Introduced to Cafe Campesino by their farming mentor, Skip Glover of Douglasville, GA, Jenny and Chris Jackson (above) began selling fair trade, organic, shade grown coffee at the farm stand of their livelihood, Jenny Jack Sun Farm, in Pine Mountain, GA, in 2008.
Growers of produce that is chemical fertilizer and pesticide free, Jenny and Chris believe in doing what is right for the land as well as for the folks that eat the food they grow. And they experience first hand how labor intensive a farmer’s life can be. According to Jenny, “Our customers really appreciate having access to such a high quality, fresh, organic coffee when they come by to get their fruits and vegetables. Since learning about how important it is to support fair trade, we only buy Cafe Campesino and often give it as a gift to folks we know appreciate good coffee!”
“I got a chance to visit the coffee house in Americus a couple of years ago, just after we started carrying Cafe Campesino coffee at our farm stand. Tripp was so kind as to give my friend and I a tour of the roastery,” she tells us. Jenny and Chris are quite the hospitable hosts as well. From school field trip tours and dinners at the farm for guests to CSA memberships and farmers markets for customers, they love what they do and it shows!
Cafe Campesino supports local, sustainable, healthy foods. We’re glad to know Jenny and Chris and wish them many a bountiful harvest. Note: GPB’s Georgia Traveler “discovered” Cafe Campesino when host David Zelski picked up a bag of organic coffee at their farm stand. As he read the package, he realized that a fair trade coffee company was just down the road. Read about GPB’s visit.
SUSTAINABILITY SERIES – EDIBLE LANDSCAPING
We have all been told at some point, ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too.’ And that may be true, but you can have a beautiful flowering landscape and eat that! Edible landscaping is a way to maximize the use of yard space while creating a beautiful, peaceful, and productive landscape. Fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables, grape vines, herbs, and medicinal plants can all be substituted into any landscape providing value beyond the aesthetics of traditional ornamentals and flower beds. Better yet, not all edibles have to be consumed to add benefit to your landscape. There are several vegetables and herbs, if allowed to grow past the harvest period, that can serve as pest deterrents, beneficial insect attractants, and soil builders for other plant groupings. Varieties of radish, carrots, onions, garlic, members of the legume family, and most flowering herbs are just a few companion plants that have these properties.
Here in Americus, we have been fortunate to have landscaping assistance from Mary Gramling, a dedicated volunteer with an incredible green thumb! She has helped us establish around the Cafe an easy to manage landscape that combines edibles with native and drought tolerant perennials to create a blooming atmosphere where you can sometimes find a small snack! “Thank you” Ms. Mary, for all of your hard work! Our edible design includes in-ground plantings, small container gardens and several scattered pots of tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, avocado, coffee, basil, oregano, yarrow, nasturtium, and mint. Most recently, Joe added a touch of sweetness with the addition of a peach tree and some blueberries. Marco (and the water hose) helps keep it all alive in the south GA heat!
With food concerns of source, safety, and security on the rise, it is more important than ever to make a conscious effort to reconnect with our land. For many, this can be a simple change of what you’re planting – squash, okra, and tomatoes where you once planted periwinkles, petunias and pansies. For others, it may mean adding small containers of peppers and eggplant on the deck of your apartment. Edible landscaping takes advantage of the resources you input and gives back a tasty treat!
SUSTAINABILITY SERIES – XERISCAPE
It is estimated that for most of North America, over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. How many of us have seen the sprinkler system at the bank watering on a rainy day? Or witnessed a similar system that waters the street as much as the lawn?
Because water is now considered to be an increasingly expensive and limited resource, it is important to look closely at our needs for water and possibly reevaluate some of our uses. ‘Xeriscape’ design refers to landscaping with techniques that will reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation. While originally developed for drought afflicted areas, the principles of xeriscape landscaping can be applied in any geographic region of North America – to any space (commercial or residential), to any size (large or small) and the benefits abound! Xeriscape saves water; actually reducing water use on a landscape by as much as 50-75%.
Because water requirements are low, correlating maintenance is minimal.
