The Organic Life in Coffee

Equal Exchange
October 9, 2015

Guest post by Fredy Perez Zelaya, a coffee farmer extraordinaire. He’s a member of Café Orgánico Marcala S.A. (COMSA) in Marcala, Honduras, an association of coffee growers who believe that organic agriculture is the only way to prosper and progress as coffee farmers. Here is a guest post from Fredy about his experience traveling to Colombia with Equal Exchange to share his co-op’s approach to organic farming with other coffee farmers.

I want to share with our friends [in the U.S.] that are drinking delicious coffee the experience of visiting, tasting and, learning in Riosucio, Ingrumá, Colombia.

Alongside 200 coffee farmers and the technical team at ASPROCAFE Ingrumá co-op, COMSA participated with Equal Exchange at ASPROCAFE’s annual farmer fair this past July. For us at COMSA, it is an honor to have shared our Philosophy of Five Ms with the farmers at ASPROCAFE Ingrumá. The Philosophy of Five Ms is a guide we developed to inform how we farm organically at COMSA.

The philosophy includes: organic Material present in organic waste, the Minerals present in rocks which are the source of soil, Microorganisms that do the work of decomposition (microogranisms are owners of life that permanently nourish plants through the process of anaerobic fermentation), producing the fourth M, living Molecules (vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids) necessary in all the processes of life. Gray Matter is the fifth fundamental M in organic agriculture and is present in all human beings, a synonym for observation, reflection, analysis, invention, and evolution.  

Using our Gray Matter we should generate ideas instead of buy ideas. We have all we need to generate healthy food, integrated families and communities. We cannot do this alone. We should create collaborative relationships such as, for example, the team we formed between ASPROCAFE Ingrumá, COMSA, and Equal Exchange, and you all who enjoy drinking our delicious coffee.

During the event, we spent time thinking about equilibrium, balance, harmony and symphony of the forest. We also discussed how to use microorganisms to reproduce and increase the life in our coffee farms that has been destroyed by “the agriculture of death.” This agriculture of death relies on poisons that rob thought and creativity from humans, converting us into a destroyer of life. Instead, we choose to ask ourselves: Why is the forest always green, how do flora and fauna thrive and maintain a natural balance? Microorganisms.

Beth Ann Caspersen and Carly Kadlec of Equal Exchange are generating huge changes for small farmers, transforming “the human farm” and the way we think. They shared with us knowledge about coffee quality and how to improve farm practices and motivational ideas. We also saw projects in development with producers who hosted workshops: Doña Leticia Escobar’s farm in Supira, Don Abelardo Cardona’s farm in Quinchía, and Don Fabio Enrique Morales’ farm in Minas. All of these farmers grow organic coffee and are members of ASPROCAFE Ingrumá in Riosucio, Colombia.

Working for many years with discipline, innovation, perseverance and a positive attitude, we have shown that organic agriculture is not magic. Rather, it is a formative process that begins with the individual farmer and their philosophy. Then, the regenerative processes happen on the physical farm through applying this Philosophy of Five Ms.

Translated by Carly Kadlec, Equal Exchange Green Coffee Buyer