The other day, a few friends of mine invited me to the Valhalla Experimental Station, a macadamia ecofarm just outside of Antigua, Guatemala. It is well known for its beautiful location, sustainability efforts and its macadamia nut pancakes. I was super excited to go.
Getting there was easy. The farm is about 20 minutes outside of Antigua, on the road between Ciudad Vieja and San Miguel Dueñas. I recommend taking a taxi, although you could also take a chicken bus.
We all made sure to have healthy appetites before arriving. So the first thing we wanted to do was eat. We chose a table surrounded by beautiful flowers and, of course, macadamia trees. It was the perfect setting to eat food that is both healthy and delicious.
You should know that the menu is everything macadamia nut. I decided to go for the famous blueberry macadamia pancakes. Its ingredients include macadamia flour, macadamia sauce and crushed macadamia nuts sprinkled on top. Another friend got the pesto pizza, which had crushed macadamia nut within the pesto. My other friend got a veggie burger which was made with macadamia nut encrusted eggplant. We each got fresh fruit smoothies as well. It was all so yummy!
After we finished our meal, we went on a 15 minute tour of the property. The macadamia tree first produces a pretty white flower before it before it eventually turns into a dark green shell. The fruit can be harvest after 7-9 months.
Once the fruit has been harvested, it needs to be sorted before it can be cracked. At Valhalla, the owner invented a machine that can easily sort the nuts into 6 different sizes. The cracker machines needs to be set at precisely the right size or it will also crack the nutmeat. Then, the nuts are washed and dried at a very low temperature for several days.
The tour ends with free samples of nuts and chocolates, plus a free 5 minute facial. Because Valhalla’s macadamia trees are so genetically pure, its oil makes for a wonderful skincare product. The oil has a number of benefits, including reducing existing scar tissue, preventing stretch marks during pregnancy, and healing skin if it has been bruised, cut or burned.
Valhalla’s efforts towards improving the environment and lives of the local peoples is very inspiring. The owners only use organic materials to grow their macadamia trees, which have a lifespan of 150 years. Therefore, there is no need for slash and burn farming techniques! In addition, macadamia trees can counteract greenhouse gas effect and fix 30 pounds of carbon per year.
The owners have also planted over 350,000 trees throughout Guatemala. They donated many of these trees, which provide both economic and health benefits. Macadamia nuts command a higher price on the world market than other popular agricultural products in Guatemala, such as coffee or corn, which provides the local communities with a higher source of income. Moreover, macadamia nuts are highly nutritious with omega 3, proteins, and minerals. They are also gluten free and have little or no cholesterol. These nuts have become very important to the diet of the local communities.
All of the owners’ sustainability efforts have led them to receive the International Human Rights Consortium medal in the category of environment in 2004. Valhalla, the old Germanic word for heaven, is the perfect name for this great ecofarm!
Know Before You Go
- They are open everyday from 8 to 4
- Taxis there are Q50
- The owner likes to chat with all his guests, but has a crude sense of humor that some might find offensive. I advise you to go with someone who can handle colorful language.
- Their bathroom is famous for being the most photographed bathroom in Guatemala. Make sure to use it while you’re there!