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Our Mission is to be a socially, environmentally and economically Sustainable Farm - a model that sows the seeds of Sustainability to the Individual, to the Family, to the Business community and to Society as a whole.

Last week the first water treatment project was completed on the Serra do Cigano Mountain.

Generous donations from Bob-O-Link Coffee clients provided the funds to build a residential waste water treatment facility modeled on the larger system recently inaugurated at Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza.

With the help of these donations along with support from FAFCoffees, The Mayor and Local Government of Caconde, São Paulo and the residents of the Serra do Cigano Community, Bob-O-Link Producers Ivan and Rose dos Santos are now returning the spring water they use on their farm back to nature just as pristine as when they received it.

List of Donors to the Project:

  • The Barn - Coffee Roaster and Shop - Berlin, Gemany.
  • Notes - Coffee Roaster and Shop - London, UK.
  • Union Roasted - Coffee Roaster - London, UK.
  • Deeper Roots - Coffee Roaster and Shop - Cincinnati, USA.
  • Coutume - Coffee Roaster and Shop - Paris, France.
  • Five Elephant - Coffee Roaster and Shop - Berlin, Germany.

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Caconde

FAF Coffees and Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, in partnership with The Barn, one of the top Roasteries in Berlin, is very proud to announce that we have broken ground on the first Water Treatment Project on the Serra do Cigano.

Sitio Seriema has been chosen for this pilot project to install a Ecologically Friendly waste water treatment system based on biodigester and filtration garden technology. Proprietors Ivan and Rose dos Santos will soon have a completely self-contained and simple to maintain water treatment system that will ensure clean water continues to flow down the mountain for their neighbors and for future generations.

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With professors Ademir Caligari (cover crops), Antonio Carlos Silva (soil micro-biology), Leonardo Maeda (water and waste)



Workshop with the legendaries Joao Neto, Caligari, Piero - Terra Límpida, Leandro, Paulão with the Faf Team and the Bobolink Partners

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We had the honor to receive the Cônsul General of China at Faf - December 2 , 2018

  • Cônsul Geral da China: Sra Chen Pei Jie
  • Cônsul Social E Cultural: Sr Zhang Yu Cheng
  • Cônsul Comercial: Sra Chen Xitong
  • Cônsul Protocolos: Sr Carlos Ying
  • Presidente Associação Cultural Brasil: China Sr Lee Cheng Pin
  • Presidente Associação da Pacificação: Sr Li Hui Jing

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by Elizabeth Teague

If you bought a cup of certified coffee recently, chances are good it might have been brewed using "shade-grown" beans. But what is shade-grown coffee exactly, and why is it important?

What does shade-grown coffee look like?

Coffee can be grown under shaded or full-sun conditions. Globally, about 25 percent of the world’s coffee land is managed under diverse shade, 35 percent under partial shade, and 40 percent under full-sun. The amount of coffee land under full-sun conditions has increased dramatically over the last half-century, as many have sought increased yields via full-sun plantations in newer areas such as Brazil and Vietnam, and the conversion of shade-grown farms in Latin America.

Coffee grown under full-sun conditions (left), versus coffee grown under partial shade conditions (right) | Photo credit: Tico Times (left)

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Coffee grown under full-sun conditions (left), versus coffee grown under partial shade conditions (right) | Photo credit: Tico Times (left)

Many coffee tree varietals, however, naturally prefer shaded environments, such as the tropical rainforests of Central or South America. This is particularly true of Arabica trees, which provide most of the world’s specialty coffee. As a result, many farmers continue to grow their coffee trees within natural or managed forest landscapes, a practice known as “agroforestry,” generally beside deciduous shade and/or fruit trees.

Coffee produced on agroforestry farms is broadly referred to as “shade-grown coffee.” However, not all shade-grown coffee is the same. The extent of shade coverage in agroforestry systems varies widely, from densely shaded systems resembling mature forests to more lightly shaded systems with only one or two varieties of shade trees.

