Early one morning in 1992, a local Mendocino sculptor by the name of Howard Wheatley Allen was shaking in his boots. He had just been informed that he would be presenting a gift to a world leader on behalf of the United States, and the recipient was none other than Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. With a steadying hand, he held his bronze sculpture before the President and said, “Mr. President, this is a snow goose that migrates between our two countries.”
“You mean a living link,” Gorbachev replied, understanding the significance.
Gorbachev later recalled that, “During the nuclear arms race, I was given a gift by an American, a little figure of a goose in flight. I still have it at my dacha. It is a goose that lives in the north of Russia in the summer and in the winter migrates to America. It does that every year regardless of what’s happening, on the ground, between you and us.”
It was one year later, in 1993, that International Migratory Bird Day was established. While IMBD is celebrated from Canada to South America to support the hundreds of Neotropical migratory bird species that travel across the continent, Gorbachev’s goose is a beautiful reminder that birds will always rise above our imaginary borders, transcending beyond the cultural or political boundaries of the time.
Here in the United States, we sometimes claim a cultural ownership of beautiful birds like the Baltimore Oriole, perhaps forgetting that the very same species could just as easily be named the ‘Panama Oriole’, or the ‘Nicaraguan Oriole’, as it spends half it’s life in Central and South America. IMBD is a reminder that the health and abundance of these birds that are so much a part of our heritage does not stop at our own backyard feeders. If we wish to enjoy their beauty and their songs for generations to come, we must care for them and their well being across all borders.
The growing demand for coffee, and the rise of the mono-cultured full sun coffee plantations, has demolished much of the wintering habitat for iconic birds like Orioles. In fact, many of these species are now referred to as ‘Coffee Birds’ because the only forest home left to them are the shade-grown coffee farms that preserve the jungle canopy.
For over 20 year, Song Bird Coffee has been a leader in supporting the farmers who protect their native forests by growing delicious coffees under the jungle canopy, preserving priceless habitat and biodiversity. This year, on International Migratory Bird Day, we hope you will join us in protecting our precious songbirds, just by enjoying a great cup of shade-grown coffee. Not Just a Cup, But a Just Cup.
For the Birds is a blog series from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. In January, we featured the Cedar Waxwing, in February, the Magnolia Warbler, this month we’re focusing on the Blackburnian Warbler – the bird featured on our dark roast Songbird coffee.
Songbird Coffee Dark Roast from Colombia
With their bright colors and trilling songs, it’s no surprise that a group or flock of vibrant warblers is often called a ‘bouquet’. However, one of the most striking members of the warbler family would rather not join the bunch.
Common along the eastern region of the United States during their migration, the Blackburnian warbler can be easily identified as the only orange-throated warbler in North America. Named after botanist Anna Blackburn, the Blackburnian warbler is territorial on its breeding grounds, solitary in the winter, and only forms flocks during migration. In fact, this little bird is such a loner that even though both parents feed and care for the chicks, the parents separate when the young are old enough to fledge and leave the nest, each taking part of the brood with them.
But even the most solitary parent needs the support of a group every once in a while. After going their separate ways, the parents will sometimes join foraging flocks of kinglets and nuthatches with their begging young, the cries of which have been known to also attract chickadees.
Of the over 50 species of New World warblers to be found in North America, perhaps it is the colorful Blackburnian that stands out as a lone bloom, refusing to join the colorful assemblage of other warblers.
Help protect the winter habitat of Blackburnian warblers by buying SMBC Song Bird Colombian dark roast shade-grown coffee.
Dark Roast Colombian Coffee
Toasted • Spicy • Dark Chocolate
A rich coffee with flavors of toasted nut and dark chocolate followed by a smooth lasting finish, making this a clear winner for dark roast coffee enthusiasts.
For the Birds is a blog series from Thanksgiving Coffee Company, highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. In January, we featured the Cedar Waxwing; this month we’re focusing on the Magnolia Warbler – the bird featured on our medium roast Songbird coffee.
Songbird Coffee medium roast from Nicaragua
If you live east of the Mississippi river, you might be familiar with the Magnolia Warbler. This brightly-colored little songbird can be seen in the spring and fall as it passes through on its annual migration. Despite the name, these bird is rarely seen in magnolia trees. In 1810, ornithologist Alexander Wilson collected a specimen from a magnolia in Mississippi. At the time, he gave it the species the more accurate name of “Black-and-yellow Warbler”, but he used “magnolia” for the Latin name, and it stuck.
Like many warbler species, it can be hard to imagine how such a tiny bird, weighing little more than a quarter, can make a 3,000 mile journey, but they do it every year; from their summer breeding range in the Canadian Boral forests all the way down to Central America.
When the “Maggies” head south for the winter, they can often be found on shade grown coffee farms along with other migratory birds such as Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Western Tanager.
