Feliz Año Nuevo from ViVerde

By Amelie Rousseau

I am amazed by how much Diane, Gerard, and Brett have accomplished in only one year (not alone, of course). This place is beautiful, way better than I expected. Because I was there during rainy season, everything was green and lush. Since my arrival mid-September I met the wonderful farm staff, made fast friends with the dogs, and renewed friendships with my old friends, that is, the papayas and coconuts and tamarinds and mango trees that I had missed so much since leaving India.

I spent the first few weeks listening to Spanish podcasts and doing much-needed painting in the Centro building. The front porch is now a comfy hangout space in the evening where Brett and I play guitar and ukulele. Inside is now a tranquil turquoise. The second floor’s beautiful railings were installed so we no longer risk our necks every time we go up and down the stairs at night.

Back of centro

Back of Centro, painted with railings

Our locally handcrafted cement tiles are installed and polished. We had a special mold made for us. This is an ancient craft; you see tiles in Granada that are hundreds of years old.  If you like seeing how things are done differently, watch these short videos:  our tiles being made and tiles installed, the local way.


We painted Grandma’s casita; now with its iron grillwork windows, it is quite a charming cottage.

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Casita before


Casita now, feeling better about itself

My lovely Americorps friends, Isabel and Ari, came to visit in September. Both farmers and women of the woods like me, we got muddy building a giant cob bench. All day we would dance around and around in circles, mixing wet clay and sand with handfuls of straw for tensile strength. After the cob was thoroughly mixed, we formed balls and carted them up the hill to our building site. Then, and this is the best part, we would pick each mud ball up and SMACK! it onto the bench for maximum adherence. After the bench is thoroughly dry, we will seal it with an earthen plaster and decorate it tastefully. Thanks Isabel and Ari for all your help!

Cob bench roof.jpg

Gerard working with the Juans on the bench roof

Diane doing brickwork.jpg

Diane building brick foundation wall

Making cob

Ari and Isabelle mixing cob with us

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Amelie and Ari, covered in mud,making cob balls

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Amelie & Brett building and shaping the back wall

Cob bench with roof.jpg

Finished bench, drying and awaiting final cob plaster

One of my favorite projects was transforming the bathroom and showers into a lush junglescape with my sister Brett. We now brush our teeth surrounded by birds of paradise, toucans, a jaguar and a waterlily lake filled with moonlight. Brett and I worked long days painting layer upon layer of massive arums, graceful palm fronds and vibrant snake grasses.

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Toilets and showers before…

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Largest mural by Rousseau sisters to date

mural lake

Look closely for the jaguar in the tree

I also had fun painting the kitchen backsplash below.

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Thieving monkey in the kitchen– watch out!

I am so thankful for this quality time with my family. These three months also gave me the mental space to reflect on my life goals, and I am happy to report I will be returning to Portland and intend to pursue a master’s degree in nutrition at the National College of Natural Medicine. America’s system of feeding and healing our communities is far past broken, and I can’t wait to dive deeper into the world of whole foods and holistic healing. In a year and a half I hope to organize cooking classes and wellness programs at ViVerde. Our farm will be, among other things, a restive place to inspire folks to treat themselves and the earth with kindness and patience.

Check out our Christmas Duck adventure! This was my first time ever butchering and roasting a duck. Delicious!

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Dulci with the duck

Version 2

Amelie with duck a l’orange

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The Finca ViVerde team wishes you Happy New Year!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kathryn Moseler
    Dec 28, 2015 @ 18:42:58

    Thank you Amelie! What a great look into the ongoing work there; you all are bring such life there w/ beautiful handcrafted furniture, restoring older buildings w/paint and pictures! Ah-Mazing. We r missing your vibrant presence here but glad, so glad you’ve found a purpose that wil minister to so many and help them discover revitalization for their lives! Fondly, Kathryn


  2. elaine ledbetter
    Dec 29, 2015 @ 00:38:47

    Happy New Year! You all worked so very hard, and it shows. The design and artwork are beautiful. I know 2016 will be even more fruitful. Thanks for keeping in touch. With my love, Elaine

    Sent from my iPad



  3. Olivier Rémondière
    Jan 02, 2016 @ 05:34:37

    Jana se joint à moi pour vous souhaiter une excellente année 2016 !
    Ce que vous réalisez est magnifique. Cet endroit respire l’harmonie et la sérénité. Bravo !
    à bientôt.


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