AgroEco® Coffee has a New Look!

AgroEco® Coffee bags have a new look this Fall! It’s the same delicious coffee with a fresh, new look! The red label is for coffee from Nicaragua; the blue label is for coffee from Mexico.

Along with the new labels, we have a new poster that shows how your purchase of AgroEco® Coffee supports CAN’s work with coffee farmer cooperatives to promote environmental justice, gender justice, and economic justice. Invest in justice: Drink AgroEco® Coffee!

Permaculture being taught to Timorese coffee farmers and in national education … – ABC Local


ABC Local

Permaculture being taught to Timorese coffee farmers and in national education
ABC Local
The coffee country of Timor Leste is a world away from the birthplace of permaculture in northern Tasmania but it's taking off there in a big way. The Timor-based NGO Permatil is working with the Timorese Government to train coffee bean farmers in …

Nespresso Supporting Coffee Growers in Guatemala and Ethiopia – Justmeans (blog)

Nespresso Supporting Coffee Growers in Guatemala and Ethiopia
Justmeans (blog)
This agroforestry initiative is part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program in coffee producing countries and is meant to improve soil fertility and productivity of coffee farms by providing shade for coffee trees and prevent landslides on

The Best Coffee—and Wildlife Habitat—Is Made in the Shade – TakePart


TakePart

The Best Coffee—and Wildlife Habitat—Is Made in the Shade
TakePart
… America and East Africa. But this is the first major study on bats and coffee in Asia, and a good example of how principles of agroforestry, or mixing agriculture and natural habitats, can help preserve wildlife and function as a refuge in a

Good Reads | Can We Level the Playing Field for Coffee Growers?

Check out Lucas Oliver Oswald’s article (August 12, 2015) in Grist: “Can we level the playing field for coffee growers?”  Oswald does an analysis about the changing coffee industry and the rise of direct trade. CAN affiliated researcher Dr. Christopher Bacon (Santa Clara University) was interviewed for the article and raised caution about direct trade. Read the article here.

Read about CAN’s alternative trade model — AgroEco® Coffee — operating under principles of participation and transparency. We build relationships to ensure that what’s behind the cup of coffee is quality of life and quality of bean.

Food insecurity in Nicaragua: farming on the edge of a volcano – The Guardian


The Guardian

Food insecurity in Nicaragua: farming on the edge of a volcano
The Guardian
An agroforestry system is being developed as coffee and cocoa plants need shade. Avocado, mango and orange trees will provide this as well as producing fruit that can be sold for income. Access to markets can be a problem so road-side stalls will be

Napocor awards deal to rehab Camarines Sur watershed – BusinessWorld Online Edition

Napocor awards deal to rehab Camarines Sur watershed
BusinessWorld Online Edition
At the same time, the company will undertake the rehabilitation of 1,315 hectares of watershed areas this year through reforestation, agroforestry, and planting of minor forest products like coffee, abaca and rattan. Earlier this year, Napocor secured
Napocor awards P2.6M deal for Buhi-Barit Watershed rehabilitation The Manila Times



all 2 news articles »

Sustainability Offers Opportunities. Procurement Should Grab Them – Procurement Leaders (blog)


Procurement Leaders (blog)

Sustainability Offers Opportunities. Procurement Should Grab Them
Procurement Leaders (blog)
Sustainability efforts worldwide received a jolt recently from major players in the coffee industry. Nespresso, the coffee-making unit of Nestle, reported on progress in its Positive Cup sustainability programme, including investments to rebuild the

and more »

Nespresso is improving the lives of thousands of coffee farmers – New Food (press release)


New Food (press release)

Nespresso is improving the lives of thousands of coffee farmers
New Food (press release)
Nespresso has also progressed on its agroforestry plan. The reintroduction of trees in coffee producing regions helps protect natural ecosystems, thereby strengthening coffee farms' resilience to climate change and ensuring sustainable coffee

Nestlé Nespresso working to improve the lives of thousands of coffee farmers – New Food (press release)


New Food (press release)

Nestlé Nespresso working to improve the lives of thousands of coffee farmers
New Food (press release)
Nespresso has also progressed on its agroforestry plan. The reintroduction of trees in coffee producing regions helps protect natural ecosystems, thereby strengthening coffee farms' resilience to climate change and ensuring sustainable coffee

Wake Up and Smell the Low Carbon Coffee in Costa Rica – Costa Rica Star News – The Costa Rica Star


The Costa Rica Star

Wake Up and Smell the Low Carbon Coffee in Costa Rica – Costa Rica Star News
The Costa Rica Star
Solution: Use agroforestry methods to add trees to the coffee plantations to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, shade the coffee plants, and improve the soil. International Cooperative Support for Climate Actions. The government of Costa Rica, in

and more »

Nespresso Announces First Fruits of The Positive Cup, Its 2020 Sustainability … – PR Newswire UK (press release)

Nespresso Announces First Fruits of The Positive Cup, Its 2020 Sustainability
PR Newswire UK (press release)
Nespresso has also progressed with its agroforestry plan. The reintroduction of trees in coffee producing regions helps protect natural ecosystems, thereby strengthening coffee farms' resilience to climate change and ensuring sustainable coffee

and more »

Nespresso Announces First Fruits of The Positive Cup, Its 2020 Sustainability … – SYS-CON Media (press release)

Nespresso Announces First Fruits of The Positive Cup, Its 2020 Sustainability
SYS-CON Media (press release)
Nespresso has also progressed with its agroforestry plan. The reintroduction of trees in coffee producing regions helps protect natural ecosystems, thereby strengthening coffee farms' resilience to climate change and ensuring sustainable coffee

and more »

Notes from the Field: Ixhuatlan del Café, Veracruz, Mexico

In early June, CAN Executive Director Rose Cohen and Associate Director Heather Putnam traveled to the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico to meet with CAN network partners there and visit rural coffee-growing communities where CAN is working to promote food security and sovereignty in addition to women’s and youth economic empowerment. Heather filed this report:

Our visit included participating in a workshop with families working with CAN and VIDA’s food security and sovereignty project. Women and youth collectively reflected on what they had achieved in the last four years of the project and what they saw that still needs to be improved to further decrease seasonal hunger and strengthen livelihoods in their communities. The women shared their accomplishments, which include having more food available because of their vegetable gardens and all of the agroecological practices, like composting, that they had learned through the project. As one woman put it, “with all of the different food available, if there are no beans, then we can go get some squash or something else out of the garden and change our diet according to what is in the garden, and we eat well. Or we could trade foods that we have for foods that we don’t.”

However, the women pointed out that with the continuing crisis of the coffee leaf rust affecting their coffee yields even more this year than last, that things had been difficult in the last year and would probably be more challenging in the year to come. One woman said, “this year we will have to look for another way to earn money. I am going to take in sewing. That is what we have to do—be creative.” They also said that the situation will be difficult for a few years to come as they are replanting the affected coffee plants this year, but it will take at least three more years to have a coffee harvest from these plants.

The next day we were able to meet with AgroEco® coffee farmers from the Campesinos en la Lucha Agraria Cooperative and sign this year’s coffee importing contract based on the price and terms we had negotiated with them. They told us how they had invested the Women’s Unpaid Labor Fund from last year’s coffee harvest into the development of a women-centered agroecological coffee brand called Femcafe, which they will market locally in Mexico.

Finally we were able to visit the CAN-supported school garden in the high school in the community of Ocotitlan. There we met the graduating class of seniors who had built the school garden in its new location on land donated by a local farmer. The students showed us the amazing diversity of plants in the garden and shared the skills they had learned, like production planning, double-digging, making compost, and companion planting.

How Agroforestry can Increase Coffee Farms’ Resilience to Climate Change – 3BL Media (press release)


3BL Media (press release)

How Agroforestry can Increase Coffee Farms' Resilience to Climate Change
3BL Media (press release)
All agroforestry projects are fully designed and developed by the coffee farmers and their organizations. We assist them technically, but they choose and plant the trees, they maintain and monitor them, and also replant the ones that die. They only

Guest Blog: The story McDonald’s didn’t get to hear

Last Friday, I was sitting at a coffee shop thinking about the previous 24 hours — and feeling uncertain about my next steps. I’d just gotten back from the McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting in Chicago, where I had planned to share my concerns about pesticides used to grow potatoes that become McDonald’s french fries.

Though I had mustered up the courage to speak before hundreds of people at the high-profile meeting, the corporation's security people turned us away.

read more

Sustainable coffee and cocoa workshop helps growers – Peru this Week


Peru this Week

Sustainable coffee and cocoa workshop helps growers
Peru this Week
Many producers are part of a sustainable agroforestry initiative implemented by the Alternative Development Programme in Satipo (DAS) via the ProNaturaleza Foundation, with funding from the European Union and DEVIDA. The project helps producers to …

CAN Youth Network Capacity Building Exchange

April 13-19, 2015: Nicaragua

The first internal capacity building exchange of CAN’s network this year took place the week of April 13-19, 2015.  More than 25 women and youth leaders from CAN’s partner organizations VIDA AC in Veracruz, Mexico, PRODECOOP and CII-ASDENIC in Las Segovias, Nicaragua, and the UCA San Ramón in San Ramón, Nicaragua joined together for 7 days of exchange and training. The aim was to build skills and knowledge around building sustainable food systems in coffee-growing communities. The exchange, which included activities in both San Ramón and Las Segovias, Nicaragua, built on the themes covered during the Intercambio event held in Santa Cruz, California in February 2015. The exchange included workshops and activities related to the topics of:

  • building artisanal water cisterns for water catchment and storage;
  • making organic fertilizers like effective microorganisms, biomineral applications, and other soil fertility preparations to help combat la roya agroecologically;
  • women-led rural enterprises, including the experience of the women’s coffee-roasting business and women’s café in San Ramon;
  • crop diversification in coffee forests;
  • natural medicine using garden plants; and
  • community-based rural tourism experiences.

