History of the Farm
The story goes back to 1937 when my grandfather, Primo Coghi Ferrari, began an intense struggle.
He initially rented a part of the estate, and the following year managed to buy it and was able to take on a lease for the neighbouring property.
However, afterwards, there were a series of problems including the presence of malaria and problems with the land. Only a small proportion of the land could be cultivated at first because it was full of marshes, Zampopo (leaf cutter ant) nests and taltuzas (gophers). In order to cultivate the rest, my grandfather had to drain the land, making canals and ditches from the volcanic rock he found in the region. The nests had to be eliminated by digging them all out, sometimes up to 2 metres in depth (since there was no machinery at this time, this was done by hand). To control the taltuzas, they had to use traps to prevent them from eating the roots of crops.
Then came the beginning of the Second World War which was a difficult time especially for immigrants. At that time the farm produced cassava, which my grandfather took to the market using about 30 mules. Every afternoon, they would leave with the goods to walk to the town of Paraíso, some 7 kilometres from the farm. There, my grandfather had some grocery stores that would hold the goods before later continuing their journey by truck to Cartago and San Jose.
My grandfather, being the son of immigrants, was presented with a number of difficulties when trying to run a business. One of these problems was that people did not want to sell him fuel for his truck and he therefore had to sell what was cultivated to a merchant. As that was not profitable for the conditions at the time, he cultivated beans instead. Unfortunately, when there were periods of heavy rain, the crop would be ruined. After that, he tried to grow tobacco, however, the crop was ruined by a plague of worms. Once again, my grandfather had to think of another crop that could be grown and was forced to keep going and cope with problems for the sake of the family.
The farm that my grandfather was leasing contained an abandoned mill. He repaired it and started to grind his own sugar cane, which he would convert into dulce or brown sugar. In order to transport the product to Cartago they bought wagons and oxen with the small amount of money they had. However, once at market the merchants were only willing to pay a very low price such that the agreement was hardly worth it. In the end, my grandfather bought a small business in the middle of the market so that he could sell directly to the public. From this moment, the story changed.
The business started to grow and he was able to buy a tractor, the first in the province and one of the first in Costa Rica. With the tractor, they were able to transport the goods to market, however, in the winter the roads were bad from the rain and the vehicle could not go. My grandfather and his workers therefore had to carry all the materials by carts pulled by oxen and mules some 2 kilometres to the foot of the Hill of Madriz, from which they had to carry all the materials themselves.
Despite all the difficulties, in the Fifties, my grandfather was finally able to consolidate a farm of 150 hectares called Agraria Cañera Ajenjal S.A, which, along with other farms he had bought in other areas, produced sugar cane.
During the processing of the sugarcane, a by-product called cachaza was produced which they used to fertilize the sugar cane. They did this until one of my father´s brothers started rearing pigs on a diet of cachaza. Later my father decided to buy the pig farm of about 50 pigs, and fed them on a diet of concentrate, supplemented by the cachaza. This is how the farm continued to work until the death of my grandfather. When my parents inherited the farm, they decided to close the mill and divide up the land.
Given the circumstances, and with a farm of roughly 1700 pigs and 20 hectares of land, we decided to continue farming.
Today, in honour of where our family comes from, the Mantova Province of Italy, we have called our land Sermide Farm, and with passion and inspiration we continue to rear pigs, grow sugar cane, plant forest and grow a small agro-tourism project.