Generally, agroforestry farms can be grouped into the following three categories:

  • Rustic: Coffee grown within the existing forest, with coffee plants replacing some of the native plants.
  • Traditional polyculture: Coffee is grown among native forest trees and intercropped with planted tree and plant species, including fruit and vegetables which farmers often use to supplement their incomes.
  • Commercial polyculture: Most native trees are removed to provide more space for coffee plants. Coffee is grown mostly under planted timber and fruit trees.
Adapted from Moguel, P., and Toledo, V.M. (1999).

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Adapted from Moguel, P., and Toledo, V.M. (1999).

Why is agroforestry coffee important?

Shade-grown coffee can benefit farmers and the environment:

Potential Livelihood Benefits:
  • Provide farmers with additional sources of income, in the form of fruit or wood
  • Reduce farmers’ production costs, as shade-grown coffee generally requires fewer chemical inputs, such as pesticides
  • Increase farmers’ productivity over the long-term, as coffee trees grown under shade have a longer lifespan than those grown under very lightly shaded or full-sun conditions; the data on short-term productivity gains is more inconclusive
  • Raise coffee quality, which can lead to higher prices for farmers, as shaded coffee trees generally produce slow-maturing, larger beans with a better flavor profile (read more about the evidence in this discussion from the Specialty Coffee Association of America)
  • Provide farmers with access to specialty markets that reward shade-grown coffee with premium prices
Potential Environmental Benefits:
  • Enrich the soil and strengthen root systems, preventing soil degradation and erosion
  • Capture and retain rainfall, lowering temperatures for the heat-sensitive coffee trees
  • Attract birds, ants, and other organisms that serve as a natural pest control against coffee pests
  • Remove carbon from the atmosphere, helping with climate change mitigation
  • (Assuming a high degree of shade) Serve as important habitat for wildlife, such as migratory birds – this is why shade-grown coffee is often also called “bird-friendly” coffee (read more about bird-friendly coffee on the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center website).
  • In general, the denser the shade, the greater the environmental benefits. But at high levels of shade, there can be trade-offs between environmental and livelihoods benefits. While shade-grown trees have longer lifespans and are can be more resilient to pests and diseases, they generally produce fewer coffee beans than full-sun trees in any given year. This means that farmers growing shade-grown coffee may have less coffee to sell. However, most coffee grown in full-sun conditions is lower quality than coffee grown in shaded conditions, and therefore often does not earn premium prices from buyers. Coffee farmers have to balance these trade-offs when managing their farms.

How does agroforestry relate to Root Capital’s portfolio?

The majority of Root Capital’s coffee clients buy from farmers growing shade-grown coffee, generally from traditional or commercial polyculture systems. Many of these clients help farmers maintain or further diversify their agroforestry farms by providing them with training on shade management, or with free or subsidized shade tree seedlings. (We collect this information using our Social and Environmental Scorecards.)

Our loan officers have conducted due diligence on agroforestry coffee farms in the jungles of Peru, the cloud forests of southern Mexico, the volcanic hills of Uganda, and everywhere in between.

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31 de Outubro a 04 de Novembro, 2018. Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza, Mococa-SP

Continuam abertas as inscrições para a Experiência Schumacher Brasil, que acontece de 31/10 a 4/11 na Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (SP). A atividade é inspirada na Schumacher Experience Week, uma semana onde os participantes vivenciam o espírito da escola que fica na cidade de Totnes, no Reino Unido.

Venha conhecer e se aprofundar em temas como Pensamento Complexo, Economia para a Transição e Ecologia Profunda.

Para se inscrever, CLIQUE AQUI.

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As part of the continuing project to promote the concept of Living Soils, FAF hosted a workshop with Dr. Ademir Calegari of the Paraná Agronomy Institute, a world renowned expert in using natural plant coverings to recover farmland damaged from extensive use of chemicals and monoculture. Silvia Barretto, FAF’s owner, also invited several of the FAFCoffee partner producers. They were impressed with Dr. Calegari’s extensive knowledge of the subject as was he with their enthusiasm to adopt new sustainable farming methods.

