There has been a lot of talk about pollinators in recent years, and how the declining populations of honeybees will affect food production. But have you ever wondered how it all started? When I began to write this, I had a rather broad understanding of pollination. However, the more I learned, the more questions I had. How did pollination come into being? Why is it so important to us now? Let’s take a deep dive into ancient history to learn a little more about the origins of pollination.
Pollination is believed to have begun around 130-150 million years ago. Basically, pollination is plant sex: the way plants spread and combine their genetic material to create new generations of plants. It is also essential to the production of fruit and seed crops that form the basis of our current food system. In the earliest forms of pollination, plants would scatter their pollen (male seed) to the wind and hope that a portion would land in the right spot on a female flower (staimen) and voila, there would be “chemistry”! However, this is an extremely unreliable way to reproduce. Although many plants still use this method, most have evolved into a primary relationship to collaborate with insects.
As early insects were flying around in search for food, they discovered how nutritious pollen was. Then several specialists decided to make it the main source and feed solely upon this nourishing golden dust of microspores. As the plants grew and thrived as a result of these relationships, they began to “sweeten the deal” by creating nectar for the services rendered. Flowers began to evolve bright colors to stand out and attract insects, distinguishing themselves from the green leaves and foliage that offered no sweet reward for the hard-working pollinators.
Millions of years have passed since the first flowers developed their pollination practice into the stunning displays we see today. This mutualistic relationship has changed the entire appearance of the earth, into the bright and colorful flowers and the vast variety of fruits and vegetables we all enjoy.
Learning the evolution of pollination from its ancient origins to the intricate and collaborative relationship that now occurs has been an inspiration to me. I hope the next time you receive a bouquet of flowers or taste the sweet juices of your favorite fruit, you think of the 130 million year journey it took to reach you.
For the twelfth year in a row, the Noyo Food Forest is having their Earth Day celebration next Saturday at the Learning Garden. This four hour event is a fundraiser for the Farm-to-School and Youth Intern programs that the Noyo Food Forest operates year-round. We partner with the Noyo Food Forest throughout the year, and we especially love being a part of this annual event in Fort Bragg.
12th Annual Earth Day Event
Saturday, April 21, 12-5PM
At the Learning Garden behind the Fort Bragg High School on Dana Street.
This Earth Day event is free and geared toward everyone in the family. There will be live music, and you can participate by putting down a bid for the silent auction, paying entry to bouncy houses, and tasting goodies from local chefs. This is one of the most fun events that happens in the city of Fort Bragg every year, and we are looking forward to it once again in 2018. Local organizations and nonprofits are a big part of this event, and you’ll see booths and representatives from the Noyo Marine Science Center, the Mendocino Land Trust, our Mendocino County state parks and many more important parts of the coastal community.
Thanksgiving Coffee will be serving up samples of our Bee Bold Coffee, and the Noyo Food Forest will be selling 12oz bags, as well. All the proceeds benefit the Noyo Food Forest and their important work here in our community. We are very happy to be a part of this awesome event. For more information, visit the Noyo Food Forest Earth Day page on their website, and RSVP on Facebook to share with your friends. Join us on April 21 – see you at the Learning Garden.
Thanksgiving Coffee and the Noyo Food Forest Partnership
For every bag of Thanksgiving Coffee’s Bee Bold Coffee sold online, 25% is donated to the Noyo Food Forest. You can purchase these online, or stop by the Earth Day event this Saturday to pick one up in person.
Thanksgiving Coffee Company Not Just A Cup, But A Just Cup 2017 Roaster of the Year
Thanksgiving Coffee Company has created Bee Bold Coffee, made a commitment to our bees, and is ready to share it with Mendocino.
In October, Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op (UNF) had their grand re-opening. After 39 years they remodeled their store, and we thought it a perfect time to introduce Bee Bold Mendocino, a local movement to save the bees. So Paul Katzeff, Co-Founder & CEO (pictured in the middle), Jonah Katzeff Vice President (below right) , and myself, Lavender Cinnamon, Community Development (below left), all went to UNF to represent Thanksgiving Coffee and share our commitment to the bees.
