On June 5, EARTH University held its 22nd anniversary, and I celebrated 20 years of working here. I spent it planting trees along with the rest of the “EARTHling” community as part of the Institutional Tree Planting Day.
I was excited because my colleagues and I planted cacao to help with a student group’s entrepreneurial project. The project aims to reforest several acres of the campus with cacao trees, primarily for research purposes.
I am happy to know that within a few years, these lands will have cacao again. When I was little girl my grandparents worked here; back then it was a banana plantation but with many cacao plantations within it. I remember how in Las Mercedes, my hometown, farmworkers used to dry the cacao beans. While laid out under the sun, the beans released a very pleasant smell that I can still remember. Unfortunately, in the ‘70s, a disease called Monilia destroyed nearly all cacao plantations.
We spent the day at the Integrated Organic Farm (known as the FIO, in Spanish). The community was organized into groups, and each group was assigned an activity (on- or off-campus) and a corresponding Institutional value. Our group was assigned to the cacao tree planting, with the value of “academic excellence.” Upon reaching the FIO, we all discussed the meaning of this value and got down to work in the soil afterward.
While in the fields, I looked around; I saw how professors of all ages dug holes, my co-workers topped compost pits for each tree to grow tall and big, some administrative assistants and janitors planted trees, students made sure the small plants remained at ground level to ensure proper growth, the academic dean collected plastic bags and stakes near the plants. It was a true teamwork.
When contemplating this scene, I started to relive when I first entered EARTH. I was 19 years old; I had been hired as a telephone receptionist. Now I work in the treasury office. I have seen many changes in these lands where the EARTH campus now stands. I saw my family members working here even before the University was built, and today I received an award for having worked 20 years with the University. I did so with the great pride and satisfaction of having witnessed the transformation of EARTH’s founders’ dream into a reality.
—Kattia Calvo Angulo—