Important outcomes of the exchange included 12 cooperative youth leaders trained in the construction of artisanal water cisterns; more than 20 women trained in making natural medicines from plants found in home gardens; increased knowledge of the potentials of community-based rural tourism, coffee-forest diversification, and innovative soil fertility techniques in building resilient families and communities.

An early outcome of this exchange was the drafting of a resolution consolidating the group’s commitment to agroecological coffee as a sustainable food system, with the following collective objectives identified:

  1. Initiate a dialogue about the definition of Agroecological Coffee;
  2. Receive feedback and support from CAN to generate a collective identity regarding an Agroecological Coffee Farmer;
  3. Analyze the importance of an Participatory Agroecological Certification as a strategy to strengthen the organizations and communities we work with; and
  4. Analyze the idea of creating a collective brand of women’s coffee to promote the economic empowerment of women.

Our partners have specifically requested CAN’s accompaniment in reaching these objectives. CAN is excited to support the furthering of these objectives that will benefit thousands of smallholder coffee growing families in Nicaragua and Mexico.

Presentation at SCAA Meeting in Seattle, Washington

Community Agroecology Network’s (CAN) Food Security & Sovereignty in Las Segovias, Nicaragua project was selected as a finalist for the 2015 Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Sustainability Award. Roseann Cohen, executive director of CAN, Maria Eugenia Flores, project manager, Christopher Bacon, CAN affiliated researcher and assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University; and Merling Preza, general manager of PRODECOOP traveled to Seattle for the awards presentation at the SCAA 2015 annual meeting. While there, Maria Eugenia also presented the project at the Innovations in Sustainability Panel.

CAN’s project contributes to the long-term sustainability of the coffee industry in three ways. First, it promotes food sovereignty in coffee growing communities, which means healthy and stable families and communities who are able to stay on their land and make a livelihood from coffee and food production, and benefit from improved nutrition. This in turn makes the coffee supply stable. Second, this project supports improved coffee quality and long-term ecological sustainability of coffee production by promoting improved soil fertility and improved coffee shade management practices that also result in increased availability of diverse foods at the farm level. Finally, the project promotes stronger farmer cooperative organizations and their capacity to enhance the well-being of their members.

Project Details

The Food Security and Sovereignty Project in Las Segovias, Nicaragua is a collective initiative funded over the last 5 1/2 years by Keurig Green Mountain and implemented through a long-time partnership model integrating participatory action research and agroecology with cooperatives between CAN, PRODECOOP. R. L, a second level coffee cooperative, CIIASDENIC, a local nonprofit organization, and Nicaraguan and U.S. based universities. It aims to reduce and eventually eliminate seasonal hunger with 1,500 family farmers in 18 smallholder cooperatives. Core strategies includes sustainable solutions managed and owned by the cooperative to re-localize control over the local food system and reduce vulnerability to climate shocks.

Click here to learn more.

Santa Cruz-Based Community Agroecology Network To Be Honored For Work In … – Patch.com


Patch.com

Santa Cruz-Based Community Agroecology Network To Be Honored For Work In
Patch.com
Santa Cruz-based Community Agroecology Network's (CAN) Food Security & Sovereignty in Las Segovias, Nicaragua project was selected as a finalist for the 2015 Specialty Coffee Association of America Sustainability Award. The recipients of the awards …

FNC, Pur Project Will Plant Five Million Native Trees In Colombian Coffee … – VendingMarketWatch

FNC, Pur Project Will Plant Five Million Native Trees In Colombian Coffee
VendingMarketWatch
Pur Projet is a collective of associated structures that assists companies in incorporating climate issues into their institutional essence and businesses, mainly through the regeneration and preservation of ecosystems (agroforestry, reforestation

Collaborations for Adaptation: Smallholder Coffee Farming in Latin America

CAN Executive Director Roseann Cohen and Associate Director Heather Putnam traveled to Vermont to participate in a workshop that held from January 8-10, 2015. The workshop brought together three groups who have a vested interest and experience in working with small holder coffee producers in Latin America: direct and fair trade coffee roasters; non-profit organizations; and select researchers. The aim was to explore and develop specific plans for collaborations among these groups, including a “participatory action research (PAR) project that will address the questions and issues related to developing resilience to the impacts of climate change that are deemed to be of the highest priority by all groups.”

Rose shared her thoughts on the workshop: “To say that we collectively achieved much in the time we had together is an understatement. It was a true pleasure and a joy to see folks with such diverse perspectives and strong opinions about the issues facing small holder coffee farmers so openly working to communicate, find common ground, and discover the questions that we could best come together to answer. We look forward to continuing these conversations, and in taking action together, in the weeks, months and years to come.”

Ecological corridor to preserve Ecuadorian Andes bears – Cornell Chronicle


Cornell Chronicle

Ecological corridor to preserve Ecuadorian Andes bears
Cornell Chronicle
Alternatives include payment for ecosystem services, conservation easements, agroforestry, shade-grown coffee and ecotourism. Many of these have already been initiated and provide a strong basis for further development. Undertaking such a multifaceted …

Why shade-grown coffee is good for birds and farmers – The Conversation US

Why shade-grown coffee is good for birds and farmers
The Conversation US
Agroforestry – a technique that combines crops with a mixture of trees and shrubs – is particularly important for biodiversity conservation. Shade coffee farming, where the crop is grown under a tree canopy, is one of the most biodiversity-friendly

Report from Veracruz, Mexico

3 February 2015: The coffee leaf rust (la roya) has reached the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico and small-scale coffee farming families are working to quickly respond to the blight before it further impacts their livelihoods. As the Mexican government promotes a host of new agrochemicals, CAN’s partner VIDA A.C. is steadfast in its promotion of agroecological practices to replant coffee fields and is distributing seeds of the Geisha varietal, which is tolerant of leaf rust and also considered to be of excellent quality among coffee buyers. Geisha is hailed by specialty coffee roasters around the world as a vibrant cup with distinct notes of jasmine and bergamot; however, on-farm processing is crucial to achieving its famed profile.

During the last week of January 2015, AgroEco® coffee producers in Veracruz attended a three-day course on the improvement of on-farm coffee processing practices for export standards. Led by Engineer Clemente Santiago Paz—former organic certifier for CertiMex—this workshop highlighted the importance of quality control at every step of the process from picking to fermentation.

Suraya Arlsan, Technology Trainer for this year’s Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project (YLFS) evaluation, is currently in the region with our partner VIDA, A.C. In addition to attending workshops with coffee producers, she is working to train VIDA, A.C. staff and youth leaders in CAN’s Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project in the use of portable tablets and Excel in data collection, to improve youth leaders’ capacity to monitor changes in their communities. The group is working to create uniform and accessible definitions for fertilizer and soil conservation practices in order to increase the accuracy and consistency of the data collected this year. In the process, they are increasing their knowledge of methods that could further the health of the soil and in turn, producer families’ livelihoods. The data collected by youth leaders in the annual evaluation will work to identify the strengths of the beneficiary families as well as the areas where CAN and VIDA A.C.can further support them as they face the additional threat of la roya.

Coffee co-operatives championing grassroots sustainability in Nicaragua – The Guardian

Coffee co-operatives championing grassroots sustainability in Nicaragua
The Guardian
Agro-ecology: Farmers at the Danilo González co-operative are experimenting with a novel bio-fertilizer based on decomposed leaves mixed with molasses sugar, ground rice, grass and water. The mixture is left for a month to ferment before cow manure and …

From the Field | Ben Valdez

Ben Valdez has been an active FoCAN student leader for the past two years and is currently completing a field study with CAN’s partner organization VIDA AC in the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico. Here is his latest update from the field:

Greetings from Ixhuatlan de Café, Veracruz Mexico! My name is Benjamin Valdez, and I am currently conducting an ethnographic study on migrant youth from the municipality of Ixhuatlan de Café. In the last seven weeks I have met countless families from most of the rural communities within the municipality who have shared their time, family stories, and delicious homemade meals with me. My study includes fifteen interviews of youth ages 13-21 that live within the municipality and observations that relate to their identity. Some of the most memorable observations have occurred while youth work on their family´s land, while playing on their community´s soccer team competing for bragging rights, and while selling their homegrown vegetables. I have reached ten interviews of youth within my age bracket and four outside my age bracket. Simultaneously, I have taught English for beginners to three communities: Guzmantla, Ixcatla, and Ocotitlan. In all communities there has been a least half a dozen youth who show interest in participating in my study, and learning more about the English language.

The families that I have had the privilege of meeting show passion toward growing the best coffee in the world in the most sustainable and organic way possible. Another passion that most families share is diligence in maintaining the land they live on, maintaining a sustainable livelihood, and maintaining their fruits and coffee rich in nutrients. Despite economic, social, and medical hardships all families and youth that I have met continue to have an uplifting attitude toward life especially while working, harvesting, and reaching academic goals.

I expect to keep the relationships that I have created for the rest of my life. I know that this will not be the last time I will be visiting the state of Veracruz, the municipality of Ixhuatlan de Café, and the countless families and youth that have made my stay here most memorable.

The true cost of cheap coffee – Christian Science Monitor


Christian Science Monitor

The true cost of cheap coffee
Christian Science Monitor
As an example, he compared conventional farming of Brazilian coffee in the Zona da Mata region with best practices farming, which included fair trade, organic, and agroforestry practices. Test your knowledge Take our fruit and veggie quiz! Photos of

Explaining the “Hungry Farmer Paradox”

Most of the world’s food insecure people live in marginal rural environments. A recent study with coffee producers in northern Nicaragua’s highlands helps explain this “hungry farmer paradox.” These small-scale farmers experienced an average of three months of seasonal hunger over the year studied. Although cash income helped alleviate food scarcity, households that produced more subsistence crops, especially corn and tree fruits, reported still shorter periods of food scarcity. Meanwhile, farmers that used several commonly promoted environmentally friendly farming practices reported no discernible impacts on seasonal hunger.