The use of native plants eliminates, in large part, the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Healthy organic soil should provide ample nutrients for plants living in their natural climate zone. Additionally, these plants will provide a natural habitat for native wildlife and beneficial insects.
While a landscaped yard can improve property values, xeriscape offers investment protection with drought proofing and low maintenance.
By reducing the size of turf areas, xeriscape design decreases fossil fuel emissions from gas mowers and other equipment.
Implementation requires you keep in mind the fundamental purpose of water conservation. Then:
1) Plan: analyze the property, looking for ways to maximize the use of any natural precipitation and incorporate drought resistant plant varieties. Consider: cardinal direction, large trees, fences, walkways, structures, areas of sun and shade, any natural contours, drainage and runoff.
2) Work on building healthy soil capable of draining quickly and storing water. Compost is critical in a water conserving landscape for these properties. Exceptions to this are cacti and succulent groupings that prefer sandy soils with fewer nutrients.
3) Reduce the size of turf areas as much as possible and consider native grass varieties. Curved swaths will maximize the efficiency of conventional sprinklers.
4) Use appropriate plantings in appropriate areas. By grouping together plants with similar watering needs, you can establish zones of differing water amounts and capitalize on efficient water use.
5) Mulching your plants (several inches) is a vital follow-up for moisture retention, temperature control, preventing erosion and blocking out weeds.
6) Irrigating with soaker hoses and drip-systems helps deliver water directly to the base of the plant, encouraging root absorption and reducing evaporation.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of xeriscape is that by practicing these principals, you will establish a beautiful landscape you can feel confident in leaving while on vacation, even in the heat of summer!
MICHIZA (Oaxaca region of Mexico) Cooperative: Yeni Navan
(Editor’s note: You may have noticed that our Mexican coffee now carries the name Oaxaca rather than the perhaps more familiar Chiapas. In our efforts to support more coffee farmer cooperatives that share our fair trade, organic values, we now offer two regional varieties of coffee from Mexico – Chiapas for about half of the year and Oaxaca for the other half of the year.)
- Founded in 1985
- 1033 members, of which 321 are women (2008). This represents 1% of farmers in Oaxaca region
- First international exports occurred in 1989
- Present in 43 communities
- Coffee is Organic Certified by NATURLAND, Germany
- The English translation of Yeni Navan is “permanent sunrise”
Yeni Navan began as a small organization linking coffee producers from various ethnic groups in the regions around Oaxaca. The name MICHIZA is an abbreviation of these five indigenous groups: Mixtecos, Chinantecos, Chatinos, Cuicatecos and Zapotecos. The coop was formed in order to eliminate the local intermediaries, known as coyotes in Spanish, who are notorious for exploiting coffee farmers in the process of pricing and exporting their coffee.
Initially, MICHIZA’s coffee was sold only to the local market. But by 1989, the organization obtained legal status under the name Yeni Navan and gained the legal capacity to export internationally through an exporter. By 1991, they started exporting independently.
MICHIZA offers technical support to its members to improve their capacity in organic agriculture and overall coffee quality and yields. MICHIZA is also responsible for marketing and the direct export of their members’ coffee. As an organization, they aim to include women’s participation in their decision-making, the impact of which is noted in the number of women who are members. In 2008, members discussed the formation of a Women’s Commitee in order to develop projects better adapted to their needs.
The cooperative holds regular meetings (every two months) at their offices in the state’s capital. A delegate from each community attends the meetings, some traveling up to 6 hours to get to the capital from their local region. Topics covered in the meetings range from administrative business to current and potential developmental projects on the go.
The main objective of Yeni Navan is to raise the living standard of its partners and family through a sustainable agriculture and the construction of a fairer and more equitable market. The members of the cooperative have a diversified production model and also produce oranges, corn, beans, and sugar cane.
