Eladio boasts an exemplary family, household and farm. Eladio and his wife Virginia have brought up 15 children, of which the youngest Jahir will turn 5 in January and oldest, Adalia, is 34. Add to that some 13 grandchildren and spouses of the 10 live-in kids and you can picture this famous family from San Pedro Columbia.
Most westerners have a hard time even imagining anything past a couple of children, but Eladio and Virginia have embraced each without fail and have worked out parenting to an art. Visitors from around the world have been visiting this beautiful family and their farm since they started a sustainable tourism enterprise. “It’s lucky to meet my brothers and sisters around the world just through a little garden,” Eladio says enthusiastically. Most of the family is trilingual, as Eladio comes from a Mopan Maya speaking environment and Virginia's background is Q'eqchi', and everybody also speaks English on top of the two Maya tongues.
Beside cacao, they grow more exotic crops like mango, coconut, ginger, lemongrass and Jamaican lime. “I grow whatever the birds or the agouti [type of rodent]bring. That’s how an agouti works. I keep stashing the seeds also,” Eladio assures us with a huge smile. The 31-acre farm has been key in sustaining the numerous family and also served as a source of learning for the family and now visitors from abroad. Eladio and Virginia’s farm is a prime example of integrated farming, where timber and fruit trees abound in harmony and soil is enriched by composting underbrush cleared for pathways to access the crop. Integrated farming brings opportunities for soil enrichment, but also means more work cleaning, pruning and raking the underbrush to transform it to compost. Regular cleaning is indispensable for cacao farms on tropical lowlands as good soil, rain and shade make for prime conditions for growth. “Everybody wants to be a student these days. I want my kids to be farmers,” says Eladio.
About Maya Mountain Cacao
Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) is a for-profit social enterprise that sources premium cacao beans from smallholder farmers in Belize. Founded in 2010, it generates income for marginalized farmers while promoting sustainable agricultural practices in the southern part of the country.
These cacao farmers use Kiva credit to invest in farm maintenance, improvement and expansion. For example, they might hire workers to help with the harvest or buy inputs such as better tools and seedlings.