In an article published in Global Environmental Change, Santa Clara University researchers, including Chris Bacon (Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences), Bill Sundstrom (Department of Economics), and two recently graduated Environmental Studies and Sciences students Ian Dougherty (now with the United Farm Workers Foundation) and Rica Santos (now with the National Council for Science and the Environment), concur with previous studies finding that several factors influence farmer food insecurity, including: (1) annual cycles of precipitation and rising maize prices during the lean months; (2) inter annual droughts and periodic storms; and (3) the long-term inability of coffee harvests and prices to provide sufficient income.

This work identifies the need for balancing coffee production with food production and improving exchange systems to protect farmers from adverse seasonal price fluctuations. It also considers a participatory initiative that uses fair trade cooperatives to increase rural food access through the re-localization of food distribution networks, sustainable agriculture training, and improved food storage. Although crop loss from coffee leaf rust contributes an additional challenge, these and other integrated strategies hold the potential to reduce threats to food security, livelihoods, and biodiversity.

Chris Bacon and Ernesto Mendez are CAN affiliate researchers; Maria Eugenia Flores Gomez is the CAN project manager for the Las Segovias project

* Bacon, C. M., Sundstrom, W. A., Flores Gómez, M. E., Ernesto Méndez, V., Santos, R., Goldoftas, B., & Dougherty, I. (2014). Explaining the ‘hungry farmer paradox’: Smallholders and fair trade cooperatives navigate seasonality and change in Nicaragua’s corn and coffee markets. Global Environmental Change, 25 (2014) 133–149

Author Affiliations

Christopher M. Bacon, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050-4901, USA

William A. Sundstrom, Department of Economics, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053, USA

 María Eugenia Flores Gómez, Community Agroecology Network, 595 Franklin Street, Santa Clara, CA 95050, USA

 Ernesto Méndez, Environmental Program and Plant and Soil Science Department, University of Vermont,
The Bittersweet – 153 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05401, USA

 Rica Santos, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050-4901, USA

 Barbara Goldoftas, International Development, Community, & Environment Department, Clark University, 950 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01610, USA

 Ian Dougherty, Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95050-4901, USA

Taste of La Pita

The Garcia-Díaz Family, La Pita, Nicaragua. Photo: Mara Nielsen

The Garcia-Díaz Family, La Pita, Nicaragua. Photo: Mara Nielsen

STUDENT PROJECT: January 2014

In January 2014, Mara Nielsen took part in CAN’s International Field Study program and spent two weeks living with the Garcia-Díaz family in La Pita, Nicaragua. During her two weeks in La Pita, the Garcia-Díaz family shared their experiences as coffee growers in the midst of a crisis caused by la roya — a plant disease (known as coffee rust in English) that has drastically reduced the yields of their coffee plants.

Taste of La Pita is a compilation of photographs of the Garcia-Díaz family in La Pita—a community of small-scale coffee farmers in the mountains of northern Nicaragua. This is where a cup of AgroEco® Nicaraguan Coffee starts: in the hands of the Garcia-Díaz family and the 14 other families that comprise the Denis Gutiérrez coffee cooperative.

Mara graduated from Colorado Mesa University in 2014 and currently works there as an admissions counselor.

 

Revisiting the “Thin Months” | co-authored by CAN affiliated-researcher, Ernesto Méndez


Revisiting the “Thin Months” — A Follow-Up Study on the Livelihoods of Mesoamerican Coffee Farmers.

Read this policy brief co-authored by CAN affiliated-researcher, Ernesto Méndez (Director, Agricultural and Rural Livelihoods Group, University of Vermont).

“Smallholder coffee farmers in Mesoamerica face formidable challenges, including highly variable coffee prices, increasing climate change impacts, and worsening outbreaks of pests and diseases, which contribute to chronic debt and food insecurity. Despite these difficulties, the results of a recent follow-up or longitudinal survey show improvement in key aspects of farmers’ livelihoods, though there is an urgent need to continue working with farmers on these issues. The findings point to promising strategies for enhancing livelihoods, including carefully selected crop diversification practices to improve food security; site-specific instead of blanket recommendations for improved agricultural management and livelihood diversification; access to affordable financing and training in financial literacy; and other education and training programs for farmers. …”

 

Youth Leadership & Education for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty

ANNUAL REPORT: Year 3 — March 1, 2013 – February 28, 2014

proud kids showing off vegetable plots

Through the Youth Leadership and Education for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Project, the Community Agroecology Network, in collaboration with our partner organizations the Union of Cooperatives San Ramón (UCA San Ramón) and Vinculación y Desarrollo Agroecológico en el Café (VIDA AC), aims to alleviate food insecurity and seasonal hunger among a total of 191 coffee farmer families, and build sustainable local food systems in 12 coffee — growing communities in Nicaragua and Mexico through education and the empowerment of local youth leaders in these communities.

Food Security and Sovereignty in Las Segovias, Nicaragua

ANNUAL REPORT: Year 4 — November 1, 2012 – October 30, 2013

Julisa_MalangaTree_

Through the Food Security and Sovereignty in Las Segovias Project the Community Agroecology Network (CAN), in collaboration with our partner organization PRODECOOP, RL, aims to improve food security and reduce seasonal hunger among 1500 smallholder coffee farming families in Northern Nicaragua.

Agroecology and Social Transformation


Reprinted from: Gliessman, S.R. 2014. “Agroecology and Social Transformation. Editorial.” Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Volume 38, issue 1.

Agroecology and Social Transformation

With its foundation in the three interconnected areas of science, practice, and social change movements, agroecology must position itself to guarantee food sovereignty, food security, and food justice for all people, in rural as well as urban communities.  This will require the transformation of the current agro-food system that has created an extensive environmental, political, economic, financial, and food system crisis. This crisis faces all of modern civilization, by the expanding inequality, increasing poverty, and environmental degradation caused by the multi-national corporations that monopolize the modern food chain.   Add to this climate change and the disastrous impact of the current coffee rust epidemic in Central America, and the urgency for food system transformation is paramount. We look to agroecology for ways to ensure this transformation happens as soon as possible.

The above paragraph is a summary of the declaration drawn up by the 45 participants from 11 countries in the 15th International Agroecology Shortcourse that took place at the Estelimar Center in Estelí, Nicaragua July 6-18, 2014. Co-sponsored by the non-profit Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and The Association for Social Development of Nicaragua (ASDENIC), the course was titled “Agroecology and Social Transformation: transdisciplinarity, health, and human development.” Through a combination of lectures, community forums, posters, panel discussions, site visits, and participatory interactions in communities where agroecological transformation is in progress, participants received a broad introduction to agroecology as an action-oriented endeavor. Everyone came away with the full realization that agroecology offers important tools for transforming food systems by working at the local level and with local knowledge as a foundation. From there, science and practice can be linked to establish alternative food systems for all people, and can provide models for the transformation of our food systems to sustainability.

At the same time, course participants voiced strongly that agroecology must not be captured by or try to conform its goals and objectives to the current food system. By linking ways of knowing and different knowledge systems from which can emerge new ways of action, the transdisciplinary power of agroecology can emerge and truly transformative change will occur. To learn more about the course, visit the CAN website in English at www.canunite.org, or the ASDENIC website in Spanish at www.asdenic.org.

This important theme is highlighted in the article by Levidow et al. (2014) in this issue of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.  If agroecology is going to contribute to real change, especially away from the monocultural, large-scale, external input-intensive, socially unjust, and corporate concentration of the current industrial model of food systems, the commitment to transformational change and alignment with social movements working for food system change is paramount. The attempt to consider the approach of “sustainable intensification” as agroecology is an example of conforming with the current paradigm.  Intensification focused primarily on increasing yields and efficiency, without changing the dominant paradigm, is not sustainable nor is it agroecology in its complete definition. 

Our journal looks forward to promoting and publishing examples of “transformational” agroecology, where science, productive practice, and social change are combined. This is why we are the journal of Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.

Steve Gliessman

Editor, Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems

Reference: Levidow, L., M. Pimbert, and G. Vanloqueren.  2014. “Agroecological research: Conforming – or transforming the dominant agro-food regime?” Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. 38(10): In press.

 

 

Dogs may be responsible for declining mammals in Brazil’s agroforests – Mongabay.com


Mongabay.com

Dogs may be responsible for declining mammals in Brazil's agroforests
Mongabay.com
Agroforestry is a land management strategy that is meant to balance farming production and biodiversity conservation. Here, agricultural products, such as cacao and coffee, are cultivated in association with native trees that support native wildlife

Cover crop workshop set for Saturday, Oct. 4 at Alan Chadwick Garden – UC Santa Cruz


UC Santa Cruz

Cover crop workshop set for Saturday, Oct. 4 at Alan Chadwick Garden
UC Santa Cruz
For more information, call (831) 459-3240 or email casfs@ucsc.edu. The workshop is cosponsored by the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems and the Friends of the UCSC Farm & Garden. Coffee and tea provided. Feel free to bring a bag …

Nespresso’s 2020 goals aim at coffee-led sustainability evolution – GreenBiz.com (blog)


GreenBiz.com (blog)

Nespresso's 2020 goals aim at coffee-led sustainability evolution
GreenBiz.com (blog)
And thirdly, it will become carbon neutral, using "carbon insetting," a fairly new concept that will see an extensive agroforestry program rolled out within its own supply chain. The goals are ambitious in scale, as well as in investment. Nespresso is

2014 Annual Report of Community Agroecology Network

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN,


In the past year, CAN has worked with more than 2,000 families to improve food security through homegardens, seed banks, basic grain storage, and soil fertility. Women have been leaders in strengthening local food economies, such as the agroecological farmers market in Quintana Roo and a women-run café in San Ramón. We held transparent negotiations with the participation of coffee farmers, producers organizations, an importer and roasters to bring 25,000 lbs of AgroEco® Coffee to California. We cultivated the next generation of food systems leaders through international exchanges and courses. These achievements are possible because of our supporters. To learn more, please review our annual report.

