I had a dream in 2007 that I would one day meet coffee farmers from a cooperative in rural Rwanda. At the time I was working with Fair Trade Towns, TransFair USA and Fair Trade Resource Network. I had just finished my masters thesis titled “The Role of Multi-National Corporations in the Fair Trade Movement”. I was organizing initiatives to raise awareness around the importance of conscious consumption, especially when voting with our dollars to support products and crafts that are made in the global south. Most of all, I was (and am!) passionate about the coffee industry. It was a typical working day in the U.S. and I had not yet been to Africa, when I came across the website of COOPAC organic association of coffee farmers. I was so impressed by their website content and transparent language to describe how they valued human rights and environmental issues and I sent an email to the founding director to tell him. He invited me to Rwanda to see for myself and another seed was planted. That was 8 years ago. This weekend I made my way to the cooperative and I finally met the coffee farmers whose stories I was sharing almost a decade ago, before I had a clue about what their life might really might be like. Wow wow wow. As they say, IF YOU CAN DREAM IT YOU CAN DO IT!
Images from coffee farmers near Gisenyi, Rwanda. There are 6,000 members of COOPAC association of organic coffee farms and here are a few. Many of them attended AHE’s CRM workshop yesterday (we had room for 40 and were told we could have had many more!). They have asked us to return quickly and have confirmed the skills have already “helped to create a more peaceful home environment.”
Join me in June when I return to COOPAC on a coffee buying trip with Asheville, NC-based Dynamite Coffee Roasters, and build out the first AHE Crop-to-Cup extravaganza!