Equal Exchange's Red Cherry Challenge has ended, and we've tallied up the results!
All told, between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015, 613 congregations, groups, and individuals participated in the Red Cherry Challenge. Together we raised $8,281 for farmers whose coffee crops have been devastated by coffee rust, a coffee tree disease that has been exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
The Red Cherry Challenge has ended, but there is more work to be done:
Choose Fair Trade coffee. Supporter Barbara Metz from St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Baltimore, MD explains why: "As Fair Trade consumers, we are partners with the farmers in good years and bad. We hope that buying more coffee will help sustain them through difficult times."
Raise awareness. The educational materials Equal Exchange developed for the Red Cherry Challenge will remain available on this page for you to read, watch, and share with your community.
Make a financial contribution to one of the many nonprofit organizations doing good work to combat coffee rust. Above and beyond the Red Cherry Fund, Equal Exchange has contributed $80,000 to Root Capital and $20,000 to The Coffee Trust, both organizations working with farmers on the ground to mitigate the effects of coffee rust. You can donate to them directly as well, or to our partners at Lutheran World Relief or Catholic Relief Services who are also working intensively on this issue.
We will continue to share stories from our farmer partners in the months ahead as they implement new programs using the Red Cherry Fund and continue to confront this and other challenges. Thank you for enabling us to do this work!
The Red Cherry Challenge is a one-year initiative to help coffee farmers confront some of their most urgent agricultural challenges. While coffee farming is always unpredictable, new and threatening challenges have emerged in recent years as a result of climate change. Now, farmers need our help to protect the future of coffee.
As a participant in the Red Cherry Challenge, your coffee purchases do more: Equal Exchange will donate 10 cents per pound of coffee you purchase from June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2015 to the Red Cherry Fund. You won't pay more for your coffee — all we ask is for your willingness to bring more coffee to your community and increase your positive impact. Our goal is to raise $15,000 for the Red Cherry Fund and help strengthen farmers in this time of challenges and changes.
Challenge yourself to bring more fairly traded coffee to your community over the next year. By doing so, you ensure that farmers get the fair price they need to survive and build a future for themselves, their children and their farms.
When you sign up, set a coffee goal for the year. How many pounds of fairly traded, small farmer-grown coffee will you bring to your community through serving, selling or sharing? Remember, the higher your goal, the greater your impact.
Want to try exceeding last year's purchases? Let us know! We'll send you the number of pounds you bought last year so you can go above and beyond.
Coffee farmers confront many challenges, from small daily issues to bigger problems that are potentially devastating.
Coffee as a crop presents unique challenges to begin with, given its long, vulnerable maturation time and sensitivity to sunlight, temperature, drought and fungus. It's a long and risky journey from the soil to your cup!
Climate change has led to unpredictable weather patterns in the last several years, putting farms at risk of decreased production or total devastation. Factors like unusually heavy rainfall, unexpected dry spells and abnormally high temperatures all threaten the health and life cycle of coffee trees and cherries — and the future of coffee entirely.
On top of that, climate variability allows other threats, like damaging insects and fungus, to thrive in an unprecedented way and cause large scale damage. One of the biggest problems for farmers right now is the presence of coffee leaf rust, or la roya, which is a fungus that spreads rapidly and ravages coffee plants. Many coffee farms across Central America have already experienced substantial losses due to rust, and are struggling to survive and move forward.
Read a reflection on coffee rust in Guatemala from Equal Exchange coffee buyer Carly Kadlec.
Learn more about coffee rust in Central America from this recent New York Times article.
Equal Exchange is aiming to raise $15,000 for the Red Cherry Fund, which will create grants for farmers in El Salvador and Guatemala, two regions that have been hit the hardest by climate change. These grants will finance farmer-led initiatives that focus on farm resiliency and combating local climate change-related challenges. We're supporting innovation and targeted problem solving by the people who know the land and its particular needs.
When you participate, 10 cents per pound of coffee you buy this year will go to the Red Cherry Fund! Set a goal and strive to reach it in order to maximize your positive impact this year.
We want to help you achieve your goal! Over the next year, we will send resources to help you strategize new and fun ways to use Fair Trade coffee in your community. And, we will provide you with tools to inspire others and maximize your positive impact together.
This includes exciting media like videos, photos and farmer stories. For a group, you'll get educational resources like presentations and discussion guides. Plus: flyers, stickers and buttons to help spread the word.
You, and your community, can make choices that strengthen an equitable trade system, a healthy planet and our global community. Let's do it together.
Coffee beans are the seeds of a small fruit commonly known as a "coffee cherry," which grow on shrub-like coffee trees. Healthy, ripe cherries turn a vibrant crimson color when ready to be harvested. It takes up to six months for them to ripen, and during that time they are prone to disease, weather and insect damage. Unripe cherries are green or yellow and bad cherries turn brown or black, and those beans will produce bad-tasting coffee. That's why it's crucial that coffee cherries are healthy and selected with care at the right time.