Nespresso Launches Sustainability Ambition and Sustainable Development Fund – Supply & Demand Chain Executive

Nespresso Launches Sustainability Ambition and Sustainable Development Fund
Supply & Demand Chain Executive
Nespresso plans to inset its residual operational carbon footprint and increase farm climate resilience through an extensive agroforestry programme. "Our business model enables us to be involved in every stage of coffee sourcing, production and sale.

and more »

Nespresso Launches its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso … – DigitalJournal.com

Nespresso Launches its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso
DigitalJournal.com
Nespresso plans to inset its residual operational carbon footprint and increase farm climate resilience through an extensive agroforestry programme. "Our business model enables us to be involved in every stage of coffee sourcing, production and sale.

and more »

Nespresso Launches its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso … – PR Newswire (press release)

Nespresso Launches its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso
PR Newswire (press release)
Nespresso plans to inset its residual operational carbon footprint and increase farm climate resilience through an extensive agroforestry programme. "Our business model enables us to be involved in every stage of coffee sourcing, production and sale.

and more »

Nespresso Launches Its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso … – SYS-CON Media (press release)

Nespresso Launches Its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso
SYS-CON Media (press release)
Nespresso plans to inset its residual operational carbon footprint and increase farm climate resilience through an extensive agroforestry programme. "Our business model enables us to be involved in every stage of coffee sourcing, production and sale.

and more »

Nespresso Launches Its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso … – PR Newswire UK (press release)

Nespresso Launches Its 2020 Sustainability Ambition and the Nespresso
PR Newswire UK (press release)
Nespresso plans to inset its residual operational carbon footprint and increase farm climate resilience through an extensive agroforestry programme. "Our business model enables us to be involved in every stage of coffee sourcing, production and sale.

Coffee Tasting | Aug 30 | Oakland, Calif

Posted in: News   Topics: Coffee, Events,


Please join Victor Castro for a coffee tasting on Saturday August 30 at 1 pm at the Farmers Market in North Oakland. Learn about AgroEco® Coffee, direct trade, and agroecology. Buy a bag of coffee, or two!

Farmers Market
Sat Aug 30 9:30 am-2:30 pm; Victor’s tasting at 1 pm
(Near Destiny Art Center)
970 Grace Ave.
North Oakland, California

Coffee Tasting with Victor Castro | Aug 30 | Oakland, Calif

Posted in: News   Topics: Coffee, Events,


AgroEco coffee now being sold by CAFE PANAMERICANO at the Phat Beets Farmers Market in Oakland!!  Coffee-tasting this Saturday at 1 pm (August 30) with CAN’s Victor Castro. Learn about AgroEco® Coffee, direct trade, and agroecology. Buy a bag of coffee, or two!

Phat Beets Farmers Market
Sat Aug 30 9:30 am-2:30 pm; Victor’s tasting at 1 pm
(Near Destiny Art Center)
970 Grace Ave.
North Oakland, California

 

XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse | La Pita Community Visit Wrap-Up


La Pita Community Visit Wrap-Up

Our two-day visit to Denis Guiterrez Cooperative in the community of La Pita felt as though we had traveled to another world where campesino families opened their homes and their lives to us. Steve (Gliessman) and I had been here 18 months ago with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour and we were so impressed with the multitude of changes that have taken place since then. The crisis of “la roya” killing the coffee plants has deepened, but the community is responding with resilience. Not only are they replanting their coffee parcels, but the women’s group is making their own fertilizer to rebuild the soil. As part of CAN’s Food Security Project, youth leaders are working with the women’s group to plant home gardens to feed the families and to sell extra produce in a monthly Farmers Market.

There is a feeling of hope growing in La Pita as the families are improving their land and diversifying their crops and their income sources.

See photos.

 

XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse | AgroEco® Coffee and La Pita


AgroeEco® Coffee and La Pita

AgroEco® Coffee Nicaragua comes from the farm families of La Pita. CAN and the roasters we work with are able to return more money per pound directly to the families. In addition, we’ve established two funds as part of AgroEco®:

(1) is a women’s fund that sets aside 5% of the payment for the women to use for agroecological projects they choose;

(2) a sustainability fund that sets aside another 5% for environmental projects in the community.

AgroEco® Coffee is a commitment to CAN’s long-term relationship with Denis Gutierrez and UCA San Ramón. It is not a certification, but instead a partnership with environmental and social changes measured through research every two years and shared with the farm families. AgroEco® Coffee is served at University of California Santa Cruz and Santa Clara University. It is roasted and available through Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company.

See photos.

XV International Agroecology Shortcourse | Trip to La Pita


The La Pita Landscape

From a hill in the center of the community, one sees the landscape management. The top of the mountain is maintained as a reserve. In La Pita you can hear howler monkeys and many birds. Below the reserve the community grows corn and beans in family parcels. Coffee is grown below the trees surrounding the community. There is a two-room primary school that all of the children from pre-school through grade 6 attend. See photos.

The Heart of the Story — and a Hope as Well

La roya,” coffee rust, began showing up in the coffee parcels in significant amounts in 2012. It is throughout Nicaragua and much of Central America. When Steve (Gliessman) and I were in La Pita in February 2013 (with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour) we saw many plants infected and losing their leaves. There was still coffee harvest that year, but it was less than the normal amount. Farmers were hoping it would be contained and were not sure what to do. Now almost all the coffee plants we saw were dead. Coffee is the main source of income for the families of La Pita.

Without the coffee what are the impacts for the family, for the community, for the UCA, for the region ….? The women’s group has learned how to make home-made fertilizer with several goals: using them to renovate the coffee parcels as they prepare to plant them again; using them in their home gardens; and potentially selling them. The fertilizer is a mixture of minerals, forest fungus, forest soil, flour, and molasses. During our group’s visit, we joined the women’s group, along with Don Pedro and Juan Pablo, in making the fertilizer. It will be used in both the gardens and the coffee parcels. The farmers are very inspired by this process — both improving the soil with their own hands and saving a lot of money by making the fertilizers themselves. Don Pedro said, “When CAN first came to us, they told us we had everything in our own hands to move ahead. We’ve found out that we really do.”

See photos.

Womens’ Gardens

When we were here in February 2013 with the AgroEco® Coffee Tour, there were no home gardens in La Pita. Farmers had their coffee parcels, many with fruit trees integrated to provide shade for the coffee and bananas, citrus, avocados, etc to eat. As part of CAN’s collaboration with the UCA and the families of La Pita there are now seven home gardens in La Pita plus a garden at the school. (This is part of a larger project with participants in other cooperatives in Nicaragua and coffee farmers in Mexico funded by Kuerig-Green Mountain Beverage Co.) As part of the project, Bismarck was selected as the youth leader to work on the developing of the gardens in La Pita. He receives training and participates in CAN’s annual international intecambio (exchange) among the youth leaders. The effort to establish the gardens comes at a critical time. Food from the garden is feeding families at a time when they have hardly any money to purchase essentials. See photos.

XV International Agroecology Shortcourse | End of Week One


Week One Wrap-Up

Throughout Central America there is a strong grassroots program called “Campesino a Campesino” where knowledge, based on farmer understanding, is shared. CAN has collaborated with Campesino a Campesino in several of our projects. We share similar philosophies of how to apply agroecology to achieve local food sovereignty.

We were visited by a team from Campesino a Campesino Nicaragua who shared their work with us. One of the leaders, Doña Carmen shared the work in her community of growing and saving local native corn seed. This is especially important today as a way to keep the high biodiversity of corn vibrant in communities throughout the Americas at a time when companies like Monsanto are attempting to get farmers such as these to use genetically modified corn which will lead to the loss of these local varieties. Hopefully these grassroot efforts to save the native varieties will flourish. It is organizations like Campesino a Campesino that will make this happen.

Robin, a student at UIMQROO and part of CAN’s International Youth Leadership Network, spoke to the course about his work with the women in the small Mayan town of Tabasco where they are developing alternative markets for locally grown food.

By the end of the week, course participants were divided into four groups. Each group will spend two days next week in a farming community talking with farm families and learning about the different efforts to develop sustainable practices that produce enough food to feed their families year round. Representatives from these four communities shared background information with course participants. CAN collaborates with farmers in two of these communities: (1) La Pita in San Ramón where AgroEco® Coffee comes from and (2) Cantagallo, a coffee growing cooperative that is part of CAN’s Las Segovias project. With this project, we are working together to develop ways to store grains and diversify farm production.

See photos. 

XV International Agroecology Shortcourse | Day 3


XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse
Shortcourse 2014 – Update #3

Theme for Day 3: human development with an emphasis on the social transformation aspects related to agroecology.

How do we really bring about social change? How can agroecology include processes that lead to a more just society where ALL people have enough healthy and culturally appropriate food to eat?

Presenters and discussion focused on gender equity and interculturality. There was group consensus that both are key components of agroecology. In many societies women already fulfill the important role of planting and maintaining the home garden as well as feeding the family. Both the growing of food for the family to eat and food preparation are key to food sovereignty and healthy family diets. For gender equity to be achieved, though, women need to be equal partners and to have their roles respected. They also need to be given opportunities for education and leadership positions. Within the household, women need to have decision-making capacity as well as economic self-reliance.

Participants in the group shared many examples of different ways this is happening. Yadira Montenegro, project coordinator for CAN’s projects with UCA San Ramón, presented the different ways UCA San Ramón is working on issues related to gender equity. Examples she included were
• educational campaigns against domestic violence and shared responsibilities at home;
• the establishment of a “women’s unpaid labor fund” through AgroEco® Coffee where women in the farmer cooperative have a fund that they manage and decide how to use;
• nutritional and cooking classes for both women and men; and
• involving as many young women as men in the Youth Leadership Network.

The principle of gender equity is core to agroecology and must be addressed as part of all programs.

In a similar way, respect for indigenous knowledge and the experiences of campesinos and campesinas must be integrated into all aspects of agroecology. Presentations by Dr. Francisco Rosado May and Luis Álvarez from the Instituto de Promoción Humana, a human rights non-profit in Nicaragua discussion, framed the discussion.