As a result, a second workshop has been scheduled for June 6th to include all the Bobolink Partners of the Serra do Cigano and Boa Vista Valley Projects.

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Olhe que bonito as mulheres semeando as sementes de capim no meio do milho do Varjão, novo pasto do Pedro!

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Clique aqui para ler a matéria completa da Folha de São Paulo

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Click here to watch the video.

#PARAONDEVAMOS?

Ilumina une os maiores nomes da música clássica com os mais promissores jovens talentos do América do Sul num festival de imersão. Estimulamos o inesperado numa série de concertos de câmara, ajudamos uma nova geração a buscar seu futuro, e alimentamos um sentimento de generosidade entre artistas e comunidades.

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O Festival 2018

Ilumina Festival 2018 acontecerá entre 7 e 14 de janeiro, levando a música clássica ao interior de São Paulo e à capital, com concertos e eventos no MASP dos dias 12 a 14.

Para maiores informações click aqui.
 

Ensaio

Concerto Comunitário

Matéria em Emissora Local

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Por Alberto Abreu Machado e Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza.

Alberto Abreu Machado Vai dar o Curso de Astronomia para iniciantes. Veja o programa abaixo:

PANC - Plantas Alimenticias Não Convencionais

Frutos, frutas, folhas, flores, rizomas, sementes e outras estruturas ou partes das plantas que podem ser consumidas pelo homem, tanto “in natura” e/ou após algum tipo de preparo culinário.

João Pereira Lima Neto vai preparar alimentos com PLANC e falar sobre esta importante tendência em nutrição e saúde.

 

Conteúdo do Curso de Astronomia para Iniciantes

Aula teórica ilustrada com computador e software que simula um planetário, conectado a projetor multimídia.

  1. O início de tudo; o Big Bang
  2. Noção de atração gravitacional
  3. O surgimento de Galáxias, nossa galáxia Via Láctea, Estrelas, o Sol, o sistema solar e o planeta Terra
  4. O surgimento da vida na Terra
  5. Desafios da astronomia atual
  6. Energia/Matéria Escura
  7. Instrumentos astronômicos, pesquisas
  8. Softwares de Astronomia para amadores em smartphones e computadores

Se o céu estiver aberto, faremos observação com um telescópio Meade LX 90 computadorizado que nos permite ver:

  1. A Lua
  2. Outros planetas
  3. Via Láctea
  4. Constelações
  5. Outras galáxias
  6. Aglomerados de estrelas

Bibliografia (muito) recomendada: Astronomia, Guia Ilustrado - Editora Zahar - Autor: Ian Ridpath

 

Programação do Final de Semana

Sexta Feira dia 26 de Maio de 2017

  • Chegada na FAF até as 18:00 ( Para isso a saída de São Paulo teria que ser até as 14:30 ) - São 270 km até Mococa e mais 30 km até a FAF - 3,5 horas
  • 19:00 - Jantar Orgânico com ingredientes da FAF
  • 20:30 - Aula de Astronomia
 

Sábado dia 27 de Maio de 2017

  • 7:00 às 8:00 - Aula de Yoga ou caminhada
  • 8:00 às 10:00 - Café da manhã preparado pela equipe da FAF com ingredientes da fazenda
  • 10:00 - Tour do Café: visita aos terreiros, lavagem e secagem, tulha/armazenagem, trilha do Café Agrofloresta Orgânico Passivo e do Café Consorciado Orgânico Ativo ( 1 hora) , Prova de Café com a Q-Grader Simone
  • 13:00 - Almoço Orgânico PANC preparado pelo mestre João Neto e a equipe da FAF
  • 15:00 - Trilha do Jequitibá ( 1,5 horas ) : visita a uma Mata Atlântica primária com nascentes e um Jequitibá de mais de 1.000 anos, passando por plantações de Café Orgânico Ativo e por açudes ( quem quiser pode nadar )
  • 18:00 - Aula de Astronomia
  • 21:00 - Jantar com ingredientes FAF e da Mãe Natureza, PANC, das fazendas vizinhas
 