Although the population of Magnolia Warblers is thought to be stable, the birds are often victims of collisions with towers and other man-made structures, especially during migration. Habitat loss on their nesting and wintering grounds is also a threat. Supporting Bird Friendly coffee is an important way to keep Magnolia Warblers and other “coffee birds” common.
Medium Roast Nicaraguan Coffee
Nutty • Smooth • Milk Chocolate
Sweet without sugar, mellow without cream. This Smithsonian Bird Friendly Coffee is fruity, nutty and chocolaty with hints of dried mango. Sweet without sugar, mellow without cream, it is a great breakfast coffee. This coffee is roasted to a light milk chocolate color where its bright and complex flavors explode into life.
How are migratory birds and shade grown coffee trees linked?
The coffee industry has an enormous impact on migratory birds: when they fly south in the cold months, these birds rely on the trees that shade coffee farms throughout the tropics. When coffee plantations clear cut land to grow coffee in direct sunlight, not only does the loss of forested lands contribute to climate change, but our precious migratory birds lose their winter homes.
If we want to continue enjoying these birds, we have to preserve their winter habitat – and choosing to purchase only shade grown coffee is an integral part of that habitat preservation. Our SongBird Coffee is Organic and Fairtrade, and certified Bird-Friendly by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center.
“In this picture of shade grown coffee we see the lower level, dark green coffee trees. On the second level there are banana trees and on the overstay third level, native trees. From the mottled bark I can see that the tree is Inga, a tree with nitrogen setting qualities in the root system. It shades the coffee trees from above while providing leaf litter to refresh the thin topsoil layer, while at the same time adding Nitrogen to the soil with its roots.
This was taken on a trip to Jinotega, Nicaragua. Altitude is 5,000 feet ” – Paul Katzeff
January 5 is National Bird Day and to celebrate we are going to kick off a new monthly blog post – For the Birds – highlighting one of the 200 Neotropical migratory birds who rely on shade grown coffee during their winter migration. We will start off by getting to know the birds representing our Songbird Coffee lineup:
Songbird Coffee light roast from Guatemala
The Cedar Waxwing is the perfect representative for our light roast Guatemalan coffee because the ripe cherry sweetness of the coffee reflects the fruity diet of these strikingly beautiful backyard favorites. As social birds, you can usually see them in large flocks around fruit trees such as juniper, cedar, and mulberry, passing berries from one bird to another before swallowing them whole. In fact, the Cedar Waxwing is the only bird in North American whose diet is comprised primarily of fruits and berries.
Unfortunately for the birds, their fruit based diet means that eating overripe or fermented berries can leave them visibly tipsy. For those Waxwings who have had ‘a few too many’, some rescue groups have made ‘holding tanks’ to keep them safe while they sober up before flying home.
All of Thanksgiving’s organically certified coffees are shade grown, and a select few carry the Bird Friendly gold seal of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. This certification ensures that tropical “agroforests” are preserved and migratory birds can find a healthy haven to eat and rest as they travel the hundreds of miles from your backyard to the coffee farms producing the beans you so enjoy every morning.
You don’t need binoculars to find a coffee that protects forests, helps wildlife and supports the efforts of the American Birding Association; just look for the Songbird Coffee with the Cedar Waxwing on the front.
There’s a myriad of traditions surrounding December 25 – exchanging gifts, singing carols, attending midnight mass and so many more. One of these traditions, and one especially close to our hearts, is the Christmas Bird Count.
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”
Deep and immaculately sweet, with notes of ripe cherry and golden raisin.
Ethiopia is known as the birthplace of Arabica coffee. Centuries of production and perfecting methods of preparation have produced brilliant results. This fine Ethiopia Yirgacheffe coffee is sourced from family-owned farms organized around the Worka Cooperative located in the southern district of Gedeb, Ethiopia. The Worka zone encompasses the highest altitude coffee cultivation area in the entire country of Ethiopia, resulting in a stunningly unique flavor profile.
The Worka Cooperative was established in 2005 and currently has approximately 300 members. In 2005, the cooperative joined the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (YCFCU) to support a sustainable coffee supply from cooperatives in the Gedeo ethnic region of Ethiopia.
Heavy, earthy body, with layers of cedar and butterscotch.
Small family farms blanket the mountains of Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island. Under the dense tropical forests of the island’s northern Gayo Mountains, the 1,329 members of Koperasi Permata Gayo produce one of Indonesia’s finest and most sought after coffees.
The cooperative formed in 2005, following a peace accord that ended a decade-long civil war and a devastating earthquake that heavily damaged the farmers’ homes and warehouses. Growing in membership year by year, Koperasi Permata Gayo represents the farmers’ hope for a peaceful future, prosperity, and careful stewardship of the natural environment.
Like all the finest Indonesian coffees, Permata Gayo is produced using the distinct wet-hulled process that yields a pungent earthy flavor enlivened by sweet notes of butterscotch, cinnamon, and clove.
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.