As we move toward a sustainable agriculture where all people have enough healthy food to eat year round, this approach must integrate the local knowledge that has been developed and passed down through the generations. Small-farmer knowledge systems must be respected and form the basis upon which sustainable food systems are built.

Through empowering the voices of women, campesinos, and indigenous cultures, we can achieve a social transformation through agroecology that respects small landholders around the world and respects and cares for nature and the resources we depend upon on this planet.

Roberta (Robbie) Jaffe
Board of Directors, CAN

XV International Agroecology Shortcourse | Day 2


XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse
Shortcourse 2014 – Update #2

The morning session of day two of the Shortcourse was an opportunity for participating organizations to share examples of how they are integrating agroecology into their work. Course participants attended a public forum held on the local campus of the Universidad Nacional Aútonoma Nicaragua. Here presidents, deans, and administrators from five universities and one research organization discussed ways in which they are integrating teaching and research in agroecology into their programs. We were reminded of the importance of the annual Shortcourses as opportunities to share and inspire one another when Dr. Dennis Salazar, one of the panelists, pointed out that Nicaragua now has both Masters and Doctorate programs in agroecology — these programs were first envisioned by participants at the 2006 International Agroecology Shortcourse held in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

Merling Preza, general manager of the coffee cooperative PRODECOOP and an international leader in just trade and food security for small-scale coffee farmers and their families, gave a presentation on the important role of cooperatives — not only for marketing coffee, but also in helping their membership develop healthy food systems to feed their families.

As part of the afternoon activities, course participants went on a tour of the demonstration farm where the Shortcourse is being held. CII-ASDENIC, this year’s Shortcourse host, runs the farm. They conduct trainings on sustainable farming systems for youth from the surrounding coffee-growing communities.

The day’s events came to a close with a presentation given by CAN’s executive director, Dr. Roseann Cohen. Rose spoke about CAN’s work and our affiliated farmer organizations, universities, NGOs, and researchers who make up the CAN network. Connecting to the theme of the short course, Rose closed with a slide that shows the areas where CAN engages the principles of agroecology to bring about a socially just food system:

  • developing local control over agricultural resources
  • introducing sustainable farming practices
  • developing alternative food economies (such as farmers markets)
  • empowering women and youth as key leaders in the food system
  • developing intercultural relationships.

Roberta (Robbie) Jaffe
Board of Directors, CAN

Report from XV Agroecology Shortcourse


Shortcourse 2014 Update #1
Estelí, Nicaragua
8 July 2014

The 15th Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse, hosted by Community Agroecology Network’s (CAN) partner organization, CII-ASDENIC, kicked off on July 6 in Estelí, Nicaragua. Forty-five participants from 11 countries joined together to learn and share their experiences in agroecology. Over a two-week period, CAN affiliated researchers and representatives of local organizations will share their experiences and knowledge related to agroecology and discuss how this is a key component of social change in the local and global food system.

The course opened with Steve Gliessman, president of CAN’s Board of Directors and course leader, posing the question What is Agroecology? The group wove together their understanding of agroecology: from the farm to the people, to the connection of food to the environment to sustainability, to how to build the soil and develop a cyclical nutrient system. Throughout the course, the group will explore: “How do we know if a farm system and the whole food system is sustainable?”

Midway through the course, participants will divide into four groups. Each group will spend two days in different rural communities looking at indicators of agroecology and sustainability. In the field, groups will be able to observe the farms and talk to the farmers, their families, and the organizations CAN partners with to learn about CAN’s action research initiatives in Nicaragua that are using principles of agroecology to alleviate the “thin months” (months when farm families do not have enough food to feed themselves.)

Each Agroecology Shortcourse is developed around the host region. This year, in Estelí, which is located in the Las Segovias region of northern Nicaragua, we are in the middle of small landholders’ coffee farms. These farmers, who work the land to provide coffee world-wide, often don’t have enough food to feed their own families year round. To address this problem, CAN has been working with our partners, the coffee cooperative PRODECOOP and the non-governmental organization CII-ASDENIC, on projects to eliminate the thin months. Specifically, our projects bring ways to store grains and increase crop diversity on the farms.

In addition to the challenge of thin months, over the past few years, the coffee in Nicaragua and throughout Central America has been hit by a devastating disease, “la roya,” or coffee rust, which is killing the coffee plants and drastically limiting production.

How is la roya connected to climate change? What is the best approach to recover from this disease? How does the food system need to change so that farmers are not highly vulnerable to stresses, such as la roya? How will farmers feed their families in the meantime? Within these questions in mind, participants consider this shortcourse’s theme: Agroecology and Social Change.

We will explore the theme conceptually in the classroom and experience it in the field as participants connect with each other to develop their understanding of agroecology and how they can take it home with them to their own regions around the world. Over the next two weeks I hope to share experiences and learnings of the shortcourse with you. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Learn More:

 

 

Report from CAN’s 4th Annual Youth Exchange


May 15-23, 2014: CAN’s 4th Annual Youth Exchange or Intercambio took place in the coffee-growing highlands of Veracruz, México. The Youth Exchange brought 32 youth leaders together to share experiences and knowledge about building food in their own communities. The majority of the youth are leaders or promotores from CAN’s Food Security and Sovereignty Initiatives in Nicaragua (San Ramón and Las Segovias) and México (Quintana Roo and Veracruz). The youth leaders were joined by university students from the Universidad Autónoma Chapingo in Veracruz, and the University of California, Santa Cruz. CAN’s partner in Veracruz, VIDA A.C., hosted the Youth Exchange.

Learn more

Reflections of Bianca Tornero, a student participant in the 4th Annual Youth Exchange: My experience at the youth exchange was empowering and very inspirational. By working with this group of youth and seeing their life experiences, I was able to really understand what food sovereignty means and that agroecology is a way of living — it isn’t just a certification that can be given. In class, we always talk about how in a hypothetical world it would be great to have people fighting for their rights to reclaim their land and health. Here, I was able to see what these people are doing and how they are fighting for their communities. This is what we always talk about in class, but actually seeing and meeting these people was just incredible. This trip reinforced my interest in my studies. Once I graduate I want to continue working with communities like these, searching for a more just and healthy society, not only locally but also globally. This trip really changed me. I’ve fallen in love with what I care about all over again.

 

 

Next big idea in forest conservation? Playing games to understand what drives … – Mongabay.com

Next big idea in forest conservation? Playing games to understand what drives
Mongabay.com
A paper by Harvey et al in 2008 proposed an agenda of strategies to maintain biodiversity in coffee agroforestry systems, but nowhere in the list were the prime interests of the coffee planters represented . In the coffee agroforestry landscape of the

Deadline Extended! | Apply by July 1, 2014 | XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse


Deadline Extended to 1 July 2014

Apply for the XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse!

XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse
Agroecology and Social Transformation:
transdisciplinarity, health, and human development
July 6 – 18, 2014 
Estelí, Nicaragua

The Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and the Social Development Organization of Nicaragua (ASDENIC), along with an interdisciplinary coordinating committee, announce the XV International Agroecology Shortcourse which will be held in the Parque de las Ciencias Estelimar, located near the city of Estelí in the north of Nicaragua from July 6-18, 2014. The main topic of the course is Agroecology and Social Transformation: transdisciplinarity, health, and human development.

Nicaragua is a nation that faces difficult challenges in terms of creating and promoting a food system that does not compromise health, human development, and the environment. Among rural producers and consumers nationwide, there are challenges and opportunities within the context of dependence on export production (especially coffee), cultural changes, climate change, and social and political structures. Nicaragua is also a place where agroecology exists as a viable strategy for addressing these problems and is supported by different social movements that include the agricultural sector, unions, academics, politicians, and nongovernment organizations. The objective of this shortcourse is for participants to develop conceptual and methodological skills to be able to incorporate the basic principles of agroecology into a process of social transformation that is focused on health and human capacity to achieve sustainable, healthy, and just development.

To apply: http://agroecologia2014.asdenic.org/ 

Article on Shade Coffee in BioScience

Posted in: News   Topics: Action Research Initiatives,


Shalene Jha, Christopher M. Bacon, Stacy M. Philpott, V. Ernesto Mendez, Peter Laderach and Robert A. Rice recently published an overview article, “Shade Coffee: Update on a Disappearing Refuge for Biodiversity,” in the May 2014 issue of the journal BioScience. Chris Bacon and Ernesto Mendez are CAN affiliated researchers.

 
Abstract: In the past three decades, coffee cultivation has gained widespread attention for its crucial role in supporting local and global biodiversity. In this synthetic Overview, we present newly gathered data that summarize how global patterns in coffee distribution and shade vegetation have changed and discuss implications for biodiversity, ecosystem services, and livelihoods. Although overall cultivated coffee area has decreased by 8% since 1990, coffee production and agricultural intensification have increased in many places and shifted globally, with production expanding in Asia while contracting in Africa. Ecosystem services such as pollination, pest control, climate regulation, and nutrient sequestration are generally greater in shaded coffee farms, but many coffee-growing regions are removing shade trees from their management. Although it is clear that there are ecological and socioeconomic benefits associated with shaded coffee, we expose the many challenges and future research priorities needed to link sustainable coffee management with sustainable livelihoods.
 
 

Explaining the “Hungry Farmer Paradox” | New Article


<--break->Most of the world’s food insecure people live in marginal rural environments. A recent study with coffee producers in northern Nicaragua’s highlands helps explain this “hungry farmer paradox.” These small-scale farmers experienced an average of three months of seasonal hunger over the year studied. Although cash income helped alleviate food scarcity, households that produced more subsistence crops, especially corn and tree fruits, reported still shorter periods of food scarcity. Meanwhile, farmers that used several commonly promoted environmentally friendly farming practices reported no discernible impacts on seasonal hunger. 