Bee Bold Mendocino came about when Friends Of the Earth (FOE) asked Paul for a donation. He offered instead to create a source of ongoing support for their environmental work. As the partnership began to take shape they said, “help us fund our Bee Bold project “. Paul did just that and created #Bee Bold Coffee. The project went straight to his heart, and so did the bees. (link)
When I joined Thanksgiving Coffee Company this past year, this partnership with FOE was just taking flight, and it took hold of my heart as well. It has instilled in me a deeper understanding for this delicate balance of life that we all share, and inspired me to become a steward of the bees. “Everything the bees do is about relationship with one another. The story of colony collapse is a story of how the relationships have been broken, contaminated, or subverted. It is a story of ignorance, thoughtlessness and selfishness- qualities we humans bring to far too many of our relationships, from the most personal and intimate, to the most global and insitutional” Jacqueline Freeman – The Song of Increase(link)
There are many factors at play regarding the health of the bees, however the three main reasons for the decline in the bee populations are; systemic pesticides – neonicotinoids, malnutrition, and disease/mites. The latter being a result of the first two; if your system is poisoned and not properly nourished, your susceptibility to disease is drastically increased. (link) This is what modern farming practices are doing to the health of the pollinators. If we do not learn from this now and change the way we relate to our food, we will not have healthy food left to eat. The simple truth is, do not poison the land, do not poison the water, use the plants as medicine, and grow healthy nourishing food.
As an advocate for Mendocino’s bees, Thanksgiving Coffee Company is committed to educate, gather support from our community, and create an advisory committee to pass a local ordinance that will ban these neonicotinoids (bee killing pesticides) within Mendocino County. This is why we said “yes” to be a part of Ukiah Natural’s event. This is why Thanksgiving Coffee joined the movement to help save the bee population, and this is how Bee Bold Mendocino was created. (link)
There is no way to do this alone. We need to work with the knowledge of those who are already engaged with bees and pollinators. So, we reached out to the community to join us, and we had a wonderful response that included; 2 local bee keepers, 2 farmers, and a table set up to create your own pollinator seed balls.
Our beekeepers came from inland and the coast. Jonathan Hunt (on left) is part of the 4-H bee keeping program in Ukiah. He contacted me and said he would love to come participate. He brought with him his delightful enthusiasm and knowledge of bee keeping, as well as some wild crafted seeds he had collected for people to take and plant.
Elliot Brooks (on right) came with a top bar hive, he had built himself, and his entire bee keeping gear. He also brought some of the honeycomb from his hive that the bees had made for people to see, and touch the magic of bees wax. It was an absolute delight to spend the day with them.
With the help of UNF a table was set up for people to come, get their hands dirty, and help create pollinator seed balls. These pollinator balls included: clay, fertilizer and native wild seeds. They are a way to help provide the necessary diversity of food sources the bees need for optimum health. Once you made the seed balls, you could to take them home for your own yard, or throw them into an open field or empty yard.
This idea for the pollinator seed ball table came from Tiffany at FOE when asked for suggestions on how to engage children into the wonderful world of bees. We all thought this was a great way to offer a hands on experience .
These seed bombs originate as a fun and friendly tactic for “guerrilla gardeners” to throw balls of seeds and fertilizer into fenced-off spaces that are otherwise neglected, or land in zoning limbo. We wanted to offer something for people to take home that can make an immediate difference. It was wonderful to see the hands of so many people making the seed balls, knowing that they will offer a great food source to our bees.
Speaking of dirt and seeds, Tim Ward joined us. He works as Director of Fundraising and Programming at the Grange Farm School. I came across their website when I was doing research on different organizations in Mendocino County we would like to help and to promote their work. It was very exciting to discover this school right here in Willits dedicated to “improve agricultural literacy, food security, and ecological stewardship in our community and beyond.” I love how they teach someone to be a complete farmer, taking into consideration all of the skills one needs to be a sustainable food producer. (link)
The School began in 2014 and operates on 12 acres of the Ridgewood Ranch, and is supported by a wide network across the region, state, nation, and world!
The Farm School recognizes the immediate need to train the next generation of farmers to support themselves, with a focus on production and distribution methods that emphasize long-term environmental responsibility.