Tags: biodiversity, Chatinos, Chinantecos, coyotes, Cuicatecos, indigenous collaboration, Mexico, MICHIZA Cooperative, Mixtecos, Oaxaca, Sustainability, technical support, Women's Committee, women's empowerment, Yeni Navan, Zapotecos
Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares de Poco Fundo e Regi (Brazil)
COOPFAM is an association of small-scale farmers located in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil. The group was formed from a collective desire to improve the living standard of farmers and to reduce poverty and emigration. In 1991, seventy-six families united to form the cooperative, determined to increase the productivity of their small plots and sustain the quality of family-oriented agriculture in the region. COOPFAM was Fair Trade certified by Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) in 1998 and began exporting to the United States in 2003.
At the inaugural Brazilian Fair Trade Certified Cupping competition in 2008, COOPFAM president Luis Adauto de Oliveira’s organic coffee received the first place prize in the natural category. The coffee was auctioned for $7.20 per pound – a price more than five dollars higher than that typically paid for Fair Trade organic coffee. Luis’ winning coffee was dried on a cement drying patio funded through the Responsible Sourcing Partnership project.
With their Fair Trade premium, COOPFAM has built a storage and processing facility for member use, and purchased tractors and other equipment as well as office technology and equipment to improve supply management and marketing. They have also purchased a car that is used to visit member farms and attend meetings. To improve member training sessions they invested in a projector, laptop, digital camera and mobile telephones. The cooperative also hired an agronomist to support and give training to member families as well as provide soil analysis and harvesting and handling training. Technical assistance for producers is fundamental in COOPFAM’s promotion of sustainable, organic production.
The co-op has used Fair Trade revenue to broaden healthcare coverage for co-op members and their families. They have developed a partnership with a health service provider to offer basic coverage to members. Services include access to a general practitioner, women’s health services, vision and dental care. COOPFAM also makes donations to the local public hospital and helps with special projects. The coop has also implemented computer education classes for children and the community. They have also established a partnership with a private school to offer quality education to children of cooperative members.
COOPFAM has expanded the local electricity network to provide electrical access to everyone in the community. In an innovative effort, members of the cooperative manage a community farm with a house that serves as senior citizen residence for elderly members. All profits generated from the community farm are invested back into the house to pay for food, medicine, and maintenance expenses.
Cooperative Coffees met President Luis Adauto de Oliveira in 2009 and imported the first lot of COOPFAM coffee in 2010.
(Buy this coffee at 10% off through March 30th when you apply coupon code BRAZIL at checkout.)
Georgia Organics’ 13th Annual Conference Recap
Eating is sacred. Food should not be wasted. Reclaim your food system. Reclaim agriculture! If there were a rallying cry at the 13th annual Georgia Organics conference held in Athens Feb. 19-20 – “Reclaim your culture! Reclaim Agriculture!” –was it.
Leading that rallying cry was a gray-bearded Italian man who kept an audience of more than 1,000 hanging on his every word through the help of a translator. Carlo Petrini, Slow Food founder and conference keynote speaker, urged attendees to demand healthier, locally focused food production systems from politicians and decision makers. He also boasted that within one day of arriving in Georgia, he had become a fan of a Southern delicacy- collard greens and potlicker.
Celebrating traditional dishes, supporting local, organic food production and working to reclaim agricultural systems was the theme of this year’s Georgia Organics conference, and Cafï¿½ Campesino was proud to be a part of it.
Tripp and Bill led a Saturday educational session on Fair Trade discussing its role in the food system, drawing parallels between it and the organics movement and underscoring the commitments of Cafï¿½ Campesino and Cooperative Coffees to the principles of both.
Their presentation on Fair Trade was one of the many opportunities for best-practice sharing that filled this conference- including specialized workshops and intimate farm tours- that offered attendees with the tools and support they will need to carry this vision of a changed food system into reality.
The practice of collaborating with local farmers and bringing healthy, locally grown food options back into schools, homes and restaurants is gaining momentum and receiving attention statewide. In the few weeks since the conference, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Athens-Banner Herald, Atlanta’s Finest Dining, the Macon Telegraph, Atlanta’s Creative Loafing and other publications across the state have written about Georgia’s sustainable food movement.
And this discussion would likely still be on the back-burner if it weren’t for the vision and commitment of organic farmers throughout the state, the support and organizing capacity of Georgia Organics and the dedication of individuals committed to the movement.