In an article published in Global Environmental Change*, a team of researchers, including CAN-affiliated researchers Chris Bacon (Professor, Santa Clara University) and Ernesto Méndez (Professor, University of Vermont) and CAN’s project manager for the Las Segovias project, Maria Eugenia Flores Gomez, concur with previous studies finding that several factors influence farmer food insecurity, including: (1) annual cycles of precipitation and rising maize prices during the lean months; (2) inter annual droughts and periodic storms; and (3) the long-term inability of coffee harvests and prices to provide sufficient income. 

This work identifies the need for balancing coffee production with food production and improving exchange systems to protect farmers from adverse seasonal price fluctuations. It also considers a participatory initiative that uses fair trade cooperatives to increase rural food access through the re-localization of food distribution networks, sustainable agriculture training, and improved food storage. Although crop loss from coffee leaf rust contributes an additional challenge, these and other integrated strategies hold the potential to reduce threats to food security, livelihoods, and biodiversity.

* Bacon, C. M., Sundstrom, W. A., Flores Gómez, M. E., Ernesto Méndez, V., Santos, R., Goldoftas, B., & Dougherty, I. (2014). “Explaining the ‘hungry farmer paradox’: Smallholders and fair trade cooperatives navigate seasonality and change in Nicaragua’s corn and coffee markets.” Global Environmental Change, 25 (2014) 133–149

 

AgroEco® Coffee in the News!

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN, Coffee,


April 30, 3014. “Joebella Coffee partners with AgroEco®” by Allyson Oken ran in the Atascadero News (p. A-2). The story highlights how the relationship between CAN and Joebella Coffee came about, recounting the efforts made by Daniel Fuentes (former CAN marketing coordinator,) Victor Castro (CAN marketing coordinator), Kaylah Reeves (Friends of CAN 2011-2012), students at Cal Poly, especially Nicole Telegan. Download the full article here. CAN has slowly been building its AgroEco® Coffee brand. Now you can find it as far north as Arcata, California and south as Atascadero. For more information about AgroEco® Coffee, visit the AgroEco® Coffee pages.

To download the full article, click here.

To purchase AgroEco® Coffee online, click here.

News Update: Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project


Last year CAN’s partner organization in San Ramón, the UCA San Ramón, worked with women in the eight coffee cooperatives participating in our Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project there to collect traditional and new recipes that take advantage of the rich variety of fruits and vegetables available locally in home gardens and coffee shade trees being promoted by the project. The result was the Food Security and Sovereignty Cookbook and Guide (the Guide), complete with recipes and nutrition guidelines. Earlier this year CAN was ecstatic to receive a donation of 150 printed copies of the Guide from the group of community volunteers working with the Dignity Health Marian Regional Medical Center (Dignity Health) in Santa Maria, California.

This month the UCA San Ramón organized a workshop with the women beneficiaries of the project to reflect on the process of developing the guide and distribute copies to the women. Together, the women at the workshop developed a set of reflections and commitments around the usage of the Guide:

  • Take care of the Guide in their homes
  • Apply recipes in the Guide in their daily family food preparation.
  • Have cooking days with their families to share the knowledge with them.
  • Hold more workshops to deepen knowledge around the topic of good nutrition presented in the Guide.
  • Utilize as much as possible the wide variety of vegetables and fruits available now in the gardens and fruit trees to prepare the recipes.
  • Assure the availability of a diverse array of food year round by planting gardens year round and planting new vegetables and plants that are not yet grown in the gardens.
  • Use the parts of the plants that usually go to waste but are useful in the recipes (like beet greens and other greens).
  • Have the youth leaders in each cooperative lead more activities to promote continued application of the knowledge and recipes in the Guide in each cooperative.  

 

 

Vietnam earns 9.69 bln USD from farm exports in first 4 months – UkrAgroConsult

Vietnam earns 9.69 bln USD from farm exports in first 4 months
UkrAgroConsult
In April alone, the country is likely to ship agro-forestry– fishery products worth 2.63 billion U.S. dollars, said the report. Vietnam's export turnover of major agricultural products including rice, coffee, and rubber among others is forecast to hit

and more »

Vietnam earns 9.69 bln USD from farm exports in first 4 months – Shanghai Daily (subscription)

Vietnam earns 9.69 bln USD from farm exports in first 4 months
Shanghai Daily (subscription)
In April alone, the country is likely to ship agro-forestry– fishery products worth 2.63 billion U.S. dollars, said the report. Vietnam's export turnover of major agricultural products including rice, coffee, and rubber among others is forecast to hit

and more »

Women-Owned Café to Open in San Ramón, Nicaragua


CAN seeks to improve food security and sovereignty (FSS) in rural communities in Central America and Mexico. We promote a combination of strategies that aim to increase local availability and accessibility of diverse, nutritious foods, and improve the environment, but also to empower women as economic agents and providers in their homes and communities. In our FSS project with the Union of Cooperatives in San Ramón (UCA San Ramón), CAN has begun supporting women’s collective rural enterprises to enhance their earning power and their organizational power. 

After more than four years of planning and developing skills in business operations, accounting, and marketing, a women’s group from the Danilo Gonzalez Cooperative in the community of La Reyna, San Ramón, is set to open a café in the town of San Ramón.

The idea of establishing the café as a collectively-run women’s business came out of the need to further enhance economic activities, increase family incomes further, and also educate the community about the richness of rural agriculture and efforts to improve food security and sovereignty. The idea for the café began in 2010, when the women embarked on a process to develop their business plan. Alongside them, a separate women’s cooperative called El Privilegio began developing their own business plan for a small coffee roasting business in their very isolated community of El Roblar. Thus, the idea came about that one group of women would roast quality coffee, and another group would sell it in the café in San Ramón, benefiting both groups of women and their families.

The goals of the café are to:

  • build entrepreneurial skills among the women, who will control and operate the businesses themselves
  • reduce outmigration from the rural communities by generating direct and indirect employment;
  • create a constant space for other women in the FSS project to sell their surplus garden vegetables, fruits, and value-added products they make at home (like bread or fruit jams); and
  • educate the community about where their local food comes from. 

 The café will not only sell coffee, but also fruit juices and shakes, pastries, breakfasts, snacks, and salads, as well as produce and crafts produced in the cooperatives.

CAN is proud to have helped support the women through the revolving fund loan to make the last investments for the café in their coffee machine, and chairs and tables. We look forward to seeing the results of more than 4 years of work!

 

Birds in the trees benefit coffee crops – ABC Science Online


ABC Science Online

Birds in the trees benefit coffee crops
ABC Science Online
Agroecology approach When trees and crops share the same land, both agriculture and biodiversity can benefit, suggests a new modelling study. The computer simulation of Jamaican coffee farms shows that trees planted in between the crop can support …

Jovenes SobAl Project: Update


We are closing Year 3 of the CAN and the UCA San Ramón collaborative Youth Leadership and Food Sovereignty Project in eight coffee cooperatives in San Ramón, Nicaragua. Year 3’s  achievements include:

  • Increase in the number of home vegetable gardens — from 24 to 45 gardens.
  • Further diversification of production from basic grains, coffee, and garden vegetables, to vine crops, diversified fruits, and forest fruits.
  • Establishment of a pilot food storage and distribution center (CADA) in the Ramon Garcia Cooperative. Basic grains are stored at the center for distribution at below-market prices during the “thin” months season.
  • Establishment of a pilot seed bank in the Ramon Garcia Cooperative. The seed bank will ensure the availability of quality seed for use by the cooperative. The first seed that is being stored is a variety of local heirloom bean, which will be planted next season. 
  • Increase in the number of school gardens from two to five gardens.
  • Individual knowledge exchange and workshops to promote vegetable seed-saving practices among the 45 women managing home gardens.
  • Women gardeners took their excess garden produce to sell at ten farmers markets in San Ramón.
  • Developing and publishing a cookbook focused on local knowledge and plants.
  • Eight youth leaders took on increased leadership roles in their cooperative, and at the level of the UCA San Ramón and the San Ramón municipality.

Year 4 of the project, set to begin in March 2014, will include some exciting new developments:

  • Home gardens will increase from 45 to 72 gardens.
  • A new focus on protein production for increased protein consumption and for income diversification.
  • Two women’s rural business plans will be financed through a revolving fund, with a focus on promoting the production and sale of value-added products by women in the project.
  • Diversification of markets for excess production, including linking the project with a new café in San Ram Ramón  to be run by a cooperative women’s group. The café will offer space to sell value-added products from the project.
  • A second CADA will be developed and established in the Silvio Mayorga and Amigos de Bonn cooperatives, which are the most isolated and poor cooperatives in the project.
  • The basic grains seedbank in Ramon Garcia Cooperative will be expanded to include corn.
  • The eight cooperatives will be exploring models of community seedbanks for vegetable seeds.

News from the Field | San Ramón, Nicaragua


San Ramón, Nicaragua: In early February, the Denis Gutierrez cooperative and the women’s group in La Pita participated in an exchange with a sesame and coffee cooperative and related women’s group in Achuapa, Nicaragua. The goal of the exchange was two-fold: (1) to learn from the experience of this cooperative in collective fertilizer-making; and (2) to learn from the experience of the women’s group in promoting women’s collective and individual rural enterprises.

Following the exchange in Achuapa, the La Pita women’s group met and discussed their ideas for developing a collective fertilizer-making initiative that would serve the dual purpose of putting economic power in the women’s hands, and of improving soil fertility.  The cooperative is beginning its efforts to replant 8.4 hectares (about 12 manzanas) of coffee destroyed by the coffee leaf rust (la roya) and accompanying anthracnose infestations that have plagued Central America as a whole over the past two years.  The cooperative’s efforts and the support of the UCA San Ramón Cooperative are critical at this point in time. Although the Nicaraguan government has launched a coffee renovation program aimed at helping smallholder coffee farmers replant up to 0.7 hectares (1 manzana) of coffee, at the same time, there is a seed shortage that is affecting the reach of the program and of the coffee renovation efforts in general in the country.  Furthermore, the government program provides cash to farmers to cover some of the costs of inputs, but not all necessary inputs. This is particularly challenging because farmers in times of crisis are more likely to invest the cash in necessities, such as food for their families.  Thus the decision of the women’s group in La Pita to develop a collective organic fertilizer-making business that they own and run, together with the coffee seed provided by the UCA San Ramón, will fill a large need in the cooperative.  Of the 12 manzanas of coffee to be replanted by cooperative members, about half of those will be specifically dedicated to agroecological management. This is an experimental model that the farmers themselves have proposed.  The women plan to produce both bocacchi fertilizer and foliar fertilizers to benefit the agroecologically-grown coffee. 