The School builds on the rich agricultural heritage of Mendocino County and the Grange in its diverse and holistic educational programming for farmers, aspiring farmers, and youth. The Grange has been dedicated to serving the cooperative farming movement since 1867! And yes, the Grange Farm School cares for our bees, and cooperation, which is an amazing skill the bees teach.
We would be remiss if we did not have representation from the wineries. Mendocino County has over 17,000 acres of vineyards. It is essential that we help educate the vineyards and those who buy wine to the importance of the bees, even if grapes themselves are wind pollinated. Today 25% of Mendocino vineyards are growing certified organic grapes, with the Frey family’s winery being the first Organic winery in Mendocino County, and the Nation, back in 1980. If your wine is not organic, please ask if the winery uses neonicotinoids on the grapes. Help educate the wine industry on how to help keep our pollinators alive.
We had the pleasure of Mendocino County’s oldest winery joining us,
Parducci Wine Cellars (Certified organic). They understand the value and benefit of the bees. Jess Arnsteen came with Erin Ravin to share their organic, pollinator friendly practices. Parducci was the first carbon neutral winery in the country (2007) and in recognition of their continuing dedication to social responsibility and environmentally sound practices, they received California’s highest environmental award, the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. They are also leaders in water reclamation and water-conservation program.
Jess works as Manager of Edible Ecosystems where he tends his flock of sheep, and a 15-acre garden that feeds over 60 employees from Parducci . Jess is very involved with the chain of pollinator to food, he understands the importance of our pollinators and came with arms full of pollinator food/flowers to share with us. (link)
The entire event was a true pleasure, from the collaboration with Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op, who have been one of our loyal customers for over 38 years. It just felt like home.
Pictured here is Mary Anne Cox, Ukiah Natural’s Marketing Manager (on right) she was a real treasure to work with, and Lori Rosenburg (on left) Ukiah Natural’s General Manager was a wonderful host. We were graciously welcomed by the entire crew from UNF.
“Ukiah Natural Foods Co-op was incorporated in 1976. By serving the needs of our diverse membership, we have grown through the years. Our current store has more than 6,800 square feet of space, and we serve over a thousand shoppers each day.”
It seemed only natural to introduce our #Bee Bold Coffee at their re-opening event, as we work together towards the health of our community and our bees in Mendocino. If you are in Ukiah go on in, say hi, and pick up some of the #Bee Bold Coffee in their store.
Our most recent and exciting news since this event, is that Noyo Food Forest has joined us as the fiscal sponsor for Bee Bold Mendocino.
The Noyo Food Forest is a non-profit that grows community, as they say “one garden at a time”. They teach the value, and satisfaction of growing one’s own food, while giving support to local food sovereignty and independence. We are extremely grateful to Noyo Food Forest for all of their wonderful work. (link).
I leave you with one more quote from The Song of Increase.
“Evolution isn’t random. We all work together. The act of working together IS the evolution. Cooperation between us accelerates development of each species. The way we hold and support ourselves and each other advances our shared evolution”
Thanksgiving Coffee Company has created Bee Bold coffee as a pioneering product designed to fund a vital movement to save our bees. You can support our work and the bees with your morning cup of coffee.
Bee Bold Coffee is born out of our partnership with Friends of the Earth and their National campaign called Bee Bold. This movement has come to us with a mighty force and we want to share this with you as we introduce our new Bee Bold Coffee.
Bees are dying in droves worldwide! They are “canaries in the coal mine,” warning us of an imminent and frightening threat to our food.
One out of three bites of food we eat has been pollinated by honey bees and if we want to save the bees and ourselves we must do it now.
Together in this amazing collaboration full of bold vision, innovation, and awareness of the true costs of environmental inaction, we work to achieve a mutual goal, to ensure our planet is Bee Friendly.
Friends of the Earth (FOE) has been a true inspiration, as are the very bees themselves. FOE has asked for an immediate halt to the use of the dangerous neonicotinoids (neonics) pesticides in the U.S. These neonics have been identified as the main cause of the bees decline. The bees were the first indicator, now a serious decline in birds is being seen as these poisons make their way up the food chain.