Some of these individuals were honored by Georgia Organics during a short awards ceremony held at the Saturday night Farmers’ Feast where Mr. Petrini presented. Andy and Hilda Byrd of Whippoorwill Hollow Farm were honored with the Georgia Organics Land Stewardship award, which recognized their energetic commitment to the organics movement that has included building and growing two farmers markets in the Atlanta area and serving as committed mentors to new farmers.
Julie Shaffer, Emory University’s Sustainable Food Service Education Coordinator and founder of Slow Food Atlanta, was also honored with the Barbara Petit Pollinator Award for her work to promote the local food movement in various restaurants, schools, institutions and public agencies across the state.
Georgia-based chefs who are leading the farm-to-table movement in the restaurant industry were also recognized. They included Ron Eyester of Rosebud, Michael Deihl of East Lake Golf Club, Bruce Logue of La Pietra Cucina, Shaun Doty of Shaun’s, Kevin Gillespie of Woodfire Grill, Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia, Floataway Cafï¿½ and Abbattoir and Hugh Acheson of Five & Ten, who organized a dinner that pulled together the talents of these chefs and others to serve more than 1,000 people.
Chefs, farmers, foodies and revolutionaries – Georgia Organics pulled them all together for a delightful, delicious and energized conference. Job well done. And rest assured, we’re ready to keep the momentum going.
It is hard to beat good southern cooking, especially when the vittles are prepared by an all-start cast of Atlanta’s best chefs! On February 21st, it was our privilege to provide the coffee for an evening with Slow Food International (www.slowfood.com) Founder Carlo Petrini at a Slow Food Atlanta Family Dinner hosted by downtown Decatur, Georgia’s famed Watershed Restaurant. In addition to sharing five courses of reinterpreted southern family recipes – each course inspired by a food memory from the preparing chef – we enjoyed a word from Carlo on the importance of Terra Madreand the future of the Slow Food movement. We were also enchanted by the talent of Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls and a co-owner of Watershed singing a few of her (and our) favorites. Bill represented Cafe Campesino at the event and said he just didn’t want the evening to end! A big thank you to Judith and Slow Food Atlanta for including us at the Family Dinner and in your important work!
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE…
By now, this is a very familiar slogan for most people and an obvious point of discussion in a ‘Sustainability Series’, right? And when we talk about waste management, recycling is certainly a huge component. So huge, in fact, that recycling is often thought of first. When it comes time to throw something away, we ask ourselves, ‘is this recyclable’? And it may indeed be; but what happens if we actually express an order of importance and place these actions (reduce, reuse, recycle) into a waste management hierarchy? â€” first: reduce, then: reuse, finally: recycle.
- Reduce needless consumption and the generation of waste.
- Reuse any item that can be reused or give it to a person or charity that can.
- Recycle whatever discards remain, if you can, and only dispose of what you must.
Reducing the generation of waste so that there is no waste left to recycle would be the ideal. And while in this hierarchy, recycling is your least preferred option, please keep in mind that you can recycle organic matter on your own (food and yard waste) with composting. Also keep in mind the concept of “cycle” in the term “recycle”. For there to be a complete cycle, the things you send to be recycled must come back to you. This means looking for products and packaging made with post-consumer content when you shop; otherwise the cycle stops short.
In the coffee house, we deal with the task of delivering to the community ‘to-go’ coffee drinks and snacks while striving to minimize our eco-footprint. We encourage folks to bring their own re-usable cup for a 10% discount. Our paper serving cups and bowls are 100% compostable/paper recyclable and are made from 24% post consumer content; while our ‘plastic’ to-go cups are made from corn. Even still, we worry about the quantity of our own waste. The ‘corn plastic’ is the compostable option to recyclable plastic, however, in a traditional backyard pile they can take a very long time to breakdown. We are currently evaluating whether the corn option is truly saving them from a garbage can or if our customers would recycle a plastic to-go cup and thus reduce landfill waste.