CAN and our partner Ético: The Ethical Trading Company, Ltd met with the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative and the La Pita women’s group on February 7, 2014 to hear their plans and support their development. The women want to develop a model in which they collectively produce organic fertilizers, which they then sell to the cooperative members (13 men and two women). The cooperative members will use the Sustainable Agriculture Fund, which is built directly into the price paid to the cooperative for AgroEco® Coffee, to pay the women’s group for the fertilizer according to the going price for fertilizer. In this way, the Sustainable Agriculture Fund, which is 5% of the AgroEco® Coffee price, will incentivize agroecological coffee production in La Pita, as well as strengthen family livelihoods in the entire community of La Pita. The next steps for the women’s group and the cooperative include a workshop on February 26–27 to develop a detailed business plan, budget, and work plan for developing the fertilizer business, as well as formalizing the women’s group with a name for the group.

In the meeting with the cooperative on February 7, Heather Putnam of CAN also presented a proposal for the annual purchase of AgroEco® Coffee from the cooperative.  The cooperative unanimously approved the following price proposal, which includes investment in the Sustainable Agriculture Fund and the Fund for the Recognition of the Unpaid Work of Women. The proposal also offers a price well above that of Fair Trade Organic certified coffee, recognizing the high production costs that small farmers assume.

UCA San Ramón, San Ramón, Nicaragua Proposed 2014 breakdown
TOTAL purchase price to UCA San Ramón per lb $2.20 100%
CECOCAFEN Commercialization $0.09 4%
Milling & Processing  $0.10 4%
Municipal Taxes (1%) $0.02 1%
UCA San Ramón Administrative Costs $0.11 5%
Fund for the Unpaid Work of Women $0.10 5%
Sustainable Agriculture Fund $0.10 5%
Price paid to farmer  $1.69 77%

 

Estelí, Nicaragua | XV Curso Internacional Annual de Agroecología | Inscribase ahora!/Apply now!


Inscribase ahora en:
el XV Curso Internacional Annual de Agroecología
Agroecología y transformación social:
transdisciplinaridad, salud, y desarrollo humano
Estelí, Nicaragua
6-18 de julio de 2014

La Red de Agroecología Comunitaria (CAN) y La Asociación de Desarrollo Social de Nicaragua (ASDENIC), juntos con un comité transdisciplinaria de coordinación, anuncia el XV Curso Internacional de Agroecología, que se llevará acabo en el sitio del Parque de las Ciencias Estelimar, ubicado cerca a la ciudad de Estelí, en el norte de Nicaragua, del 6 a 18 de julio de 2014. El tema principal del curso es Agroecología y transformación social transdisciplinaridad, salud, y desarrollo humano.

Nicaragua es un lugar donde la sociedad se enfrenta con retos fuertes de crear y promover un sistema alimentaria que realmente no perjudica la salud y desarrollo humano ni el medioambiente.  Entre los productores rurales y los consumidores nacionales hay problemas y oportunidades para enfrentar dentro del contexto de la dependencia en la producción para exportación (especialmente en el rubro del café), los cambios culturales, el cambio climático, y las estructuras sociales y políticas.Nicaragua también es un lugar donde la agroecología se presenta como una estrategia viable para abordar estos problemas por parte de varios movimientos sociales que incluyen los sectores agrícolas, gremiales, académicos, políticos, y no-gubernamentales.El objetivo de este curso es lograr que los participantes desarrollarán sus capacidades conceptuales y metodológicas para incorporar los fundamentos de la Agroecología en el proceso de una transformación social enfocado sobre la salud y la capacidad humana para lograr un desarrollo sostenible, saludable y justo.

Profesores confirmados:

Dr. Stephen Gliessman, Emérito, Universidad de California, Santa Cruz (UCSC)
Dr. Ernesto Méndez, Universidad de Vermont (USA), y CAN
Dr. Christopher Bacon, Universidad de Santa Clara (USA), y CAN
Dra. Roseann Cohen, CAN
Dr. Eduardo López, UNAN – Esteli, Presidente de ASDENIC
Dr. Francisco Salmerón, Universidad Nacional Agraria (UNA), Nicaragua
Dr. Jairo Rojas Meza, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Nicaragua (UNAN) – Matagalpa
Dra. Alejandrina Herrera, UNAN – Managua
Roberta Jaffe, MA, CAN
Dr. Francisco Rosado May, Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo), México
Dr. Carlos Guadarrama, Universidad de Chapingo, Centro Regional Huatusco, México
Dra. Laura Trujillo, Universidad de Chapingo, Centro Regional Huatusco, México
Ramón Olivas, Cooperativa PRODECOOP, Nicaragua
Yadira Montenegro, Directora de Desarrollo, Unión de Cooperativas Augusto César Sandino, San Ramón (UCA San Ramón), Nicaragua

Representantes del Movimiento de Productores y Productoras Agroecológicos de Nicaragua (MAONIC)

**El programa está en desarrollo y esta lista no está completa.

Para asegurar el precio especial, mandar su inscripción antes del 15 de abril!

Para inscribirse: http://agroecologia2014.asdenic.org/


 

Apply now for the XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse!

XV Annual International Agroecology Shortcourse
Agroecology and Social Transformation:
transdisciplinarity, health, and human development
July 6 – 18, 2014 
Estelí, Nicaragua

The Community Agroecology Network (CAN) and the Social Development Organization of Nicaragua (ASDENIC), along with an interdisciplinary coordinating committee, announce the XV International Agroecology Shortcourse which will be held in the Parque de las Ciencias Estelimar, located near the city of Estelí in the north of Nicaragua from July 6-18, 2014. The main topic of the course is Agroecology and Social Transformation: transdisciplinarity, health, and human development.

Nicaragua is a nation that faces difficult challenges in terms of creating and promoting a food system that does not compromise health, human development, and the environment. Among rural producers and consumers nationwide, there are challenges and opportunities within the context of dependence on export production (especially coffee), cultural changes, climate change, and social and political structures. Nicaragua is also a place where agroecology exists as a viable strategy for addressing these problems and is supported by different social movements that include the agricultural sector, unions, academics, politicians, and nongovernment organizations. The objective of this shortcourse is for participants to develop conceptual and methodological skills to be able to incorporate the basic principles of agroecology into a process of social transformation that is focused on health and human capacity to achieve sustainable, healthy, and just development.

See attached Announcement and Event Poster for full information and application instructions. 

To ensure you receive the Early Bird price, register before April 15!

To apply: http://agroecologia2014.asdenic.org/ 

Costa Rica Aims For Carbon Neutrality With Payments For Ecosystem Services – Ecosystem Marketplace

Costa Rica Aims For Carbon Neutrality With Payments For Ecosystem Services
Ecosystem Marketplace
They have also made efficiency improvements in the various stages of processing and have developed programs that support agroforestry systems for carbon sequestration. Reducing emissions from coffee production is essential to Costa Rica's overall 

Costa Rica Works Towards Carbon Neutrality With Payments For Ecosystem … – Ecosystem Marketplace

Costa Rica Works Towards Carbon Neutrality With Payments For Ecosystem
Ecosystem Marketplace
They have also made efficiency improvements in the various stages of processing and have developed programs that support agroforestry systems for carbon sequestration. Reducing emissions from coffee production is essential to Costa Rica's overall 

Healthy Soil, Healthy Coffee | Report from La Pita


Update prepared by Rachel Lindsay from ETICO The Ethical Trading Company and Heather Putnam, CAN

In La Pita (Nicaragua), the farmers of the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative who produce CAN’s AgroEco® coffee have had 80% of their coffee fields affected by the coffee leaf rust blight (la roya).  Cooperative members of the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative, with allies from the Union of Cooperatives in San Ramón, CAN, and ETICO-The Ethical Trading Company, have identified the strategy of improving soil fertility as critical to rebuilding coffee production and increasing coffee plant resistance to the ongoing threat of la roya and related plagues. 

The first steps in fulfilling this strategy is to first know what the soil needs, and then to produce organic fertilizers that address mineral deficiencies identified in soil testing.  On January 17-18, 2014, the 15 members of the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative, together with women and youth from the cooperative, participated in a two-day workshop on chromatography soil testing, a simple methodology that can produce reliable profiles of soil minerals, with limited resources. 

 The  workshop, facilitated by visionary Nicaraguan coffee farmer Byron Corrales, began with a group brainstorming of the problems with coffee production in La Pita after the economic crisis and the ecological crisis created by the agrochemical companies. Then, farmers brainstormed what the necessary elements are for healthy soil and healthy coffee production. We then collected soil samples, as well as samples of leaf cover from the forest to later make into a mycorrhiza* fertilizer, working in the cooperative’s primary school classroom until late that evening preparing the samples and the laboratory for the chromotography tests to be done the next day. 

The next day, we prepared the chromatograms, mixing the soil with solution, applying the solution to the papers, and then leaving the tests in the sun at least a half hour so that all of the colors could develop. Byron demonstrated how to read the tests, which are effectively “photos” of the soil and its properties, and we saw that some samples demonstrated an abundance of minerals, while other samples were mineral-poor; all samples showed low levels of biological processes and energy, which means that the plants are not able to absorb the minerals that are in the soil. 

