Swazey goes INTERNATIONAL: Part 1 - Puerto Rico
The techniques employed at Swazey Farms have been compiled from a host of resources. Traditionalists turn to literature and a variety of "how-to" books. Modernists delve into the archives of YouTube for information and inspiration. And adventurists utilize trial and error to determine what methods work for them. We feel our knowledge base is a healthy blend of each of these. Perhaps most informative, though, are the cultural connections we make when travelling abroad.
Sure, operating a farm can prove stressful at times and we firmly believe that hard work should be proportionately rewarded. For the past several years the Swazey Team have travelled internationally in search of respite from our day-to-day AND a re-education.
Though not necessarily "international," in 2019 we ventured to Patillas, Puerto Rico where we visited the Soto family farm. It was here that Uncle Antonio has been living for years, doing what his body allowed him in order to maintain the family farm. Admittedly, the last time we visited was in 2014, so it came as quite a shock to see how much acreage had been reclaimed by the jungle.
The farm itself is carved into the side of the mountain and during its peak was home to a variety of crops including plantain, passionfruit, and guava in addition to horses, chickens and goats. The animals did their part by maintaining the wild vegetation to a manageable level. After many years, the family parted with their livestock and slowly but surely the jungle began to reclaim the hillside.
We ventured up the mountain through the dense underbrush with our crew, blazing a new trail as we went. In our 30 minute climb to the top of the property we discussed the effort it would take to clear this area once again. Too steep for heavy equipment, it was evident the best tool would be a herd of goats.
As we climbed, we came across a variety of produce and native plants growing unencumbered by the denser brush. The favorite of everyone on location was the passion fruit, growing wild and sweet. The pulp contained the sweetest nectar and the seeds added little bursts of textural uniqueness. We ate our fill as we ventured the hillside.
When we finally reached the edge of the property we scaled a rusty barbed wire fence and located a large rock--the corner stone (literally) of the property. From this vantage point we put the bulk of the property to our backs and set our gaze to the horizon where we could see the Caribbean Sea. Most impressive was that in a single gaze we could see the bustling village below, dense jungles to the west, the sandy shoreline and crashing waves while perched atop a mountainside farm--this view had it ALL.
Our journey back to the farm was just one of many stops on our trip but the time spent re-exploring your roots is always well spent. We spent our remaining time speaking with Tio Tonio and recounting family stories under the great Saba tree. This was the first of many journeys outside the continental US for Swazey Farms. We learned a bit and shared our perspectives before packing up and hitting the road once more....