It is important to think about recycling before it ever gets to the point of handling waste. This means to think about the packaging of the products we buy, to buy in bulk where possible, to substitute reusable items for consumables, to use cloth grocery bags when shopping, to buy recycled products and to make recycling an easy habit at home. The choice about what to purchase may not always be easy and it takes practice to change a lifestyle. What we strive for here at Café Campesino is to give it our best shot and to continue to look for a better way.
We welcome your feedback on this or any other subject. Remember you can write to us anytime firstname.lastname@example.org.
Through the very essence of fairly traded, organically produced, and shade grown product, Café Campesino has taken a stance towards promoting sustainability. We, along with fellow members of Cooperative Coffees, recognize our ability to significantly impact the process of growing, harvesting, purchasing, transporting, roasting, and distributing coffee beans in a manner that meets present ecological, societal, and economical demands and without compromising the success or needs for future generations. We now hope to open up a dialogue about the importance of sustainability, to offer practical solutions for managing waste, and to further explore our own practice from ‘crop to cup’, and beyond.
So stay tuned to this series for discussions about reducing/reusing/recycling, water conservation, energy efficiency, gardening/Community Supported Agriculture, home and yard care (including edible landscaping, definitely a delicious idea!) We’ve got some things to share and we hope you will join in by following the series, by submitting your ideas and questions, as well as applying practical changes to your lifestyle that promote sustainability. We all have a contribution to make and together we can, no doubt, make a difference. We begin with a practical use for a waste product that we create a lot of: used coffee grounds.
Coffee Grounds 101
We discard our pail of ‘spent’ grounds and filters into our very own composting system and dispense to local growers at their request. In this manner, our grounds serve a great purpose of conditioning our community soil and avoiding the expensive transportation costs to a regional landfill. Composting coffee grounds is quite simple if you have an existing unturned pile. Discard the grounds to your pile making sure to add or cover with a high carbon source (dried leaves or shaved wood). This is important because coffee grounds are a solid nitrogen source having a carbon to nitrogen ration of about 20:1 (the same range as green manure!). The grounds will provide the heat the pile needs to accelerate decomposition, a lesson in chemistry right at your backdoor. If you are building a pile from scratch, it is good to use a layering technique by alternating one part fresh grass clippings to one part coffee grounds, by volume, turning once a week. Your compost will generally be ready in 3-6 months time. By recycling this valuable soil amendment and compost ingredient at the coffee house, we achieve a sense of economic relief, environmental pride, and social responsibility. You can too!
We welcome your feedback on this or any other subject. Remember you can write to us anytime email@example.com.
In last month’s newsletter, I promised to write a “State of Fair Trade” piece for this month’s edition. I made this promise as we were returning from a week of hard work and plenty of laughs in Nicaragua with representatives from most of our Latin American trading partners and fellow members of Cooperative Coffees. On several occasions during this past week I turned on the laptop, sat down in the “writing chair,” and attempted to bang out this promised treatise. I began as I usually do, creating a brief mind-map of ideas and angles, starting with a plea against being “labeled.” I followed with the common coffee labels – organic, Fair Trade Certified, Utz Certified, Rainforest Alliance, and such. Then came the snappy, “You can certify a product, but you can’t certify a relationship.” Then letters – TFUSA (TransfairUSA), FLO (Fair Trade Labeling Organization), IFAT (International Fair Trade Association), FTF (Fair Trade Federation), USFT (United Students for Fair Trade), FTRN (Fair Trade Resource Network) — some were circled, others scratched through, each representing a significant piece of the way we do business. But running this business demands so much more than an impressive collection of acronyms. Finally, the brain purge produced questions about the way our economy works and where Fair Trade fits in to that economy with companies like Sam’s Club jumping into the Fair Trade movement.
So where is this article headed? Here’s where it almost headed: to a place that would allow me to air more complaints about the State of Fair Trade, that would attempt to articulate our frustration with the low-bar approach to Fair Trade that now dominates the US coffee scene, that questions the reality and benefits of a system that celebrates token involvement from companies like Sam’s and Wal-Mart. But an article like that will probably be read by only a few people, enjoyed by fewer, and only really understood by fellow frustrated Fair Traders.
