Ometepe event set for Sunday

El Loco Taco the spot for Nicaraguan celebration

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A co-founder of the Ometepe Gulf Islands Friendship Association is hosting a celebration of all things Ometepe at El Loco Taco this Sunday, Feb. 23. 

Set for 3 to 7 p.m., the event will feature a honey-tasting bar, coffee cupping, art, displays, music, poetry and door prizes, as well as Nicaraguan-themed dishes. 

Ron Pither, a well-known Gulf Islands farmer, was recently on Ometepe Island in Nicaragua, where he was brought up to date on the challenges faced by farmers there: primarily the advent of the coffee rust disease, which has devastated the crops in some parts of the island, but also the loss of lucrative plantain crops due to Hurricane Nate in 2017 and the impacts of political unrest, including a drop in income from tourism.

Pither returned from his trip with several samples of honey from Nicaraguan beehives and other sharable goods. 

Nedjo Rogers is the current OGIFA president. OGIFA is not organizing Sunday’s event, but is supportive of Pither’s contribution to increasing the profile of OGIFA, Ometepe Coffee and the sister island relationship between Salt Spring and Ometepe. 

Both Pither and Rogers would like to see the next generation of islanders, and especially local farmers, connect with the farmers in Ometepe. 

“The current interest is to do some outreach in the farming community here,” explained Rogers. 

Ideally that would see exchanges between Salt Spring and Ometepe farmers for the purposes of sharing knowledge and experiences. 

“That’s what farmers do,” said Pither. “We share over the fence and are collegial, as much as possible.”

OGIFA has also contributed to the hiring of an agronomist to provide advice to the farmers’ co-ops there, with diversification of crops being one of the prime recommendations.  

OGIFA always welcomes more volunteers to do from one to four shifts per summer brewing and selling coffee at the Saturday market and at community events like the fall fair and the Salt Spring Film Festival. Other volunteer opportunities include grinding and bagging coffee at “the can,” the converted shipping container in Ganges where OGIFA processes its coffee.

Anyone interested in finding out how to get involved can contact Marlene Rice, OGIFA membership coordinator, at mricessi@icloud.com.

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