Finca Sagrada Community, Ecuador (Sacred Land Farm)
It seems that I do not have much loyalty to any particular country having grown up in so many! I was born in the jungles of Borneo to Dutch parents but had to flee from there when the Dutch were no longer welcome. I then experienced British colonial rule in Malaysia until I was seven. After that, I spent two years in a Waldorf boarding school in England and then we migrated to New Zealand to be together as a family when I was 10. These deeply diverse experiences led to great tolerance for others and to great thirst for diverse cultures. Since New Zealand, I have lived in England again, Australia, America and Ecuador.
Although not of a farming family, I decided as a seventeen-year-old, that I wanted to farm. I was soon dissatisfied with the conventional farms I worked on and found out about Biodynamic farming and Rudolf Steiner. I left New Zealand for an intentional community in Northern Ireland that had a Biodynamic farm and I met my bride to be, a young women from New York.
Over the next thirty-five years, I settled into the States, raising a family and farming in Pennsylvania, New York and Wisconsin. By the time I was fifty-seven, I felt I might need a change. My late wife had died in a car accident and this completely changed my life. I was milking one hundred and twenty cows, struggling with three years of drought and my back was going out from all the work and strain.
A few years after the death of my late wife, I did meet a wonderful woman, Susan Davis and soon after that, we were married. About seven years ago, we had a chance to have a vacation in Ecuador through a friend gifting us with two weeks at her guest house in Vilcabamba, in the southern mountains of Ecuador. Vilcabamba was discovered back in the 70’s as an oasis of health and tranquility. It’s known as the valley of longevity and peace, where Inca kings summered and where warriors went to heal. We knew no Spanish but a vacation there sounded like an adventure.
We did fall in love with Vilcabamba and bought a house under construction. As so often happens in this special town, everything fell into place quickly. Six months later, I sold my cows and Susan and i moved down for a three-month sabbatical. It was so rejuvenating that we kept extending our stay and finally just got our residency visas and settled into the community. We had no thoughts of buying another farm, but we did. We were asked if we would buy a rather isolated farm that the owner could no longer take care of. It’s a beautiful piece of land, surrounded by mountains with a stream and a river boundary.
At the time of buying the land, we were not sure what we were meant to do with it. We tried raising cattle but that did not work because of the fires that spread across the mountains during the dry season, burning every blade of grass.
Now we have developed the farm into a homestead that has the possibility to be self-sufficient. We do have a thousand-acre mountain but we do not utilize that. At the base we have about fifteen acres of rolling pasture with lots of water for irrigation. This is where we live and concentrate all our activity.
We have about two acres of really flat land where we have our gardens, surrounded by a food forest. We inherited mature avocados and mandarin trees and lots of coffee. Since then we supplemented with bananas, papayas, passion fruit and a variety of other fruit trees.
We have goats and cows for milk and cheese, chickens, bees and three burros that can carry supplies when needed.
Our first active partner was Leisha. She fell in love with an over- grown forest that she has transformed into a food forest full of flowing water and sculptures of gnomes and fairies and goddesses. This is her beloved Magical Forest (see MagicalForest.info).
It has been a challenge learning how to farm here, but it has been fun. We have a great Ecuadorian partner Cristian, who has the same love of the land and animals as we have. I can depend on him for local customs and I can bring in some new ideas, especially Biodynamic practices. We make a great team.
Two years ago, we decided to live more permanently on the land. We have built adobe cabins and put up tents. We have now finished our house and community center.
We offer apprenticeships on Biodynamic farming and are starting to offer retreats on living simply surrounded by the beauty of nature, while reconnecting to one’s deeper self and purpose in life.
As the land and ideas have evolved, we have felt that it would be right to share this beautiful spot with more people. We are actively looking for partners who would respond to our life style.
Our mission statement is:
We are manifesting an intercultural Biodynamic self-supporting homestead over which the Condor and the Eagle fly as one.
We envision different opportunities for our partners and hope for diversity in skills and age. Some are folks who do not need to earn an income but who wish to pursue their interest in a beautiful rural setting. Other younger folks, who need to earn income, can have a small farm-based business such as growing vegetables and running retreats.
We think the land can sustain about five families and we do have a set of guidelines that we can supply. As we grow, we are looking for people who are drawn to the land and our mission statement and who are compatible to our lifestyle.
For us, moving to Ecuador has been quite an experience. We still travel to the States once or twice a year and Susan in particular is still very active there with her work.
If you are interested to find out more about Walter you can buy his book, A Farmer’s Love, through Amazon and also go to his web site growbd.org
You can download Susan’s book free, The Trojan Horse of Love, at KINSinnovation.org or CapitalMissions.com, which describe both her business and philanthropic initiatives, very inspiring.
Leisha Naja is very active on facebook and also has a web site at MagicalForest.info. and http://www.fincasagrada.com
For more information about Finca Sagrada you can contact Walter at waltermoora@gmail,com