Groundwork from the ground up: Origins Stories
Author | groundwork coffee Date | August 27, 2019
Groundwork is more than great coffee: we work diligently behind the scenes to help support farms transition to organic coffee operations. Many of our customers likely don’t know that we’re fueled by deeper desires than brewing a cup of coffee. But where does one even begin to start a farm’s transition to organic?
Being a farmer at all isn’t an easy life. Issues like Rust Disease, other crop diseases, drought, etc., are all ever-present issues farmers must concern themselves with. Then, if they are willing to entertain organic farming, they have to decide how and if they’ll be able to maintain organic certification if they choose a given avenue to address the issue at hand. This is a somewhat stripped back perspective of the situation, but it is a real one that many certified organic farmers must face. It’s our goal, in light of this, to create a space for these men and women to get support, information, advice, even financial help.
Financially, the change can be quite difficult. It was in that context we teamed up with the women’s coffee cooperative, AMUCC. This conversation Jeff Chean, Chief Coffee Guy at Groundwork Coffee, had with Forbes magazine about supporting organic farmers encapsulates the dynamic perfectly:
AMUCC is designed to fill [the] vacuum and bring about positive social change in the community through coffee. Groundwork funds interest-free revolving credit lines to assist certified organic farmers to meet short-term cash flow needs and upgrade farm equipment. Given that AMUCC is a Fair Trade organization, farmers receive a premium price. But Groundwork goes beyond that to pay an additional premium on that as well to encourage more organic farming in the region.”
There is a lot of paperwork, fees, an annual audit, and, perhaps most of all, restrictions on what fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides can be used. Sometimes the farmer can get the premium price they deserve and sometimes they can’t. As a result, there are fewer and fewer certified organic coffee farmers each year. This is happening in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia . . . the list goes on.
So, what’s an organic coffee roaster to do? Find ways to help those farmers who have kept their certifications and find incentives to encourage other farmers to transition to organic certification. Stay tuned as we dig deeper into the inner workings of our partnerships with the growers of our coffee beans.
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