Using material gathered the previous day from the forest, we looked at beneficial mushrooms, mycrorrhizae and spores, and coffee leaf rust spores under a microscope, before turning to the making of the  mycorrhiza fertilizer using forest leaf litter.  First we sterilized soil by heating it over a fire, and then innoculated it with mycorrhyzae and also added some corn seed.  We also saw a sample of what the final product would look like after one month of fermentation, and we applied it to the soil under the fruit trees in the patio of the school house.  Finally, we saw a video of how mycorrhyza is used in Colombia in plant nurseries and coffee plantations.  Overall, the two days were an incredible learning experience, encompassing everything from soil testing to fertilizer making to the observation of microorganisms under a microscope.  As Byron Corrales said at the end of the workshop, “everyone has to sharpen their machetes now to put into practice everything they have learned about restoring, remineralizing, and protecting their soils so that the plants can grow healthy and productive.” 

This two-day workshop is only the beginning of the Denis Gutierrez’s journey to improve its soil fertility so that it can restore its coffee fields and improve its members’ home garden production.  The next step is a two-day visit and exchange to Achuapa in Leon state to learn about a cooperative-scale fertilizer-making operation there, the local women’s economic initiative group, and a model farm owned by the cooperative there. From there cooperative members will receive one more workshop from Byron Corrales in February focused on tmaking other types of fertilizers, and on how to start coffee seedlings with seeds inoculated with mycorrhyzae. In early February, CAN, the UCA San Ramón, and ETICO will meet again with the Denis Gutierrez Cooperative to decide how the cooperative wants to implement the newly learned technologies and what kinds of support it needs to do so at a scale that will benefit both its coffee fields and its home gardens. 

Photo credit: Rachel Lindsay / Social Business Network

 

Joebella Coffee Roasters Joins with AgroEco® Coffee

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN, Coffee,


Victor Castro, Marketing Coordinator of CAN, reports that beginning in March 2014, Joebella Coffee Roasters in Atascadero, California, will be roasting AgroEco® Coffee. This relationship was brought about through student outreach from California Polytechnic State University’s (Cal Poly) Fair Trade Club. Victor traveled to Joebella Coffee Roasters with Nicole Telegan, an undergraduate studying nutrition at Cal Poly. CAN is pleased to be connecting with another roaster that shares CAN’s values. We look forward to working with Joebella Coffee Roasters to bring AgroEco® Coffee to their customers.

 

Introducing Lafaza Foods New Sustainable Vanilla Product Line – PerishableNews (press release)

Introducing Lafaza Foods New Sustainable Vanilla Product Line
PerishableNews (press release)
Lafaza's partners grow vanilla in complex agroforestry systems that work much like natural forest. Vanilla vines grow with cloves, coffee, fruit trees, and a vast diversity of native hardwoods. These fields provide important environmental services

Native Ants Help Boost Indonesian Cacao Yields – Asian Scientist Magazine


Asian Scientist Magazine

Native Ants Help Boost Indonesian Cacao Yields
Asian Scientist Magazine
Farmers often dislike ants, according to Stacy Philpott, an associate professor in agroecology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who studies insects in another tree crop, coffee. She said that the study is important in advancing the

Eureka! AgroEco® Coffee available at Los Bagels

Posted in: News   Topics: About CAN, Coffee, Events,


Afraid to leave the Santa Cruz area for fear of missing your cup of AgroEco® Coffee at Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Company (SCCRC)? Fear no more. Dennis Rael, an owner of Los Bagels and Bronson Baker (SCCRC) are long-time friends from Santa Cruz. Los Bagels has been purchasing coffee from SCCRc for more than 30 years and five years ago added AgroEco® Coffee from Nicaragua to their offerings.

Recently Sterling Muth, Sales Associate from SCCRC, and Victor Castro, Marketing Coordinator from CAN, traveled north to Los Bagels shops in Arcata and Eureka, California to share the story of AgroEco® Coffee and the relationship among SCCRC, CAN, and Los Bagels. Sterling presented the history of SCCRC and Victor shared the story of AgroEco® Coffee. They concluded their presentations with a coffee cupping. A good time was had by all.

 

Update from La Pita, Nicaragua


La Pita, December 11, 2013

The gardens are in post-harvest season, which means that there is not much being harvested, but other activities are definitely happening in the eight La Pita gardens: the gardeners have all left some celery plants unharvested so that they can experiment with letting the plants flower so that they can potentially harvest seed. Everyone is very excited to see how the experiment works out, as currently celery seed is not harvested nor conserved. 

The second activity that is currently happening is seed germination, mainly for carrots and lettuce, for harvest and consumption in a few months, after the coffee harvest and before the main garden planting season in April–May, when the rains come again.

The last farmers market is happening in San Ramón this Friday (December 13). The women are all excited to bring the last of their celery (it appears that it was a hit at the last farmers market during the height of the celery season), their root vegetables, and their vine fruits that are produced around and outside the formal gardens.

The gardens’ importance is even more critical this year than last, as the cooperative in La Pita has suffered increased damage from the coffee leaf rust (la roya) infestation and especially the secondary infestation of Anthracnose. Eighty percent (80%) of its coffee fields are now dead or unproductive this year.

The increased income from the sale of produce, and the improved availability of fresh and varied fruits and vegetables, mean that families can use precious income for other critical needs, like school supplies and medicines.
In the meantime, CAN and the cooperative together are exploring different agroecological strategies for supporting coffee renovation with increased soil fertility. In January, we will be performing soil analyses on different plots in the cooperative to assess nutrient needs, and a delegation of men, women, and youth from the community will visit a cooperative in Achuapa, Leon, to learn from their experience managing a collective organic fertilizer production plant.

 

Project Report from Veracruz, Mexico


Associate Director Heather Putnam filed this report from a visit to CAN’s partner organization, Vinculación y Desarrollo en el Café, AC (VIDA AC), and CAN’s collaborative Youth Leadership & Food Sovereignty Project in the Central Highlands of Veracruz, Mexico in early November. 

The project’s advances and achievements over the last year since entering its second phase are truly innovative, impactful, and inspiring.  Whereas the first phase of the project focused heavily on organizing groups of youth and women around the theme of community food sovereignty, training, and capacity building in vegetable production and nutrition, the building of strong foundation of youth leadership in each of the five communities, and the establishment of home gardens, Phase 2 has seen incredible work done to build on these strong foundations, and really strengthen family livelihoods in a sustainable way.  One big milestone was the first organic market, which was held on the campus of the Huatustco Regional Center of the University of Chapingo and included more than 30 women and youth project beneficiaries proudly selling their excess garden produce, and value-added products from their own patios and fields, like orange marmalade and roasted coffee.  The experience was highly successful not only because of the income it generated, but for the visibility it gave the project. It has motivated the women and youth to plan ongoing participation in existing weekly or monthly organic markets in regional centers, which will contribute to their livelihoods on an ongoing basis. 

With the income diversification strategy on a strong path, the project is also putting increasing attention to a critical problem for community food security in the region: the lack of access to heirloom vegetable and basic grains seeds, and the loss of knowledge around how to select and conserve seeds in the best ways.  The strategy the project will be pursuing is the establishment of community seedbanks.  Lucia, a star youth leader from Guzmantla, who mobilized a group of youth in her community this year to make fruit preserves for sale, has stepped into a leadership position and will be in charge of organizing the seedbanks. The first seed collection for the banks happened in November, and seeds will be distributed for garden planting in April 2014. 

I also visited the high school in Ocotitlan where we worked with the senior class last year to establish a school garden. We met with the new senior class and brainstormed with them about foods that are available and native in the region versus the foods they eat regularly, noting the difference between the two.  They were excited about establishing their garden and learning more about the relationship between food production, food sovereignty, and what we eat.

We then met with a group of women and youth in the project in Ocotitlan, and did a training and practicum on garden mapping and plants inventories.  It was amazing to listen to the women as they named every plant in the patio and garden and discussed each one’s attributes and how to eat or use it — an extraordinary richness!  The youth leaders and women are participating in performing garden mapping and plant inventories in December as part of the annual project monitoring and evaluation of impact.  

Finally, I met with the group of coffee farmers from the Campesinos en la Lucha Agraria Cooperative who produce CAN’s AgroEco® Veracruz Coffee.  We signed the final shipment contract and discussed needs and desires for this coming harvest season.  Carlos Guadarrama, CAN’s affilliate researcher at Chapingo, is working with the farmers to assess the impact of the la roya blight on their coffee fields. The farmers all expressed their confidence that with Carlos’ assistance they can identify the best agroecological management practices to minimize the roya infestation in their fields. 

 

Final harvest

1008131715_ed_lAfter 25 years living in my home in Oakland and 15 years of building a mini-farm and gardening in my backyard, this was one-half of my final harvest. (The other half was given to a friend, of course.) As I write this from Grass Valley, I’m eating the squash and tomatoes shown in the photo, part of a favorite summer salad.

I’m going to miss my mini-farm. But, I’ll continue gardening in Grass Valley, where I’m on the landscaping team with other gardeners from Wolf Creek Lodge. Perhaps the most important item in this photo is not the edibles in the basket, but the cuttings in the coffee cup from my blackberry plant. I will plant them here in Grass Valley and see how they do. They could mark the beginnings of something good here. My beloved blackberry in Oakland was from a cutting received about 15 years ago from a guy in Berkeley and it provided the beginning of my urban agriculture pursuits. Taking this cutting with me, I feel like I am part of a hundreds-year-old tradition of horticulturists who have carried all sorts of crops around the world, providing the basis for our current farming and gardening.

CAN and FoCAN at UCSC Fall Quarter Study Abroad Fair

Posted in: News   Topics: Action Education, Events,


11 October 2013: Action Education Program outreach for CAN was in full swing today under sunny skies at the Bay Tree Quarry Plaza during the annual Fall Quarter Study Abroad Fair at UCSC. Students, parents, faculty and visitors flocked to the CAN Action Education table for freshly brewed AgroEco® Coffee (Veracruz dark roast), as well as for information about Alternative Spring Break to Quintana Roo, Mexico this coming March, and CAN’s International Field Study and Field Course opportunities for the 2013-2014 academic year.