There were a lot of ups and downs this past year, as coffee price fluctuations and the Roya (fungal rust) epidemic hit our partners hard, especially throughout the Americas. Fortunately, our cooperatives are strong and dedicated to their communities, so our work together was able to continue and, in most cases, flourish. Read on…
Highlights in the Coffeelands
We Ask Permission
In 2014 we started the coffee industry’s first comprehensive program to get permission (and give compensation) for the use of farmer photos and videos. Why should companies use these images without permission? Hopefully, others will follow our lead.
This year, in partnership with Grounds for Health, we embarked on an innovative, community-based cervical cancer detection and treatment program with our partner, Sidama Cooperative. Cervical cancer is the largest cancer killer of women in the Global South, yet there is little in the way of affordable, accessible treatment. This pioneering program will begin in Sidama and hopefully expand throughout the country.
We have worked diligently with our long-time partner, PRODECOOP, on supporting their amazing cervical cancer detection and treatment program and also helped to design and fund a community-based approach to education, prevention and treatment for Roya, which has hit Nicaraguan farmers hard in the last year. Our interns worked hand in hand with women’s groups to monitor and evaluate the programs we support there.
We started a new computer education project in our partner village, Atsabe, at the request of a delegation of high school students who petitioned us at our annual farmer meeting. We have obtained ten laptops and instruction to begin this project in that very remote region.
We deepened our relationship with Oro Verde Cooperative in Peru in multiple ways this year. First, we sent our first-ever “socialXchange” for a weeklong exchange between U.S. organic farmers and coop members. We also sold Oro Verde our used 70 Kilo coffee roaster. The Coop is hoping to expand their roasted coffee business, and we’ve been glad to help. We are having a heck of a time getting it to work so far! Also in Peru, interns at Pangoa Cooperative were very active, starting a recycling and reforestation program, teaching English and hosting bi-monthly environmentally focused movie nights. We continue to support the coop’s popular Women’s Loan Fund that we created five years ago.
Our relationship with the Proisch-ARIC growers association continues. We have recently completed the second phase of a project to promote and deepen the association’s Organic program, and we are in the midst of a third phase. The growers are holding workshops in the elaboration of a low-cost, high-potency Organic compost called ‘Bocashi’. They will train local ‘promoters’ how to make the compost who will then travel out into the farmer communities to pass the knowledge on. This project also deals with the important issue of Roya (Rust) prevention, tackling a debilitating fungus that is heavily impacting crops in Chiapas and beyond.
Our CHICA program in Guatemala is currently on hold. Due to organizational difficulties in-country, the women’s health promotion workshops are not being held. This has been a learning experience for the trainers as well as for us. We are working hard to get the program back on track this year. We are also funding alternative crops for coffee farming families as the Roya problem is having a great impact on Guatemalan coffee regions.
And here at home
Our comprehensive environmental management system includes energy conservation, the use of renewable energy, solar panels, environmentally sound waste management, recycling and composting. We launched the first home-compostable coffee packaging in the USA! We also launched a new product – our recyclable ‘ReCups’, compatible in many single-serve brewing systems. The vast majority of single-serve cups are not recyclable and billions have now entered landfills. We feel that our ReCups are a more environmentally sustainable alternative.
This year we have been a leader in several important public initiatives in Massachusetts. We took the lead as a business in support of mandatory labeling of GMO’s, testifying at the State House and lobbying many state legislators and the Governor on this important issue. We also were in the forefront of Earned Paid Sick Leave and raising the Minimum Wage in the state. Although mandatory GMO labeling failed to make it out of legislative committee this year, we will continue to push for this important legislation. Both Earned Paid Sick Leave and higher Minimum Wages passed and were signed into law.
We had a lot of fun this year in film, TV and on stage. We won Best Supporting Java for fueling Hunger Games, Vampire Diaries and other films and shows. Our World Music Series at the Iron Horse in Northampton brought in Habib Koife, Refugee All-Stars, Tinariwen, Bombino, Aliya Cycon Project and more!
As always, our work is only made possible by your continued support. Thanks for buying and brewing our coffees over the past year. It has helped make a real difference in people’s lives in the coffeelands and at home.
-Dean & the Beanery Crew
A Glimpse into the Coffee Lands
Dean and Timor-Leste President (and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) Jose Ramos Horta talking social change, youth violence prevention and how to look good while aging.