Domingo dia 28 de Maio de 2017

  • 7:30 às 8:30 - Aula de Yoga ou caminhada
  • 8:30 às 10:00 - Café da manhã preparado pela equipe da FAF com ingredientes da fazenda
  • 10:00 - Trilha para visita à Fazenda Morro Azul ( 1 hora ida ) - produtora da cachaça Casa do Engenho - (retorno pode ser a pé ou de carro)
  • 13:00 - Almoço com o Porco Caipira da Fazenda Santo Antonio da Água Limpa e diversos ingredientes Orgânicos da FAF e fazendas vizinhasli>
  • 16:00 às 17:00 - Retorno para São Paulo
 

Preço

Preços baseados em acomodações para 2 pessoas por quarto/suite. Grupo de 20 pessoas no máximo.

Valor: R$ 970,00 por pessoa, pelo final de semana completo.

Inclui: Curso de Astronomia; acomodações; 3 refeições Orgânicas completas; 2 lanches ( manhã e tarde ); sucos, cerveja, vinho, cachaça Casa do Engenho; todas as atividades na FAF; 10% de serviço.

Haverá ótima massagista à nossa disposição, sob reserva. Valor não incluido.

 

Informações e inscrição: Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza: info@fafcoffees.com

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A big Thank You to the Blue Bottle team that has been big supporters of our work and our dreams.

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Marcos came to visit Belco a few months ago. Here is the interview we had together when he was here! Marcos, first of all, thank you for visiting us here in Bordeaux! It’s a great opportunity for me to finally come to Bordeaux, this city where wine is so important…. Just like quality coffee! Can you tell us a little …

Clcik here to read more

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From January 2nd to 14th FAF was honored to host the 2017 Ilumina Classical Music Festival. Eight world renowned soloists mentored 18 fellows chosen from the best of Brazil’s young musicians helping the farm reach a new sustainable dimension. The students received master classes during the day and performed free concerts in São José do Rio Pardo, Mococa, Igaraí and also a private performance at the Farm for the employees.

The Ilumina Festival’s Artistic Director is violist Jennifer Stumm from Atlanta, GA. The other soloists mentoring the young musicians were:

  • Tai Murray - USA - Violin,
  • Giovanni Gnocchi - Italy - Cello,
  • Johannes Rostamo - Finland - Cello,
  • Cristian Budu - Brazil - Piano,
  • Pedro Gadelha - Brazil - Double Bass,
  • Andrej Bielow - Ukraine - Violin,
  • Alexandra Soumm - Russia - Violin.
For more information about the Ilumina Festival visit www.iluminafestival.org

FAF Employee Concert:

Free Concert Mococa:

Local News Report:

"Boa tarde Sr. Marcos...segue uma foto que tirei esses dias logo cedo quando cheguei na fazenda...um tucano bem em cima da placa me esperando? Rafael"

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By Jimmy Sherfey - Eater Magazine

Making a radical switch from conventional production to an experimental farm, a quality-minded family living in the land of volume seeks to at once define and solve coffee’s sustainability problem.

In Seattle, at The Event 2015 held by Specialty Coffee Association of America, it was hard to gauge the level of seriousness attendees paid to impending coffee supply issues facing the industry. While many roasters and baristas defined trends, most producers discussed the problems impacting their side of the chain. Stories about quality coffee plants crippled by pathogen, bean prices falling short of the cost of production, and the rising average age of the coffee farmer all met faces of momentary concern.

Marcos Croce is a passionate businessman-turned-farmer eager to talk about the projects on his family’s farm, Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza (FAF), located in the São Paulo state of Brazil. He, too, had dire stories to tell, but much of his talk was tempered by a positive attitude. His friendly demeanor rides along a throaty Brazilian accent, which takes on a certain gravitas when herding a point across.

"Agriculture of the world is fucking up our water," Marcos stated plainly. "Especially the way they do coffee in Brazil. It’s the same way they do corn and soybean in Illinois, Ohio, etc."