Through this new awareness brought to Thanksgiving Coffee Company, we have made the commitment to urge local legislators to create a County ordinance that bans the use and sale of these neonics, in Mendocino County. This bee friendly policy will:
Prohibit the sale of plants and seeds treated with neonics.
Prohibit the use of neonics on all public lands including schools, and government buildings.
Ensure shelter and food sources for bees.
Advocate that marginal lands be allowed and encouraged for bee habitat, with forage trees, shrubs and flowers.
Support adoption of a tolerant attitude to feral bee colonies in buildings, and hive bee colonies in one’s neighborhood.
Introducing #BeeBold Coffee
These coffees benefit #BeeBold – a campaign that Friends of the Earth is leading. When you buy these coffees, 25% of your purchase goes to Friends of the Earth.
Seven coffees to choose from: Light, Medium, Dark, Very-Dark and Decaf.
The Namanyonyi Cooperative in Uganda is an interfaith community of Muslim, Christian and Jewish farmers who have put aside religious differences to produce a fine coffee called “Delicious Peace.”
The Clean Cook Stove project was born out of a climate change mitigation initiative brought to Namanyonyi Cooperative (formerly Mirembe Kawomera) in 2012. It began with planting trees. However, the trees were quickly devastated by the cooperative’s highly inefficient cooking methods.
The coop members knew that if they had more efficient ways to cook, they would lower their use of firewood. The Clean Cook Stoves were the solution. In the first phase of funding, we were able to provide Clean Cook Stoves to the most disadvantaged cooperative members. The first 44 stoves were built for the elderly, families with children, and single-parent families. This was completed by December of 2014.
Farida Wafidi with new Clean Cook Stove
The objective of Phase I was to test the ability of the coop and staff to find local materials and train local craftsmen, creating ongoing jobs with a new Clean Cook Stove trade or industry. Funds were generated by coop board using their Fair Trade premium and by Thanksgiving Coffee Company’s sales rebate of $1.00/ pkg. added to Delicious Peace coffee purchases by supporters of interfaith work.
With Phase I successfully completed, we now enter Phase II: to complete the next 50 stoves for this year. It is our goal to continue to provide guidance and funding for a “smokeless kitchen” with a clean cook stove for every member of Namanyonyi Cooperative by the end of 2016.
Clean Cook Stove Benefits
Aisa Kainza with new Clean Cook Stove
As a result of the Clean Cook Stove project, the rate of deforestation has been curbed. The newly planted trees can develop deep root systems which then allows the soil to become more fertile for food production as the trees bring up the water table. This rich soil further strengthens the coffee trees and other food crops grown for subsistence. This will improve food security for the area’s farmers by increasing the diversity of foods immediately available to farming families.
These stoves use 1/10 the fuel to produce a cooked meal, while the chimney directs smoke out of the kitchen, reducing the risks of respiratory disorders to all involved with cooking. They also reduce the risk of fire, given that the homes are made of dry banana fiber & grass-thatched roofs. This also lowers the chances of children getting burnt or even dying.
This project is designed to create a new indigenous industry. Over one million rural Ugandans use open fire kitchens in their highly flammable homes. Utilizing local materials and local craftsmen, this project will become a model for future funders. The Clean Cook Stoves are part Health Benefit, and part Climate change Mitigation, while also providing new employment opportunities. Scale will lower costs, increase the number of cook stoves builders, and form the basis of a new and healthier cultural norm.
Support this project by purchasing Delicious Peace Coffee. $0.50 per package sold will be used to fund Phase II of the Clean Cook Stove project.
By Paul Katzeff, CEO + Co-Founder, Thanksgiving Coffee Company
In 2012 Thanksgiving Coffee Company, in collaboration with the Mirembe Kawomera Board and members, began a Climate change mitigation initiative in the foothills of Mt. Elgon, with the cooperative. The first phase was tree planting, and the project had these basic principles at its core:
The trees would provide shade to keep the ground cool and moist
The trees would enhance the habitat for indigenous birds and other wildlife
Deep root systems of trees holds the moisture in the soil and brings nutrients from deep in the ground to the surface via leaf litter produced by the trees. This makes the soil more fertile.
The trees soften the impact of rainstorms and mitigate against runoff that carries away topsoil
Shade improves the health of coffee trees as well as the flavor profile.
