Meet Irma - Guatemala
Irma and her husband Jobino have 6 children ages 10 yrs - 24 yrs. Both husband and wife grow coffee but keep their coffee fields separate. Their parents and grandparents grew coffee. They recently moved to new land so Irma's coffee plants are just 2 years old. Their oldest daughter is a teacher and their 23 yr old Nilsan is studying accounting at university in Huehuetenango. Irma's 21 year old son works in the coffee fields and also is a mechanic. All the family helps in the coffee fields.
Irma first and foremost likes the money from growing the coffee. She likes working with the women's coffee growers and she participates in the classes and trainings they offer. She likes growing organic coffee because it's more healthy for her family and the environment and also she is paid a higher price. She and her husband make most of their own fertilizer from the coffee fruit ( the outside of the coffee fruit is removed and the bean is the 2 inside seeds). mixed with manure from their horses and cows. Being able to supply their own fertilizer is a cost savings also. kids work in the coffee fields too but also are studying in school.
These families are very busy and we were very grateful they could take the time to visit with us and answer our questions. I asked at UPC (the organization they all work with) if they have lots of visitors. They said we are one of only two groups that visit.
Irma was especially shy with us which is completely understandable. We hope to keep developing our relationship with these women and their families. This is our 5th year visiting and the women we've seen more than once seem more relaxed with us. Our hope is for our friendships and trust to grow more each year.
Meet Orfa - Guatemala
Orfa has three children. 19 yrs son Froidis, 17 year old daughter Deris and 14 yr old son Darvin. Both Deris and Darvin are in school. Her husband and Froidis work on farms in the US from December - June on a 6 month visa program. Her husband has been doing this for 16 years. You can tell she has been running this farm herself.
She is definitely a leader in the Women's group. She spoke about the importance the group is to her. Through the organizing the women have access to training and grants. She has goats from Heifer International used for meat and milk. She also has a room on her house with a bread making business. Some of the Women’s group bake bread together once a week to sell and supply their families.
While visiting with Orfa she was washing the coffee and with her son’s help laying it out on the patio to dry. She also spent some time raking the coffee on the patio to assure even drying. She is a hard working, forward thinking woman.
Meet Juanita - Guatemala
Juanita is married to Saul and they have 6 children ages 8-25 years old. We traveled 35 minutes up rugged roads into the mountains to arrive at their beautiful farm. Juanita is growing about 1.25 acres of organic coffee and 2.5 acres of conventional coffee. They have some cows for milk and meat and also 2 horses. They also grow some of their own corn and beans.
Juanita is proud of her coffee and her family. When you walk in her coffee field it was striking how healthy the plants are. In the midst of the devastating La Roya fungus her plants look deep green and strong! She is an amazing farmer.
Meet Don Chico - Honduras
Don Chico's full name is Francisco Alvarado Medina. He has a little over 4 acres in organic coffee and is in the process of converting more land into organic production. He has chickens, pigs, horses, and a few milk cows, and he collects manure to make prepared composts. His organic plot on the ridge is at high elevation at 1750 meters above sea level. Don Chico has completely embraced organic farming and even has posted a sign at the entrance to his farm describing it as a "Finca Organica," Don Chico also grows corn, beans, vegetables, bananas, citrus, and hardwood shade trees.
He is also a leader in the rural lending group, which guards members' capital in a bank account and lends it out within and outside of the group, functioning like a bank. Don Chico's lending group has started a little general store in the community, where each member takes a month-long turn staffing the store, and all members share in the earnings. Don Chico has helped bring a potable water system to the community, as well as new roads, and electricity is on the way. Don Chico seems to be right in the center of these collective ventures. He is a community leader, but he knows that all he does, he does for the future of his family. He is 66 years old and he has 2 daughters, Berta and Vilma, and 7 grandchildren. He wants Farmer to Farmer to know that he is very grateful for the opportunity to sell his coffee to us.