I was rescued from this Fair Trade writing abyss by a late afternoon phone call with another Fair Trade importer who, after hearing of challenges that we are having with one of our long-time trading partners, stated, “Stay positive. I think you can work this out. You gotta keep the faith…”
We started Cafe Campesino almost 10 years ago with a heavy dose of this kind of trusting optimism and knowledge that good things do happen when you work hard, stay true to your principles, and “keep the faith”. We find the Fair Trade environment to be quite challenging these days. Sometimes I find myself searching for terminology that better describes what we really do, like “friend trade” rather than “Fair Trade”. But buzz words are just buzz words, and labels are just labels – what really matters is the meaning behind them. So rather than harp on what is wrong with this perplexing movement as Fair Trade principled organizations are challenged by the proliferation of Fair Trade certified products, I will focus on what we at Cooperative Coffees are calling our “Fair Trade checklist”. This list highlights what, in our opinion, real Fair Trade looks like and why, in a crowded Fair Trade marketplace, we are different. So if you want to find glowing reports on the movement or dire predictions for the demise of Fair Trade, look for a different article. Both types are easy to find. Your search is over if you like to sip coffee that has these principles behind it:
• Commitment to place the trading partners, their identity, and their product front and center. We do not hide behind anecdotes of sourcing from secret, mystical mountains – we want our customers to know the people who grow our coffee.
• Commitment to proactively connect through business on a personal level. We want relationships to become friendships. We encourage visits/exchange that cultivate a transparent, personal relationship with ongoing contact and dialogue.
• We are willing to introduce trading partners to other potential Fair Trade partners in the US and facilitate new opportunities for the trading partner. We unselfishly share information and actively introduce trading partners to more market opportunities, even if this doesn’t serve our best business interests.
• We understand the consequences of entering into a long-term contract and relationship with marginalized producers — a relationship that promises hope for the future but is risky. We prioritize fulfilling our commitment, regardless of the circumstances.
• We are putting in place an industry-leading transparent document trail that will allow our customers to trace any cup of coffee back to the cooperative that exported it, and ultimately to the farmer who grew it.
• We are willing to walk away from a potential business opportunity when other Fair Traders are already in place.
• We accept and respect the unique organizational structure and culture of the trading partner. We do not impose democracy – but we do encourage it.
• Our contracts exceed Fair Trade standard pricing formulas and should be acceptable to trading partners based on their actual costs of doing business, their cost of living, and more subjective financial needs. We ask them how much they need us to pay, per pound, so that the system works for them. We cannot always meet the price – but usually we can and, most importantly, this is a two-way conversation. We are committed to building alternative pricing models that replace the current NY ‘C’ pricing scheme which mainly serves Wall Street.
• We don’t want to be the only buyers of our trading partners’ coffee! This is illogical in today’s market of limited editions and exclusive contracts…but this position is certainly in the best interest of the producers.
• We believe all trade should be fair and are developing a scaleable approach to trading fairly that other folks can copy, not a self-serving model that is admirable but not applicable to the industry as a whole.
Our Business Practices…
• We address prefinancing proactively, openly, and up front. We do NOT believe in a “don’t ask-don’t tell” prefinance policy that seems to have become the industry norm.
• We recognize that the established Fair Trade coffee standards, including minimum pricing, are not adequate and should not define our relationships with our producers. Those standards simply play the role of insurance. We get excited by the depth, breadth and scope of the relationship. Insurance is something to fall back on, not a measure of success.
• We consider open price contracts that adjust based on market conditions to be the standard. Fixed price contracts are dangerous for the coop in a rising market, so we opt not to use them.
• We do not have other products subsidizing our overhead. If we do it, it is Fair Trade.
Tags: company mission, Cooperative Coffees, Cooperative Coffees philosophy, democracy, dialogue, direct relationships, Fair Trade, Fair Trade issues, fair wage, FLO, friendships, FTF, FTRN, IFAT, labeling, Latin America, long term commitments, Nicaragua, open price contracts, organic, prefinancing, Producer Voice, Rainforest Alliance, Sam's Club, scaleable approach, Sustainability, TFUSA, the state of Fair Trade, transparency, USFT, Utz Certified, Wal-Mart
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