Project Farm Update

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One month down, 11 more to go. Too soon?!

Every year comes with its own set of challenges and rewards, and this past year was no exception. It was a year of putting our nose to the grindstone, both at farm level and over here at HQ. 

The Challenges

Mostly due to the natural events that happened near the beginning of 2018, and what was expected for the following months ahead, the efforts on El Carmen, our project farm AND the Diaz family farm, were allocated to maintenance of infrastructure and planting, and refocusing for the year ahead.

The end of 2017 saw some pretty heavy earthquakes in the state of Oaxaca which loosened up the soil and uprooted many trees, and heavy rains were expected for the following months. The heavy rains eventually came in the middle of 2018 and washed away many newly planted shrubs, along with century-old trees. The end of the year also saw a horrible crop due to coffee rust (a notoriously harmful plague that hits coffee trees - 6 acres were affected), burrowing beetle (which, in short, makes coffee seeds defective), and heavy rains which knocked off ripening coffee before being picked.

Because of the family’s commitment to strictly organic practices, the coffee rust and burrowing beetle could not be subdued with pesticides or any other non-organic matter. And as for the heavy rains…nothing could be done to help with that either. Agriculture is a practice of patience and resilience which, with time, bears fruit. 

The Rewards

But, enough of the bad stuff! We were still able to accomplish some wonderful things. With part of the 10% allocated for reinvestment, we were able to:

  • Revitalize 9 new acres of abandoned land for harvest

  • Grow 4,000 coffee seedlings in the greenhouse

  • Plant 2,000 of those seedlings (it will be 2-3 years for full maturation and then they’ll be ready for harvest)

  • Planted a little over an acre of corn, bean stalks, and banana trees for biodiversity and food substance

  • Grew and bred 16 chickens from little cute eggs

  • Supported another local producer by purchasing a ton (a literal ton) of their coffee above both the market and fair trade price per pound of green coffee

This may not be much in the grand vision of rebuilding a farm but as we’ve come to learn, every little thing counts when the length of a harvest is so long and precarious. 

The Learnings

We’ve learned that, here in The States, we value things differently than farmers do. We value expediency and quantitive results while farmers value depth and longevity. And we’ve seen this manifest in a few ways:

First, we’ve wanted to see infrastructure rebuilt and financial resources used at a faster rate while the family down there (the farmer) have prioritized the planting, the land, and the fruit which will bear 2-3 years from now. They ask, “What good is it if we have buildings, patios, and roofs rebuilt now, but no coffee to harvest in the future?”

Secondly, we’ve wanted to harvest more land, but they felt that quality over quantity mattered more. If the trees were old, didn’t have optimal shade, or just weren’t kept up, they chose to leave them out of the crop, letting us know that if they had harvested those beans as well, the quality of the overall crop would have been compromised.

On to 2019!

As we continue to grow, and as other individuals continue to invest into legacies, culture, and history, we see our collective positive impact grow. We give 10% of our profit back, and our “10%” grew in 2018, and this year we’re hustling hard to make sure it grows even more. 

Our producing family in Oaxaca, Mexico, is eager to hustle with us. They feel that 2019 can be a year of exponential growth, reassured by our financial commitment to the full length of rebuilding. 

On our end, we’re eager to continue supporting their efforts, and are fortunate to have the ability to support other small producers directly as well (aside from our already established direct relationships). Our hope for 2019 is to have an even larger impact in more communities.

Know any coffee producers looking to break into the direct trade market? Email us at info@proyectodiazcoffee.com.

Fernando DiazComment