Community Coffee Company has had a long partnership with the Colombian communities of Toledo and Labateca, where coffee beans for the company are grown.
Over the past two years, Community Coffee Company has supported a program called Young Coffee Growers, Sowers of the Future which supplied 100 young people between the ages of 12 and 18 with job training as coffee growers to complement their formal education. The project provided the communities with 1,000 coffee plants on 18 new hectares of family farmland.
The students were given seeds and training on how to grow, fertilize, dry and care for a quality coffee bean harvest. The program is intended to help families pass on coffee-growing traditions to their children and provide the young growers with the support they need to earn a living. For some, it will provide a way to fund their continuing education.
Tito Antonio Capacho says his son came to him and asked to use some of the family land to grow coffee. The family helped him sow and care for the plants, which he loved doing, and he put a lot of effort into the work, Capacho says.
In addition to coffee-growing techniques, the program provides workshops for the students to teach values like self-esteem, the importance of social and economic human development and how to consider the bigger picture of the international market of which they are a part. They’re also promoting gender equality by encouraging girls to get involved as coffee growers.
Heynner Gustavo Estupiñan G., one of the young coffee growers, says he enjoyed the way the program allowed the students and families to work together with the community. It’s important for young people to get involved in projects in rural areas because there are so many people who need help, he says.
Families say the program has helped them modernize their farms and allowed them to become more productive while increasing the quality of the coffee they grow. The students were taught to appreciate their craft and take pride in the quality product they’re producing.
The project teaches the young growers and their families how to see the business through the scope of producing high-quality coffee with the best prices on the international market, says Gabriel Gonzalez Sanchez, the coffee growers extension leader for the state of Norte de Santander.
One young coffee grower, Tatiana Villamizar, says she hopes projects like this can continue so that new generations will be encouraged to get involved with the community’s coffee-growing traditions.
As an added honor to Community Coffee Company’s support for the area, in 2015, the Toledito Juvenile Rural Home was renamed for Henry Norman Saurage III, a previous owner of Community Coffee Company, in honor of his support for education in the area. The school houses students whose homes are too far for them to commute daily. The school has been supported and built up by funds fromCommunity Coffee Company programs.