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Seeds is an acronym that stands for Sustaining Environmental and Educational Development at Source. Our Seeds program was created to structure and define Counter Culture's monetary contributions to projects that are not coffee-quality-specific but still benefit our coffee-producing partners and their communities. To date, we have contributed a total of $24,963 to projects in 6 countries. We'd like to catch you up on the projects we have funded over the last couple of years through our Seeds program with an eye toward more regular updates of ongoing projects.
Our Sixth Project: Food Security and Cooperative Members
Fabretto Children's Foundation & Cinco de Junio Cooperative
Madriz, Nicaragua
A family in Madriz, Nicaragua, participating in Fabretto Children's Foundation Food Security and Nutrition program.
We learned about the Fabretto Children's Foundation – a non-governmental organization that works closely with farmers and specifically with members of the Cinco de Junio Cooperative – when Coffee Buyer and Sustainability Manager Kim Elena Ionescu began visiting the region in 2009. Fabretto is a registered nonprofit organization that works to provide quality education, health and nutrition, and community development programs for more than 11,000 students in Nicaragua. Their choice to work in coffee growing communities stems from their desire to support the work of improving children's education and to diversify economic activities in order to break the cycles of chronic poverty.
Fabretto sought out our collaboration in the spring of 2012 in order to support their Food Security and Nutrition program. This program creates opportunities for student groups and small farmers to produce fresh fruits and vegetables that can be incorporated into Fabretto's school lunch program. The students and farmers also learn skills to sell part of their production to generate cash income.
In an effort to improve conditions of food security in the rural communities of Las Sabanas and San José de Cusmapa, Fabretto has begun to organize groups of small growers, many of whom are also coffee growers, who diversify their farms to grow crops such as tomatoes, onions, peppers, potatoes, carrots, bananas, and other indigenous fruits and vegetables.
So far, the Seeds funds have helped provide students and farmers with practical skills in rural development and sustainable agriculture. Fabretto has injected needed resources into the productive projects that the students have been identifying and developing, particularly fruit and vegetable production.
One of the project beneficiaries is Amparo Gutierrez. She and her family have been growing tomatoes and peppers on their family's plot and have been active participants in the training sessions:
"This project has been very positive for our family. We have started growing new crops on our small farm, and we are learning new ways to improve our production. This has helped us to generate more income for our family, and we can better provide for our children."
The field staff reports that the training element has gone well, particularly with students – though working with adults requires a different methodological approach. The small farmers being trained have used traditional production techniques their whole lives, and changing to new, more sustainable practices is always a challenge. We hope to harness their lessons learned as we continue to partner with others in the coffee industry on food security initiatives.
'Til next week,
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