In summer 2016 Ori and his good friend Conrad went on a special sourcing trip to Peru. Trekking for days over the breathtaking landscape towards the Chilchos Valley, they gained a genuine feel for its remoteness and the efforts involved in accessing coffee in this region. Here they met Guillermo who has been growing coffee for us ever since!
Our coffee is produced by Guillermo Cotrina and his family in the amazing Chilchos Valley in Northern Peru. The Valley is swathed in luxuriant cloud forest and packed full of rare and endemic species like the spatula tailed humming bird, the woolly monkey and one of the last refuges for our very own Paddington Bear - the spectacled bear.
The only breaks in the forest are the tiny parcels of land devoted to subsistence farming, coffee and pasture for cattle for its small population. The ecological integrity of the Valley remains very strong because the community are committed to living in harmony with their forest, which is so vital to sustaining their farming and wellbeing. It has also benefited from the lack of road access to the Valley which has meant it has managed to avoid the ravages of logging, mining and other large scale extractive industries which have ravaged so many other forests in the region.
Carefully produced coffee represents an ideal income stream for the Valley’s inhabitants and its forests, but only if the price is high enough to allow them to overcome the costs of transporting all their produce on horseback to market. Although some forest clearance is necessary to create the coffee farm, the area of land a small-scale farmer can manage is very small (generally around 2-3 acres) and the large trees are left intact as the coffee is grown under shade. If managed efficiently with the use of organic compost from the coffee pulp, and other farming by-products, the land can be continually used for many years before being left to rest and regenerate naturally while the farmer shifts their cultivation over to another site before returning to the original farm once the soil’s fertility has regenerated. This pattern of rotational farming is not new, its a traditional land management practice which is now being applied to coffee.
Guillermo’s experience of Direct-Trade with Missing Bean has generated a huge amount of enthusiasm and several of his neighbours are now keen to come on board. The inclusion of additional coffee growers is vital to the long term success of this initiative as the protection of the whole Valley will only work if as many community members as possible are involved and benefiting from the higher prices and Direct-Trade facilitated by our relationship.
With this in mind some community members are coming together to organise a weekly environmental awareness activity for primary school children. The initiative, which will be run by a primary school teacher, will focus on helping the children learn about both the global challenges facing our planet and the question of how residents of the Valley can act locally to secure their own wellbeing as well as contribute to the bigger global question. Over the course of the year the objective is to support the children to develop and implement their own idea for an environmental project to support the Valley which could range from a waste recycling scheme, an information campaign or composting facilities.
We love our relationship with Guillermo, his family, and the surrounding area, and hope to continue this link-up for years to come. Through purchasing a bag of Peru Chilchos Valley, you're directly helping to encourage sustainable farming and trading methods, as well as helping towards educating the next generation with these ethical methods.