Coffee has the potential to thrive in healthy, biodiverse environments while also supporting the livelhoods of the farmers who grow it and the communities where they live. Our programs at origin work to push that potential.
Coffee farmers are facing increased risks due to shifting weather patterns caused by climate change. In the face of these changes, being a good partner means not only working to reduce our own carbon footprint, but also helping farmers identify and apply practices that will help them adapt to changing conditions while maintaining their livelihoods. In 2014, we began researching adaptation strategies in collaboration with the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment. In 2016, we are expanding our implementation of those adaptation strategies and refining our methodology to use with additional producer partners.
Our Seeds program gives small grants to producers and producer organizations we work with to implement social and environmental sustainability projects they identify. Whether it’s a school closer to a community or an organic composting workshop, sustainability projects usually require capital to get up and running. We fund many diverse projects, believing strongly that our producer partners know what’s most needed in their communities.
Sustainability as it relates to coffee-growing is complex—encompassing both environmental issues, like soil health, as well as social and financial issues, like education and access to credit. To better-reflect this complexity, we’re evolving from thinking about sustainability solely in terms of yes/no certifications like organic or Direct Trade to considering sustainability as movement along a continuum. We’re working on a more holistic way to measure and communicate this movement. Stay tuned!
Sustainability is often a long-term and evolving goal—requiring a long-term vision and multi-year planning. We like to meet farmers where they are at on their sustainability journeys, but also ask for a commitment to continuous improvement. What that continuous improvement looks like varies farm to farm, so we’re working with each of our producer partners to set yearly sustainability goals specific to their situations.