My name is Alicia Rugama Romero. I grow coffee in Las Conchitas, a family farm that I inherited from my mother.
My father passed away when I was only seven years old. Since then, I became very attached to my mother. I remember always wanting to stay near her; never wanting to leave her side. I became so attached, that I refused to go to school just so I could stay with my mom.
Even though I was very young, I loved taking care of farm chores with my mother. And since I chose not to go to school, we spent our days working the fields together. I loved almost every second of it.
I say almost because there was one task that I didn’t love: picking coffee. As a child, I was terrified of worms. When I think of that fear now, I laugh. But at the time, they were the only thing that could take me away from my mother’s side.
That’s how I became so fond of household chores. During picking season, I chose to stay home. I became more and more involved with responsibilities in the kitchen. I learned to cook, and dedicated myself to learning how to make the most delicious coffee.
Not a day goes by without coffee at Alicia’s home. Her family enjoys it black, with sugar.
When people would ask me if I planned to go to school, I would say no. That I would eventually inherit the farm from my mom, and that I did not need to get an education.
Sure enough, eventually I inherited the farm. And I realized how much responsibility my mom had over her shoulders when she was still in charge of everything. Working on our family farm has been an incredible experience for me. I have learned so much along the way, and have discovered what it means to have a rewarding career.
“I hope that every sip of our coffee brings people happiness and shares the beauty of ethical, organic farming. And that it connects them to our family and land here in Nicaragua.”
At the same time, now that I run my family business, I wish I had stayed in school. That’s why as a mother, I am so supportive of my children’s education. I have three daughters and one son. All of them—along with my husband—contribute to the family farm. They love working with the land and the kids talk about getting careers in agriculture.
This is Alicia’s family. She and her husband have four children.
While we work, we talk about how much we have grown as a family and as a business. We make plans for the future. We envision what our farm will look like when those plans become a reality.
Nowadays, my favorite time of year is picking season. To see the ripe coffee beans. To walk among the fields filled with joy. To be able to see and touch the fruits of our labor. It’s what we work for and what we dream of.
This year, Alicia has focused on learning how to grow crops despite climate change. This has helped her keep the coffee plants healthy, even during the dry season.
“Our coffee is special because of our sustainable processes. We implement everything that we learn at the field schools, to give our land the best possible maintenance and practice responsible farming methods.”
Growing organic coffee takes a lot of effort and knowledge. I don’t know what I would do without the cooperative’s field school. Our women’s group really is proof that when you organize as a group, you can accomplish much more than when you work alone.
These field schools are an opportunity for me to gain the education that I did not receive as a child. Thanks to these courses, I have learned how to nourish the land with my own fertilizers. I’ve also learned how to avoid pests with naturally derived lime sulfur. I even know how to deal with climate change, to keep it from drying our crops.
I love being part of a group of women that are always learning because it is my way of honoring my mother’s inheritance. By nurturing our lands and growing coffee that people all over the world get to enjoy, I keep her memory alive.
“I’d like Vega Coffee clients to know that we put a lot of effort into producing an organic coffee that’s healthy and of the highest quality. It’s the product—and pride—of our family’s hard work.”