Any visitor to Ka’ana will tell you that one of its most memorable charms is the two-acre organic garden. We take great pride in producing delicious vegetables, fruits and herbs that our guests can savor every day. And we have Abimael Denmar Coh to thank. As head gardener, he’s responsible for making sure things are going—and growing—well here at Ka’ana.
Abi has been with Ka’ana for five years, and has overseen the garden for two. Since his childhood days in the Mayan village of San Antonio, Abi was interested in Maya culture and spending time in the garden. “My grandfather and father sent me to study, but I still had that fondness for gardening, and they’re the ones who taught me a lot of what I know today,” he says.
In Belize, he finds that tomato, lettuce, radish, zucchini, and cucumber are “very easy to grow,” as these unfussy plants don’t need much besides water. Sweeter plants, though, like watermelon, cantaloupe and sweet pepper, are “solar delicate,” and attract insects, requiring a lot of TLC. At Ka’ana, where we grow many plants following organic protocols, he’s got his work cut out for him.
“Since we cannot use pesticides in these plants,” explains Abi, “we spray them with organic-made controls, such as habanero spray made from soaked habanero peppers. This spray chases away the insects for a day or two, but then it needs to be sprayed again.” More toxic pesticides, meanwhile, chase the insects away for months, requiring significantly less oversight. The extra work makes Abi extremely proud of his achievements at Ka’ana. “It’s my biggest achievement,” he says. “In my village, we use a lot of different insecticides in our farms, but at Ka’ana it’s very much different.” His tools? A sharp knife, a machete, hoe, spraying can, boots—”especially in the rainy season”—and, “of course a lot of time and attention.”
Over the years, Abi has helped our farm become a model for organic farming practices, and every day our chefs have access to an abundance of fresh produce. “My favorite part of gardening would definitely be harvesting all my vegetables,” Abi says. “People enjoy what I grow, and it’s safe for them since it’s organic.”
We now are offering a Gardening 101 experience where you can tour our 2-acre garden, learn all about the seeding process (from egg shell to ground) and the secret gardening techniques we use to make things grow and even make your mark by contributing to our garden with a plant of your own.
Want to explore the garden with Abi? Be sure to stop by during your next time at Ka’ana.