Were I to be handed a five hundred dollar disability pension check from my job as a paramedic, I might not immediately think to move to Guatemala and start planting macadamia trees. This is why I wasn’t the founder of the Valhalla Farm.
The farm, tucked behind a small bridge and a jumble of vegetation, lies on one of the main roads out of Ciudad Vieja. Only steps beyond the bridge, I found myself in a place of utter beauty. The massive macadamia trees create a picturesque deep green landscape, made even more majestic by the clearly laid footpath that could have easily fallen straight off the pages of a JRR Tolkien novel.
Before receiving a formal tour of the property, we sat around a simple wooden table, carefully placed to fit in perfect harmony with its surroundings. Before long, we all had breakfast on a plate in front of us — three perfectly cooked pancakes served with rich homemade macadamia nut butter, blueberry jam, honey, and fresh pineapple and melon. Simply stated: the best breakfast of my life — every flavor impeccably intense, every color vivid, and every texture smooth. A meal for the gods.
Still immersed in a state of food-imparted ecstasy, I pulled myself away from the table to observe the small pond with fish. Come to find out, this pond exists for the purpose of creating natural fertilizer, dually using fish excrement and the roots of two breeds of quick growing plants. In fact, nature was a pretty important concept at the Farm. The six-acre campus has no electricity and prides itself on not using clones of trees, rather encouraging biodiversity “as God intended” to ensure that the macadamias can survive changes in the environment. I can’t help but feel that these kind of projects are the most promising ways that humanity can combat our environmental problems.
Perhaps even more interesting, though, than the environmental goals of Valhalla is the farm’s social mission. Each year, the farm sends volunteers to poor indigenous communities to seek out people interested in starting their own miniature macadamia farm. Valhalla then donates trees to these poor families with the hope that the macadamias can, one day, provide a significant source of nutrients and income where both are much needed.
Did I mention free samples galore? Chocolate covered macadamia nuts, macadamia oil skin products, massages, facials. All free. Unreal!