The Hacienda Buena Vista Natural Protected Area opened its doors on Saturday, October 27th to celebrate Memorias del Bosque (Memories of the Forest) with its neighboring communities of Corral Viejo, Marrueño, and Vallas Torres.
During this event, which was free and open to the public, visitors enjoyed several educational and interactive activity modules, and they were able to visit the coffee mill, the corn mill, the historic structures, and the nursery of native trees, cocoa, and coffee.
About 300 native trees were donated to visitors who made a commitment to plant and foster them adequately. Participants learned about the ecological restoration program called Hábitat, which provides guidance about the services and adequate planting processes for native trees, as well as humanity’s commitment and responsibility towards nature. The activity also featured a small organic farmers market, as well as a sale of fruit trees from the orchard of the Armstrong Poventud School in Ponce.
At the main house, participants were able to tour the property and see how the Vives family went about their daily lives when they were at the hacienda. Guests were able to see some of the furniture and family belongings dating to the former proprietors’ era.
On the main house terrace, the Para la Naturaleza staff made artisanal chocolate bars and roasted shade-grown coffee. Both the cocoa and the coffee were cultivated at Hacienda Buena Vista. Meanwhile, in the coffee mill area, visitors learned about the workings of the old hydraulic mill, which is perfectly preserved and functional.
Near the corn mill, both children and adults had the opportunity of creating works of art on small pieces of bark from native trees that were rescued after Hurricane Maria.
In the tree nursery area, just by the Canas river, there were lectures about planting and identifying adequate species according to the soil where the visitors would plant their adopted trees. There was also a registry of the adopted trees and the corresponding commitments from planting citizens to adequately foster and care for these trees.
Some visitors decided to walk around and enjoy the fresh air on the tree-covered path that leads to the impressive view of the Vives waterfall.
“We have been working alongside the Corral Viejo community for more than 30 years. We helped the community of Marrueño to establish a community garden that supplies produce to the community and cocoa to the Hacienda. We are currently transforming their community centers into resilient centers. The community of Vallas Torres also has a garden near one of our protected areas, and they have all of our support to develop it,” remarked Fernando Lloveras San Miguel, President of Para la Naturaleza.
Meanwhile, Zuleika Rodríguez, one of the activity participants, said that, “Being here is a beautiful experience. We learned very much about native trees and about how coffee is processed.” Her son, José Javier Pérez, added that, “I loved to plant and work with the plants. I learned a lot and it was super fun.”
This is the first open house organized by Para la Naturaleza after Hurricane Maria. Hacienda Buena Vista is open all year long, and they offer guided tours on various schedules. It is also a meeting point for volunteer and citizen scientist activities in the southwestern side of Puerto Rico. For more information or to make a reservation, you may contact Para la Naturaleza at 787.722.5882 or visit their website www.paralanaturaleza.org.