Our First Farm: San Fernando

San Fernando farm of chia seeds in Bolivia

Beyond the Equator started in 2015, but our story begins back in 2003 when one of our founding partners purchased a 5,000 acre piece of land outside of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.  Looking to expand his farming operations outside of the United States, Carl began scouring the Western Hemisphere to find the finest farming opportunities Latin and South America had to offer.  Traveling from Mexico to Argentina, Carl searched for the perfect soils and climates to grow nutrient rich grains, beans, and seeds.  His travels led him to Bolivia and Peru, home of the lush Sacred Valley.  There Carl met local farmers and learned the tools of their trade.  The region surrounding the Andes Mountains is flush with ripe farmland and an incredible variety of agricultural products -- including some of the most nutrient-rich superfoods on the plant, like Chia.

After visiting San Fernando, Carl knew this would be the farm to start it all.  Underdeveloped and overridden with weeds, it took years of crop rotation and land improvements to bring San Fernando up to the farm standards we expect today.   

San Fernando began production in 2004 with the help of labor from the small village on its western border – Veintecinco De Mayo.   Workers would walk 3km from the village to the farm headquarters every day to work and help grow the operation.  As San Fernando grew, Veintecinco De Mayo grew with it.  A year later the workers were riding in on bicycles, and eventually gas powered motorcycles. 
 
Shifting to Superfoods
 
By 2011 Carl and his team noticed a shifting trend in the region and decided to pursue high quality superfoods as their next focus, namely chia seeds.  Chia seeds have been grown in Bolivia for centuries and the expertise of the local village combined with Carl’s decades of farming experience created a unique infrastructure for producing a sustainable, quality product. 
 
Today San Fernando has branched out from growing only chia seeds to include other superfoods like quinoa and amaranth.  Veintecinco De Mayo still plays a key role it San Fernando’s success and the village is thriving.  Since buying San Fernando in 2002 Carl has seen the village develop a new school, a health clinic, and even a taxi system. 

 

Region and Climate


Chia farm location in Bolivia

San Fernando (inside the red circle) is located 35km southeast of Santa Cruz, one of the largest cities in Bolivia.  Located in a semi-arid tropical forest, San Fernando receives approximately 900mm of rain each year.  Instead of a typical calendar of seasons, San Fernando experiences a rainy season (summer) and a dry season (winter).   During the dry season, the farm can go months without a single rain.  The weather phenomena El Nino and La Nina can have a severe effect on our farm causing drastic changes in temperature and precipitation.  To compensate for these varying weather conditions, we have state of the art irrigation on San Fernando and can grow the finest quality crops year round.