“Come to Colombia and see with your own eyes what our country has to offer,” is the advice biologist and ecopreneur Adriana Gomez offers to those considering the South American country for a unique tourist experience or investing in organic farming and social enterprises.“Discover new places and meet and buy from small food producers,” she told OWN during a recent visit to her farm near Raquira and Villa de Leyva, two picturesque towns with spectacular views of the Andean mountain range in the Boyacá region.
“Most small farmers do not have organic certification, but many still follow ancestral methods.” There is the controversial ICA regulatory Resolution 970, which establishes requirements for production, collection, storage, imports, exports, trade and use of seeds in Colombia.
And Gomez says producers are becoming conscious of the importance of recovering ancient seeds, and consumers are cautious about GM foods (mainly corn and soybeans) that are imported and widely distributed.
Gomez has traveled all over the world but is amazed when she visits little villages in remote mountains or valleys in her native Colombia.
It is a beautiful country indeed, with diverse landscapes and climates: the arid Guajira region touching the Caribbean Sea; the Candelaria Desert in Boyacá; the deep valleys between the Andean mountains, providing the perfect environment for coffee and exotic fruits; the lush Amazon rainforest, and the flat, vast prairies east of the country.
Gomez has a deep respect for the work of farmers. She once grew aromatic herbs and produced vinegar and spice mixes for her store in Bogota, and to supply other vendors.
“Farmers face many challenges related to weather, pests, lack of water or too much rain, all factors affecting logistics, yield, pricing, and profits.”
Near the land her family has enjoyed for four generations in Raquira, three years ago Adriana and her partner Andres Calderon purchased 60 hectares of a spectacular place called San Pedro Reserve.
The site offers stunning views of Sutamarchan, Tinjaca, Villa de Leyva and Raquira. It is the highest mountain in the area, at one point covered with trees and other vegetation.
When Gomez and Calderon purchased the land, deforestation and erosion prevailed.
Now Gomez and Calderon have an ambitious plan: to regenerate the site, developing a colorful and diverse food forest with native fruit trees, bushes, plants, herbs.
They have divided the land into 13 lots and invite nature lovers to join them in building a community with homes made of local materials, respecting the environment and the panoramic views. Half of the lots have been sold already.
Overseas buyers plan to make this paradise their retirement project. The site hosts now over 7,000 trees and a beautiful water reservoir next to a fantastic dome made of clay during a workshop by renowned German architect Gernot Minke.
“Everybody should be part of a project to restore nature,” says Gomez. Her children, now in their early twenties, are Colombians who believe in their country. Her son Gabriel plans to start “Su Merce,” a sustainable tourism business.
San Pedro Reserve is one of the many beautiful projects now devoted to agro-tourism and opportunity to reconnect with nature and the cheerful people of Colombia. The country is ready for a confident and sustainable change. As the slogan of a successful campaign launched by the government says, “the only risk is wanting to stay.”