Guatemala is mainly known for its coffee farms, but I had heard of many macadamia farms around Antigua and decided to do more research.
Apparently, the people who founded the Valhalla Macadamia farm, (close to the Panajachel outside of Antigua) have a wider vision for the macadamia than just exportation. Here is a quote that states their vision better than I could ever paraphrase:
"The potential of the Macadamia tree as an environmentally friendly alternative to slash and burn agriculture is incredible. For example, if you compare the Macadamia tree with a pine tree, the tree most often used in reforestation projects in Guatemala, you will see that the Macadamia tree, thanks to its broad leaves, has the capacity to convert more carbon dioxide to oxygen than the pine needles can. For every pound of nut meats we take one pound of carbon out of the air. The Macadamia tree converts sixty three cubic feet of carbon dioxide and releases 55 gallons of water vapor into the atmosphere every day. Most importantly, the Macadamia tree is an economically favorable tree, a food source, and firewood for cooking. It is environmentally friendly, but it can also provide the indigenous communities an income."
Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Mask, 8.5 ounces Jar
This farm mainly uses macadamia nuts for the oils to create cosmetics: lotions, soaps, oils, and some edible products as well. I found macadamia nut butter for sale from this farm. Many people who have visited have commented on their sustainable and non-toxic farming methods. Erica from Travelpod says: "The farm grows completely organic macadamia nuts. We saw the plants they grow to make natural pesticides, boil in water, which is then used to spray the trees and keeps insects from feeding on."
And others comment on their commitment to use the macadamia trees to improve the lives of people in Guatemala. According to one of the farm's tourists at virtualtourist.com:
"Valhalla gives baby trees away to indigenous farmers, 100 trees per family because that is how many one family can care for A tree matures in 8 years, but it will produce some nuts before that. One tree produces 150 lb. of nuts per year, but ¾ of the weight is shells. They could eventually get $1000 per year in income from them."
Next up: I want to take a tour of this farm! I would love to eventually have the land to plant some macadamia trees, though maybe not 100. Also, I want to try macadamia butter.
I appreciate the way these people have found a solution to several problems at once; slash-and-burn farming, income for Guatemalan families, non-toxic pest solutions and of course, the delicious and useful products from the nuts themselves.