Learn how to cut, peel and process sugar cane using a traditional mill that is operated by horses (traditionally, oxen). Watch the sweet juice pour out as the sugar cane is passed through the mill. Then, help stir the juice over a wood burning fire to create a thick soup. When it is ready, you will pour the mixture into traditional molds, to form the sugar cane final product. Add peanuts, herbs, and different flavors to your liking. Then later, when everything has cooled down, enjoy some local food, such as patacones or banana ceviche, served on banana leaves. Just don't leave before the sugar cane candies are ready to eat with some coffee!
About 50 years ago there was only dulce from sugar cane, there was no processed sugar. Now everything is industrialized and everyone just buys sugar. From sugar cane, we can make sweet juice, candies. honey, caramel, and have natural sweeteners for our coffee and tea.
"When times got tough, most people left Rancho Quemado. We stayed. We knew we could contribute to what makes the community prosper. It was a big step for us: to believe. It’s not easy to believe, right? Every day that passes we see that we’ve been successful."
Johnny and Noemy have been active members of change in the community. When agriculture prices dropped and work became difficult in Rancho Quemado, most people left. Johny and Noemy stayed, believing it was a good place to people and knowing that they could be part of what makes Rancho Quemado prosper. They learned what community really meant during the difficult economic times.
The sugar cane mill is called Don Carmen, named after Johnny's father, the inspiration. Don Carmen will turn 93 this year.
Johnny works in construction, however, they believe that they cannot just be consumers, they also need to produce. In his heart, Johnny loves agriculture and working with a sugar cane mill. His father came from Guanacaste and grew up in this business. He says it is in his roots. About 8 years ago, they got the first piece of a traditional mill and Johny's Dad inspired him to build a wooden mill. Most people in Rancho Quemado didn't even know what a traditional sugar cane mill looked like. Now they are learning, through Johnny and Noemy, how to make natural sugar without the use of chemicals or heavy processing. They even invite the local school kids to make class trips to the house to learn hands-on.