Danny O’Keefe, Songbird Foundation
Wednesday, 17 Dec 2003
VASHON ISLAND, Wash.
A beautiful day! The mountain (Tahoma/Rainier) is out in all her glory, the wind is down, and the water is calm. I wish I could grab the kayak and head for the west side of the island to visit the Dall’s porpoise or the pod of orcas rumored to be hanging around. But nooo, duty calls.
Roasted some wonderful coffees last night. I had just gotten some Kona coffee from my friends Cea and Bob Smith in Hawaii. They aren’t certified as organic or shade grown but in fact they are both; they care passionately about their lives and the lives that depend on their land. Cea often grumbles about not being able to have their farm certified as Fair Trade, as they certainly pay their employees fair wages and utilize sustainable methods of growing. One of the key reasons Fair Trade was started was to level the playing field for the small farmers who make up the majority of coffee growers but who often have the game weighted against them because they are poor and disorganized. Being able to get Fair Trade prices for their coffee is only one of the benefits. The community fostered in the process strengthens them and allows them to help each other.
I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a director of a company that trades carbon credits — a process that may become more difficult because the U.S. has abandoned the Kyoto Protocol. I’m sure there are some who see carbon trading as avoiding an essential responsibility, but it can encourage the maintenance and restoration of forests. This could be particularly important to coffee farmers, especially the ones who got conned into believing that if they modernized and put in sun hybrid plants, the greater yields would give them a significant advantage. It never happened, and as the volume of coffee in the world market grew, they were left with chemical-dependent soil and plants and no way to return to the sustainable shade-grown farms they once had. Carbon credits might stimulate replanting of these farms and pay these farmers for the conversion. It also might be a way to monitor the canopy cover conditions and thus create shade coffee certification at no charge to the farmers. Somnio, ergo sum.
Today we also tackle the year-end newsletter, which of course has the necessary donation pitch. Because we are a public charity, a 501(c)3, we are dependent on the kindness of strangers. If you’d like to receive our newsletter you can sign up here. We promise not to bug you with too-frequent dunning.
Our associate Jason Werle has been honing his videography technique in anticipation of his trip to Coffee Country in January. We’ll post pix and Quicktime movies on our website when he returns (if you’re on our mailing list, we’ll let you know via our newsletter — hint, hint). We’ll be working out the itinerary today and tomorrow and figuring out what kinds of shots and interviews we’ll need. All of this will eventually be combined into a DVD, as I mentioned in yesterday’s entry.
If you’re interested in visiting Coffee Country yourself, please contact our friend Kimberly Easson’s company Java Ventures. They will show you beautiful country and the wonderful people who grow our coffee. Kimberly is also a key person at TransFair USA, the Fair Trade certifying organization.
Gotta go. Time and the Washington State ferry wait for no one. Hasta manana.