June 20, 2017
Trees for Quality
As some of you are aware, the 1st of July marks our 10 year anniversary and as part of our celebrations we are announcing an important initiative that Tim has started. It's called "Trees for Quality" and in short, the aim is to raise as much money as we can so that we can plant more shade trees on coffee farms around the world.
Read more about our Trees for Quality project below and find out how you can help:
What are shade trees exactly?
Shade trees are basically trees that are grown specifically for the shade that they provide. Usually they are large trees with wide spreading canopies.
Why is this important?
According to the World Wildlife Fund, 37 of the 50 countries with the highest deforestation rates were also coffee-producing countries.
Why is this happening?
In the early days of coffee farming, farmers grew coffee under shade provided by the canopy of local trees, but in recent years there are more and more farmers cutting down these shade trees. Why? Because growing demand for coffee and pressed coffee prices have forced farmers to try and be more efficient, to produce coffee at it’s lowest cost possible. One way to do this has been to use more mineral fertilizers and agrochemicals and cut down more trees in order to grow their crops under direct sunlight. The thing is, this only increases their coffee production marginally and at the expense of the coffee’s taste and preserving the habitat of local birds, insects, flora and fauna. Unfortunately it is very common today to see coffee grown in full sun or in sparse shade. This causes the quality of coffee to drop and coffee trees are more stressed, making them more susceptible to pests and diseases.
What can we do?
Plant more shade trees.
Research shows that planting coffee under managed shade trees has a lot of benefits:
- Biodiversity is preserved, both by planting and preserving trees, and the trees also providing a habitat for local birds and insects.
- Using shade trees lowers the average ambient temperature for the coffee plants making the maturation process slower. The plant will also preserve more sugars making the coffee taste better.
- Although the coffee trees produce a bit less cherries per tree, the cherries grown in shade tend to be denser and of higher quality.
- The organic material produced by the shade trees through dropping leaves provides nutrients for the microorganisms in the soil. The microorganisms then cycle nutrients for the coffee trees and keeps the soil healthy.
- Leaves that fall to the ground function as mulch that helps preserve the water in the soil through dry periods.
- Shade trees prevent soil erosion and water runoff.
- Planting fruit trees gives the farmers "free food" that they normally would buy in the local market.
- Planting leguminous trees increases the nitrogen in the soil that reduces the need for mineral fertilizers
- Coffee trees grown in managed shade are less stressed, decreasing the need for agrochemicals.
- Weeds don't thrive under the canopy of shade trees.
- There are of course many more benefits such as making the coffee more carbon neutral, etc.
Make a donation
If you are looking for a way to give back and influence the story behind your cup of coffee, this is one way to do it. Help us restore the natural habitat of the farms we work with. We are currently accepting donations from anywhere in the world and you can do so by clicking on the "Donate" button below. Alternatively, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.