Trees produce wood for cooking and reduce the need for long distance hauling of wood
Trees bring up the water table and enable the ground to hold more water
JB Birenge, Climate Change Mitigation project manager in 2012 (photo credit: Ben Corey Moran)
There remained a problem.
The coop members were relying on the climate change mitigation tree planting as a source of firewood for their open fire cooking. Open fires are a simple but extremely wasteful way to build a cook fire, so the coop members decided that if they had more efficient ways to cook, they would lower their use of firewood. This plan was the best way to allow the trees to grow to maturity before being sustainably pruned for firewood, and thus was born “The Clean Cookstove Project.”
Rock fire rings are traditionally used to cook food
In partnership with Carrotmob, Thanksgiving Coffee Company raised $4,600 in a crowd-funding campaign. The funds were allocated for the Clean Cookstove project. The General Manager of the cooperative designed the project, researched the methodology, hired local craftsmen and women, gathered materials, and began building the stoves in April of this year. In this first phase of the project, 46 families will receive the stoves. Families with children, older people and single parent families were chosen by the coop as are recipients of the first 46 stoves. The plan is to expand the program so all 300 coop member families eventually have one built for them in their homes.
The benefits of clean cookstoves are many.
Obviously, better respiratory health and easier fuel collecting because these stoves use 1/10 the fuel to produce a cooked meal. That means more time to attend school, make music, do homework or whatever leisure time is used for in a small village at the base of a mountain, where there is no cafe to hang out, no community center, and where electricity is limited to a few outlets per square mile. We are proud to be associated with this project – happier, healthy coffee farmers means a better world, and better coffee.
Aisa Kainza with her Clean Cookstove
I am currently in Uganda, on a trip that was planned back in February when I was last in Africa.
Much has happened since, including a clear Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines our and the Cooperatives responsibilities and expectations from the relationship we have created. The goal of this trip is mostly oversight. We are advancing funds to the Cooperative to double its washing station capacity. This will require a solar drying system of greatly increased capacity, and a financial system that is going to handle twice the amount of money, double the volume of coffee, and provide more transparency. We are building capacity and the requirement for a higher level of professional financial management will be required as soon as this next crop is ready in September. That is in about 60 days!
There is lots to do – and we want to be a part of the doing.
In February of 2013, Thanksgiving Coffee staff visited the farm of Alexa Marín Colindres, a member of the PRODECOOP Cooperative in Nicaragua. We toured her farm, listened to her heartbreaking story, and wondered how we could help. Later that day, we did a blind cupping of 20 of the cooperative’s coffees, and asked that her coffee be included.
We sipped and slurped for two hours to get through them all, scoring each coffee on Fragrance, Aroma, Body, Acidity, Flavor Notes and Balance. One coffee was, hands down, the best on the table – and it turned out to be Alexa’s. We bought 10 sacks (all that was available), and are proud to offer you this special coffee, and invite you to help.
Meet Alexa. She lives with her two teenage sons in the mountains of Northern Nicaragua, where they focus on growing the best coffee possible. She has been a coffee farmer for many years and has worked with the cooperative PRODECOOP since 1992.
In 2013, Alexa noticed that the leaves on her coffee trees were affected by La Roya, a fungal disease which attacks the leaves and prevents them from converting sunlight into energy. The coffee cherries turn brown and fall off before ripening, and the tree eventually dies.
La Roya is thought by many in the coffee industry to be one of the many challenges brought on by Climate Change. This disease is sweeping across coffee country, devastating the coffee trees of many small, family farmers – and threatening their way of life.
For some, this will mean starting over – even on a new piece of unaffected land. For others, it may mean removing or pruning affected trees and replanting where necessary.
Want to Help? Support Project: La Roya
Alexa’s coffee is fabulous and we want her coffee farm to thrive –so we decided to rally our customers to support her and other farmers battling La Roya. In March 2014, we launched Project: La Roya with our partners at The Social Business Network (SBN) in Nicaragua.
The project will raise $10,000 to help the farmers of PRODECOOP stop the spread of this disease and re-plant 5,000 coffee trees that have been affected. $2 from every bag of Finca de Alexacoffee sold will be invested in Project: La Roya.
