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Our Coffee Department visits a lot of growing regions each year, and they keep up with cooperatives and individual farmers throughout the year between visits through a variety of digital communications – from email to video conferencing. It's always great to hear updates along the way to feel connected to the producers of the coffees we love.
 
Coffee Buyer's Agent Hannah Popish got an email this week from Jorge Recinos. Jorge and his twin brother Javier run their family's Finca Nueva Armenia in Huehuetenango, Guatemala – from which we've been buying coffee for 10 years and are always happy to welcome back! The photos Jorge sent can be seen in the flickr set included here. And, here's Hannah's translated summary:
 
They started picking on December 14 and feel confident the quality this year will be even higher. We will likely get three containers from them, including Grotto or Gemelos microlots and 2-3 bags of Maragojipe. Leaf rust has definitely hit Guatemala, but, with the help of a lot of hard workers, they feel confident they have it controlled at FNA with organic pesticides. And, they continue to hope for more rain! And, Happy New Year from Finca Nueva Armenia!
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
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 Eighth Project: Justa Clean Cook Stoves
COMSA Cooperative
Marcala, Honduras
 
The COMSA cook stoke project in action.
This Seeds project was unique in that Counter Culture initiated it as a way to address our carbon offsets. In 2009 we set the goal to reach carbon neutrality in 5 years. This project allowed us to reach neutrality in just 2 years!
 
The high level of involvement and organization from both the partner non-governmental organization (NGO) and the cooperative on the ground made this an ideal project. Preliminary meetings were held with the cooperative leadership, a local development NGO, and US-based Trees, Water & People to develop the most effective plan. In two short weeks, 86 stoves were built by local specialists and cooperative members. Over the lifespan of these stoves, 645 tons of carbon dioxide will be avoided. In total, 626 family members of COMSA producers will benefit from cleaner indoor air and more disposable income, and they will use less than half of the wood required by their previous cook stoves.
 
We won't know the long-term results until health impact measures are taken over time. However, the initial reports sent to us from COMSA and Trees, Water & People were thorough, and we feel confident that they will continue to pursue greater metrics and inform us when they have additional details.
 
Today marks the last update on Seeds projects of years past. Thanks for following along for these installments. At the end of January, we will begin accepting applications for our next funding cycle of Seeds projects. As new projects are completed, we will continue to report back on impact at origin and lessons learned. Please don't hesitate to be in touch with comments, questions, or suggestions!
 
And, this project was featured on our website, which also links to a Trees, Water & People slide show of the project.
 
Sincerely,
Hannah
 
POSTED IN: Seeds
Traditional coffee with Tena adam (rue) from Tim's stop in Coche in Ethiopia.
Coffee Buyer & Quality Manager Tim Hill, visited Ethiopia at the end of November and recently posted two sets of photos from his trip. The first part of the trip, Tim spent several days with coffee researchers in and around Jimma, followed by a trip to southern Ethiopia where he spent time at cooperatives under the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union – the group that includes the producers of Haru, Idido, and Beloya.
 
Read Tim's trip report from the research-focused portion of his visit to Ethiopia on Flickr. And, from his visit with some of our producer partners in southern Ethiopia, Tim posted a second Flickr set that includes a fairly comprehensive account of the work that's being done to improve coffees we get from Ethiopia and a detailed list of lots in progress. Enjoy!
 
Thanks,
Nathan
 
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 Seventh Project: Holiday Blend 2011
Kayanza, Burundi
 
The Buziraguhindwa school currently serves approximately 2,000 students.
Some of our Seeds projects are funded by a special coffee created each year at the holidays from which a dollar of each pound sold goes toward a project on the ground at origin. As such, it seems serendipitous that this week's Seeds update finds us reporting on projects funded by last year's holiday blend. Last year, funds collected from sales of our holiday blend focused on supporting educational initiatives and allowed us to donate to the expansion of a school near the Buziraguhindwa washing station. The Buziraguhindwa school currently serves approximately 2,000 students. Tim Hill, our coffee buyer who focuses on Burundi, has been invited to a ceremony in the year ahead to inaugurate the new school structure. A portion of the funds also went to the construction of a school near the Idido washing station.
 
The donation from our 2012 Holiday Blend will again be dedicated to an educational initiative and will be aimed at supporting the Yirgacheffe Coffee Farmer's Cooperative Union, the cooperative from which the coffee in this blend is derived. Our hope is to fund a two-day workshop on organic agriculture and composting for between 50 and 100 coffee growers, agronomists, and cooperative representatives. Thank you in advance for the support of this coffee and, come late spring, we will be reporting back on the next installment of holiday blend origin projects.
 
Happiest of holidays to you and yours!
 
'Til next week,
Hannah
 
POSTED IN: Seeds
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,
Hannah
 
POSTED IN: Seeds
 
 
Les animamos pensar en como va a dar el informe y evaluar su proyecto al mismo tiempo que lo diseña. Haz click aquí para un ejemplo de como podría informarnos de su proyecto después de que esta cumplido. Tocando algunos de las temas claves es más importante que el formato que escoge.
 
POSTED IN: Seeds
 
 
We encourage you to think about how you will report on and evaluate your project at the same time that you design the project. Click here for an example of how you could report on your project after its completion. Covering some of the key topics you'll see there is more important than the actual format you choose.
 
POSTED IN: Seeds
SERBC in ATL!
We're proud of all of the competitors at this year's Southeast Regional Barista Competition (SERBC) for elevating the craft of coffee. We're honored to have so many talented folks representing our coffees, as well. And, we are especially thrilled that Lem Butler won the SERBC Barista Competition and Jonathan Bonchak won the Brewers Cup.
 
Lem and Jonathan will advance to US Barista Championship and Brewers Cup in Boston in April 2013. Congratulations and thanks for all of your hard work!
 
Sincerely,
Nathan
 
POSTED IN: regional events

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