Trust us. You don’t want to miss the blog posts, photos and videos on EEBlog by Global Michigan’s Bill Foreman and Mike Wood. Reading the posts and viewing the photos is almost as good as being right there on the spot with Professors John Vandermeer and Ivette Perfecto and their crew of six graduate students from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the School of Natural Resources and Environment.
Foreman and Wood embarked on a five-day journey to southern Chiapas state, near the Guatemalan border. They immersed themselves with the researchers who “have been studying the complex universe of insects and other organisms that coexist among the lush green plants covered in bright red berries that eventually become steaming black coffee,” describes the first post.
There are 18 posts in all, taking the reader through Mexico City immigration to the head-thumping drive up the narrow rutted mountain road in a 4x4 pickup to their destination, “a strip of land between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Sierra Madre de Chiapas mountains to the east.”
You’ll read about sun versus shade coffee, meet the plantation owner and some of the locals who work with the U-M researchers, find out how a farmhouse became a successful tropical field station, why socks are worn with sandals, learn about the threat called coffee rust, what Vandermeer yells when meals are ready, and what happens if you’re bitten by a coral snake.
Finca Irlanda, the coffee plantation where ecologists Vandermeer and Perfecto have been working for 17 years is believed to be the world’s first certified organic coffee farm.
Watch the U-M Gateway next week for the feature story and video from the trip.