“Rust” is a word with an ominous sound. It ruins older cars, renders tools useless, and is a major reason for the use of paint to preserve everything made from iron. In Central America there are two kinds of rust. The kind that corrodes iron and the kind that kills coffee trees. The latter rust, called “La Roya” is a Fungus that is pernicious. It lives on the leaves, sucking the life out of them. They fall off and do not return. Coffee cherries never ripen, and the tree eventually dies. This is not a good thing for a coffee farmer whose survival depends on coffee.
La Roya is worse than a 60 cent per pound market price, which is a monumental crisis, but there is always another season, and hope for higher prices for the farmer. La Roya is no crop, then three to five years of rehabilitation of the coffee farm. In other words, it is the end of family life on the farm. It is the end of a way of life, of culture, of living on the land. It means hunger, it means migration to the cities, it means over crowding and the deterioration of family life as country people are forced to work in urban factories making clothing for two dollars a day.
La Roya is here and unless a major battle is waged to beat it back, Central American coffee will be a thing of the past, and coffee prices will rise as the supply of quality coffee is diminished. This is not Chicken Little talking here. This is absolutely a disaster about to happen – this year.
This February, I was in the Nuevo Segovia Region of Nicaragua on a coffee buying trip. I visited the farm of a member of the PRODECOOP Cooperative. Alexa and her two teenage sons live two kilometers from the Honduras boarder. Many of their coffee trees are affected by La Roya, and are starting to lose their leaves. They got a crop this year, but next year they expect to get 50% less. I have no idea how they will be able to continue making a living. They produced 10 sacks (1500 lbs) this year, for which we paid $ 2.75 per pound. That was double the world price and the highest we could afford to pay.
Alexa’s coffee is fabulous and we want her coffee farm to thrive. We want her to be able to refresh her trees and beat the Rust. Next year, she will need to get $ 5.50/lb. to survive on her farm. Will you support our effort by paying $2.75 more per pound for her coffee next year? Would you pay more than $15.00 for a bag of her coffee?
Well, first you have to taste it. We will present her coffee to our public in July when it arrives. It is going to cost her about $8,000 to rehabilitate her farm. We are going to try to raise that money between now and December.
That’s the way Direct Trade works – we are all in this coffee thing together.
I remember the first full day of our initial trip to Uganda in October 2006 to produce a documentary about Mirembe Kawomera (“Delicious Peace”) Coffee Co-op. After three days of travel (one from NY to Europe, the second from there to Entebbe Airport, and the third by car up to the Mbale region), we enthusiastically showed up at the entrance of the coffee co-op’s clay-constructed storefront. We were eager to meet the legendary farmers who had formed a collective to bridge interfaith differences and generate economic development through a Fair Trade partnership with California-based buyer, roaster and seller Thanksgiving Coffee Company. Since we had been in touch via email for several months and the executive board had invited us to come, we were ready to break out the cameras following the handshakes and dive into work. Instead, the farmers asked that we sit down for a four-hour meeting that began with the question: “Why should we let you do this?”
At that moment, Curt looked at me and said, “You are the attorney. You can negotiate this. I’m going outside to take pictures. They may be the last ones we get!”
Now here it is, six and a half years after that meeting and three years after the premiere screening of Delicious Peace Grows in a Ugandan Coffee Bean, and we are returning for our fifth trip, this time (as the last) with a group of friends in tow. Dual goals motivate this journey: (1) adding an extra 15-20 minutes of footage for a one-hour TV release focused on co-op updates and the impact of climate change on the farmers’ crops, and (2) introducing more American consumers to the work of the Mirembe Kawomera co-op, helping to spread awareness about their truly delicious coffee and the myriad families whose lives orbit around it.
In many respects, the first aim parallels corporate video production shoots we do around the world for many clients. We have done our homework and know what we want to record, all the necessary equipment is packed and ready to go, a basic schedule is in place, and we have the contact information for folks who will be crucial data-providers.
