exhilarate me. I am blessed to be a participant and an observer …

Glimpse of Beautiful Ecuador

--> Since arriving at the end of September, I had been almost exclusively on the farm in Ibarra, in northern Ecuador. Although I have loved being on the farm, dedicating my efforts and time to the activities of this peaceful milieu, I was happy to be able to explore some fantastic parts of Ecuador. My boyfriend, Alex, joined me for a nine-day adventure around central and eastern Ecuador. We traveled to Cotopaxi National Park, where the second highest peak in Ecuador is located, to Tena and La Selva Vida (the rainforest) and to BaƱos, a breath-taking area of waterfalls and green-gilded mountains.

Cotopaxi National Park is about one and a half hours from Quito, the capital, so it was our first stop. We stayed at a fabulous hostel in the middle of nowhere at 11,000 feet, where all our meals were provided. Even though we did not summit the volcano, the views of the volcano were exquisite, especially at night when the glow from the full moon cast an ethereal hue over the snow-cap…

Beans, Corn, Squash, Oh my!

I am likely the slowest corn, bean and squash planter in the world, or in the bottom tier with the rest of my American muchachos. I need to take bean-flicking lessons. After being instructed how to take three beans and flick them into a small hole on the ground that I had just made with a spear-like tool, I went back to bending over and carefully placing the beans and corn into the hole. I tried flicking; really, I did. They went all over the ground like 52-card pick-up. I decided that bending over and proceeding with turtle speed was more efficient than trying to beat the hare to the finish line.
I planted half an acre of one of our fields with bush beans and a quarter acre with pole beans and corn. The squash I planted along a trench that had been dug in the granadilla vineyard to allow water to flow through the land. In the field, the corn is intercropped with beans, squash and amaranth—a high-protein, gluten-free grain that is grown at high altitudes, like quinoa. Inter-cropping …