Miller Walles wasn’t a coffee farmer until he came to Paicol, a municipality in Huila. The area had been beaten by decades of armed conflict that made moving any kind of products a life risking activity. He had worked in the sugar industry for as long as he could remember, but his family was in need of a bigger income and he knew it was not with the cane that he was going to get it.
Determined, he went out in search of luck and a better income. He decided that there, in Paicol, a land where nothing seemed to grow because of apparently high aluminum levels, he was going to begin a new journey. He would learn to work with whatever he had, he thought, and he knew there was something special about the place. After all, there must have been a reason its indigenous habitants knew the place as “door of the wind” (in Quechua) and why the Spanish made it the most important town of the department during colonial times. It’s a place that has one of the most stunning churches in the country, cherished by Colombians for its architectural design and its setting between the Paez river and the vast flow of the Magdalena. It had to be a good spot to begin over.
And so it happened. Above all, Miller’s willingness to succeed together with the support of his family pushed him to look for the knowledge he lacked wherever he could find it. The advice he got from an agronomist in the region, plus courses in coffee production and management given by SENA, along with other programs organized by Paicol’s coffee farmer’s association all gave him the technical training he needed to begin a new artisanal coffee production.
Today, nearly twenty years later, Miller works a piece of land transformed by his labor since the day he bought it in 1999. A wild forest protects the biodiversity of Finca La Morelia, and a wide variety of birds and other animals have now made a home at the farm, sharing the space with a coffee as special as its surroundings.