This assignment, however, comes with advance bonuses. We already have established friendships with farmers in the co-op, who are excited to help with the new phase of the project by devoting days of time when we are present to providing assistance; they understand and appreciate our role in helping to publicize their messages. And – New Yorkers — you know that excited feeling of being with out-of-towners who arrive in New York for the first time and stand in transcendental wonderment upon their initial ascent out of the subway? We will have the opportunity to experience that feeling through the eyes of our trip participants, multiple-fold, beginning with the moment our friend/tourguide Samson drives our group out of the airport onto the streets of Entebbe.
In response to the farmers’ initial question in 2006, I promised a long-term, mutual partnership in which success would be shared. I promised we would produce, complete, and screen the documentary. I said this would be an important avenue to spread the message of the work they are doing to bridge interfaith differences and educate coffee consumers about the hard work of farmers dedicated to specialty coffee production so that purchasing decisions reflect that knowledge. I told them that a successful documentary will trigger interest in their coffee. I told them that we have always established long-term friendships with the people who are the subjects of documentaries we undertake – as we have often done with our corporate video production clients.
Almost seven years later, the documentary has screened (and continues to do so) at over 35 international film festivals with a TV debut in the near future. We have partnered with a distributor committed to creating local educational “Peace Party” screenings around the country. Countless people have watched the program and learned about the important work of the farmers – many are busy talking about it on social media avenues everyday. And we are going back again to visit our friends and continue to develop the informational base.
We’re grateful the farmers took a leap of faith with us and proud to have earned their trust. T-5 days until we are off to Uganda!
Purchase coffees from the Mirembe Kawomera Cooperative and support their livelihoods:
Last month, we partnered with Carrotmob to raise support for a new sustainability project: shipping coffee on sailing ships from Nicaragua and Peru into Fort Bragg’s Noyo Harbor.
Shipping coffee – to be continued…
We had an ambitious goal: sell $150,000 worth of coffee in just 20 days. While we didn’t make it to our goal, we have been overwhelmed with your support for shipping coffee by wind.With your support, we raised over $31,000 through our partnership with Carrotmob – about 20% of our goal. Even though this first attempt didn’t produce enough funding to further our feasibility study to sail coffee – we’re committed to moving forward with the idea.
With Noyo Harbor right in our backyard, shipping coffee and other goods is a tremendous economic opportunity for our community in Fort Bragg, California that we’d like to explore further.This was our first attempt to break the ice around this idea, and in the months ahead, we’ll be determining the next steps to further this project.
What about the money raised?
Thanksgiving’s Ben Corey-Moran meets with Peace Kawomera’s Board of Directors. Photo: jemglo.org, 2008
Per our agreement with Carrotmob, we’ll be sending 15% of the funds raised in the buycott (about $4,095) to our associated non-profit organization, The Resilience Fund, which will use the money for a project in Mbale, Uganda.
That’s where the Peace Kawomera Cooperative is, which has been a partner of Thanksgiving Coffee since 2004. It’s a co-op of Jewish, Christian and Muslim coffee farmers who came together to build peace through economic development.
You might recognize the name from our online store, where we offer as light roast, dark roast and decaf coffees from this cooperative.
In the Peace Kawomera coop, coffee farmers and their families cook with wood, in stoves or over open fires, often inside their living areas. Due to the lack of clean, efficient wood stoves, this puts strain on local forest resources and often results in poor indoor air quality.
Nathan Watandena, showing land that was once densely forested. Photo: Ben Corey-Moran, 2008.
The cooperative has an existing climate change adaption project funded by a Dutch NGO, Progreso, that is addressing this challenge by bringing farmers together to plant trees and re-forest the area.
This effort is improving the sustainability of their coffee crops and ensuring the availability of resources vital to the community. We’re committed to supporting this important work – and the Carrotmob funds will be put to work immediately for a new project that builds on this work.
With the approximately $4,600 raised in the Carrotmob buycott, The Resilience Fund will purchase clean, efficient cookstoves for about 70 families that are a part of the cooperative. This will reduce their dependency on local forest resources and improve indoor air quality. The Resilience Fund will continue to raise funds to support this project.
While we didn’t meet our goal of $150k, our experience partnering with Carrotmob, its supporters and our customers has been exciting. The Carrotmob has huge potential to create lasting change, and in fact, already has. Thank you so much for your support!