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-OUR HISTORY (by Jefferson)
My paternal grandfather named Nenê, with Italian heritage from the region of Genoa, had the famous scout Antonio Dias Adorno as one of his an ancestors.  My grandmother Lia was a native Brazilian, born in the state of Bahia. They had 8 children, with my father Aldo being the youngest, and they were all raised at ou ranch known as “Sítio Pau-Brasil”, in the Pompéia county of the state of São Paulo, which was purchased by my grandfather in 1929 when it initially had 89.6 acres.

Grandpa Nenê and Grandma Lia at center with their 8 sons and the priest of the town of Quintana. Mr. Aldo is the small one sitting in front with the white suit.
On the maternal side, my mother Marlene was the oldest daughter, and like my father, she had 7 siblings. My maternal grandfather José Rissato also had Italian roots, while my grandmother Almerinda had native indian ancestry. They were farmers as well and lived in a small ranch near the city of Pompéia, São Paulo, where my mother was able to study up to the 8th grade. In 1965, my parents started dating, and in 1966 my mother and all her family moved to the city of Campinas, in the state of São Paulo.

A visitor in the farm beside a coffee tree.
Going back to my father’s side, the “Sitio Pau-Brasil” ranch, where my father was born, was so diverse that it was almost self-sufficient. There they cultivated 10,000 coffee trees, rice, beans, potatoes, cotton, etc. In addition to breeding and raising a variety of livestock. Living a very humble life and with such a large family, they all had to do their part. The girls cared for their younger siblings and did household chores, while the boys helped with the farming.

Grandpa Nenê with some of his sons in the cotton crop.
In 1944, using his carpentry skills, my grandfather Nenê built a school made out of wood (it was a common construction method at the time) with his bare hands while also providing the teachers with food, accomodation, and laundry service. The children would study there until the third school year. My father, Aldo, studied at that school for three years and later completed his studies in the city, graduating on accounting.

The school on grandpa Nenê's farm, built with his own hands in partnership with the city of Pompéia, provided education for children in the region until the 3rd grade.
My father helped my grandfather in his farm until he was 18 years old, when he began working as an office boy in Bradesco bank in Pompéia city. There he worked for 43 years and during this period he was transferred to several cities, among them Curitiba, in the state of Paraná, where I (Jefferson) was born in 1971. He retired as Director in São Paulo, the capital city, and Bradesco was his first and last job.

Grandpa Nenê in the vegetable-garden.

From left to right: Grandpa Nenê, Grandmother Lia, Aunt Edith and Uncle Alcides, in the coffee drying patio.
With the death of grandpa Nenê in 1972, my uncles tried to survive by living off the ranch, but they faced many difficulties and were forced to sell it. At that point the ranch already had 894 acres. After their retirement, my parents dreamed of returning to their origins, and if possible, start producing coffee again. After searching for nearly 2 years, in 1994 my parents found “Retiro Santo Antônio Farm”, a property that had long been abandoned, and had coffee plantations that were “burned” by the extremely heavy frost that hit the region that year. From then on, they began the arduous task of rebuilding the entire farm since none of it was in good condition, including the crops, the pastures, the fences, the irrigation system, the farmhouse and the employee living quarters.

Mr. Aldo in 1997, proud of the recovery of coffee trees that had been hit by the very strong frost of 1994.
At that time, my two brothers and I lived in São Paulo. I was already 23 years old, newly married and had an one year old child. I was also graduating as an Electronic Engineer. I worked in that area while wearing a suit and a tie, and spent 2 to 4 “pleasant” hours everyday stuck in traffic, which was far better than today (!).

Santo Antônio Festival in 1997, with the participation of all Farm´s residents and massive presence of neighbors.

First Mass celebrated by Father Durval here on the Farm, in front of the Chapel built in 1950.
Then in 1999, the best thing in my life happened: I was kidnapped. That’s right, I was already divorced from my wife, and on my way to visit my son like i did 3 to 4 times a week and suddenly I became victim of one of those express kidnappings. Some time later, in 2000, while traveling alone for a month through Bolivia and Peru, I started on reflecting on my quality of life in an urban metropolis, on the kidnapping, and whether that’s the life I wanted for my children etc. So while visiting Macchu Picchu, I made the decision to move to the farm and begin a new life. On June, 13 of 2000, I arrived at the Retiro Santo Antônio farm to embark upon my new life project: planting shiitake mushrooms. That is what I did for a few years with much joy and motivation, and it was through the shiitake that I met my current wife, who also produced it. In early 2004, the second best thing in my life occured (do you remember how the first was a kidnapping?): there was a widespread contamination of the eucalyptus logs where the shiitake mushroom were being cultivated and I ended up losing 80% of my production. I almost went bankrupt.

1999 Children's Day: social event organized by Mr. Aldo and “Dona” Marlene with the children and grandchildren of employees.
Up to that point, I helped my parents very little with the rest of the farm. They continued living in São Paulo while traveling to the farm almost weekly. Everytime they came, there were always many problems to solve. They were the ones that initiated a large portion of all the social programs that we have kept until this day, such as religious masses, the celeberation of the Santo Antônio festivities, the giving out of gifts and Easter activities for the children, in addition to the continuous improvements and reforms to the farm. When they finally tired of that routine that they had been following for nearly 10 years (since 1994), they decided to sell the farm. At that moment I panicked, would I have go to back to São Paulo? Once again work wearing a suit and a tie? It was then that I made the difficult decision to completely stop producing mushrooms, and instead help them with the rest of the farm, especially with the coffee plantation.
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Since the Chapel could not even fit the priest, in 2003 Mr. Aldo and “Dona” Marlene built a hall to give more comfort to the participants in the masses of the community. The photo on the right is the first celebration in the new hall.
Despite living in the farm for 4 years, I knew next to nothing about coffee production, but thanks to the help of our former administrator, Mr. Luiz Tozzini, a wise 80 year old man that had been working in the farm since 1955, I began to gradually learn while falling in love with the coffee culture. Knowing that I still had so much more to learn, I applied myself to its study, visited various producers and research institutes, attended field days, seminars, etc. and bit by bit we began to implement new ideas to our farm, to the despair of Mr. Tozzini, who held on to his traditional working methods that he had learned and practised for decades. At the time we did not realize what we were creating, but that's when the Sustainable Coffee that we produce to this day was born.

Our expert and irreplaceable manager Mr. Luiz Tozzini, who worked at Retiro Santo Antônio Farm from 1955 to 2011.
At first I was faced with doubters - including other producers - for trying to do something unconventional, but who would be crazy enough to support an Electronic Engineer wanting to change plantation methods that had been conducted for decades? I am not even sure I would have....

Tribute we all did to Mr. Luiz Tozzini, on the day of his move to the city in 2011 after 56 years of dedication to Fazenda Santo Antônio.
In 2009, even though we had produced coffee for just 5 years, we were awarded with "Brazil's Outstanding Coffee Farmer" prize by the CECAFÉ - Council of Brazilian Coffee Exporters, giving us the conviction that we were on the right path.

Award ceremony of the "Brazil´s Outstanding Coffee Farmer" in May 2009, hosted by Cecafé - Council of Coffee Exporters from Brazil
And we continue our history to this today, always learning, innovating, looking for harmony with everyone around us, and the balance to tackle the social needs, while at the same time contributing to the preservation of nature.The difficulties that we face in our daily lives are not few, but we always aim to steer this tiny space of land called Retiro Santo Antônio with all the respect that people and nature deserve, so that my children, the great-grandchildren of my grandparents Nenê and José, who were born here, have the pride of continuing writing new chapters to this story, if it is their wish!
 
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