Culture Recommendations

Mario Fernandez #IAmMexican

Writer, humanist and coffee grower

Por Todito Centro

Mario Fernández Sánchez, was born in Coatepec, Veracruz 72 years ago. He has been a coffee grower since always, he represents the seventh generation of farmers in his family. He defines himself as foolish or stubborn –his wife says with a vision of the future– because he has failed many times in the coffee business and, nevertheless, he begins again; It has no nickname and goes through life, simply, like Mario Fernández. In the mornings he works in the fields and in the afternoons he writes, his love of life.
The coffee marked his life, he tells us “that since childhood coffee was part of life, we lived in Mexico City, but all the vacations –which were then from December to January– we were going to go to the ranch, and they coincided with the coffee harvest and we had fun helping, but we did not know it; I can say that I have swum in coffee, because my grandfather had a cellar where they kept the coffee in bulk and we as children would dive in, we would make towers like sand, and in the night when the grandmother would put on our pajamas, she would take coffee from ears, pants bags, everywhere and never said anything, as it was normal. For me that was normal, but, one day I discovered that this was not normal for most people who lived in the city; They did not know the history or the process of the coffee, that marked me with a love for coffee, for life, so much that when I bought the ranch in Coatepec, I built the house and we went to live there.”
The event that marked him as a writer happened with a literature teacher, when he was in high school, Mario remembers him this way: “an old Spaniard who always had the cigar stuck in his mouth to which I said: Don Isidoro, I want to write, since I was a kid I liked to read and I want to write, how do I do it ?, and he answered me: write Fernandez, write, write, write all the days of his life. That marked my love for writing “also remember that” in college We founded the newspaper “Papalote” and there I started to publish my stories, one of the first ones was called “Porque sí” because anything they asked me answered, because yes “For him” ink is like a source of life “; his novel “A long flight forward” won a university award. They all take place in rural and indigenous areas and there is always the issue of agriculture and coffee, in disguise, but they are always “one’s experience always appears behind”, he says.
To be a good coffee grower, Mario Fernández says that you have to have a vocation and you have to study “if you do not like what you do, it is difficult to learn and do it well; For me, being a coffee grower is a pleasure and I try to do the best I can. But I also learned at school: organic horticulture or organic fertilizers, but the rest is observation, experience and knowing the terrain.”
Your success as a coffee grower is in the diversification of crops. “My farm is very small, only 4.5 hectares but it is a garden, I enjoy it a lot, it is also productive because we live from it. My purpose was always to make it profitable through the production of coffee, but also diversifying production “tells us. “Like the cornfield, coffee must be maintained with other products, apart from coffee, we produce macadamia nuts in the same area, fruits such as blackberries and flowers. At the same time, macadamia, coffee, cinnamon are planted and each one fulfills its function; one gives shade to the other and another separates the plants to avoid pests, everything we do a natural process and this I learned with practice. We worked with the Totonacos, from the upper area of ​​Papantla, they did not speak Spanish but they had diversified management of their forest; because they knew their land they managed the diversification of the crops, I learned a lot from them, although we were going to help, I learned more from them than they from me.”
The advice of Mario Fernandez for those who want to dedicate themselves to the world of coffee “consists of working double: with quality and diversification, having other supports because there may be a crisis or any eventuality and as they say in the town, ‘you should never have eggs in the same basket because if it breaks, they all break “I would recommend, if someone wants to dedicate themselves to the production of coffee; Do not grow coffee alone.
In the current times, coffee is only for specialty coffee shops and it is important to find niches where it is paid at a good price, which will allow the coffee grower to continue producing. For Mario Fernandez, the hope for the coffee to stay alive is the consumption of young people, who consume it more because they know it more and the specialty coffee shops that make it known are a hope.
This is Mario Fernandez, a writer, humanist and successful coffee grower, who has written every day of his life, as one of his professors advised him, and who, as few people have done, his farm in such a small area, has productive fact and of her lives. Modestly says that at his age is only dedicated to what he likes most: develop coffee as a source 
of life, work for and for coffee.

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