The rise of factory farms, to which Marcos alluded, is widely believed to have spurred the decline of numerous insects and animal species by reducing their potential habitats. The Bobolink, for instance, is a migratory bird species which makes an annual six thousand mile journey from North America to South America and back. Its breeding population has suffered substantial decline in the last fifty years for lack of habitat, which is essentially little more than tall grass.

To a conventional farm this might not be of immediate concern, but as the Croce family hopes to elucidate to the coffee world, a farm is a microcosm for the entire planet and therefore must reflect a more diverse ecosystem. "If you go into nature and cut everything to one crop, you create a lot of imbalance," Marcos explained, elaborating with a few of the following facts.

The Mata Atlântica, the rainforest spanning much of Brazil’s coastline, has diminished by 85 percent in five hundred years of human settlement. Deforestation that occurs in mono-culture has caused the decreased rainfall of the recent years to leave São Paulo’s water reservoirs dangerously low. In February they were at just 5 percent.

Brazil produces a third of the world’s coffee, a figure that amounts to over six billion pounds of green coffee every year requiring large scale production.

These are just a few of the reasons Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza decided to address the sustainability problems facing not just Brazil, but the specialty coffee industry as a whole. Even though Brazil produces a third of the world’s coffee, a figure that amounts to over six billion pounds of green coffee every year requiring large scale production.

hrough the practices of their farming collective, FAF is looking at environmental, social and financial incongruities facing the industry and they’re hoping to cultivate solutions through their Bob-O-Link project. A partnership between FAF and other farms who together work to cultivate coffee though sustainable and organic practices.

Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza.

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Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza.

In 2001, Marcos and his wife Silvia acquired a two hundred acre farm which they promptly renamed from "Fazenda Fortaleza" to "Fazenda Ambiental Fortaleza" roughly translated, from Fortress Farm to Environmental Fortress Farm. Previously, the land had been owned by Silvia’s father who had produced ten thousand exportable bags of green coffee to Illy Espresso every year.

Upon taking over the farm, the Croces immediately discontinued the use of agricultural chemicals. Instead they switched to organic growing standards. But the abrupt change to fully organic practices proved drastic. Before Fazenda Fortaleza had made the environment a priority, it had relied on external fertilizers and pesticides to make large-scale production possible on an expansive swath of farmland covering nearly three square miles. As a point of reference, the farm often produced more than a million pounds of coffee annually a figure roughly equivalent to the amount of coffee Blue Bottle sourced from across the world in 2014.

When the Croces began to embrace organic farming methods, they experienced a severe drop in production, which nearly put the farm out of business. Even hired consultants and organic certifiers at the time failed to consider the shock of quitting conventional production cold turkey.

"They switched from conventional to organic in one day," says Marcos and Silvia’s son Felipe, now in charge of the FAF’s coffee production. "You can’t do that. You can’t just take drugs out of a drug addict like that …"

FAF simply didn’t have the amount of naturally-occurring nutrition needed to feed a farm of that size.

"How will you do your compost all the things that you mix to give the food to your plant?" Marcos asks rhetorically. "In conventional farms everything is brought from outside. At FAF, we really have to have permaculture to create those things on the farm."

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After organic production initially failed, the Croces leased a section of the farm to a sugarcane grower in order to climb out of debt. When Silvia returned to the land in 2010, she initiated permaculture by keeping more diverse organic matter on the property. The Croces added more varieties of fruiting plants, more livestock and nitrogen-fixing cover crops which helped nutrients enter and remain in the soil. Since then performance has improved, and in the past few years the farm has proven financially solvent, selling to quality roasters such as Blue Bottle.

Stephen Vick is the green coffee buyer for the San Francisco-based quality pioneer. He explains, "Twenty-five years ago, FAF was just another one of the tens of thousands of farms producing coffee in a commercial, volume-focused way. Now, they are leading by example on how a shift toward quality-focused, organic coffee production and sustainable farming can not only lead to exceptional cup quality and have a net positive environmental impact, but can also manifest into a viable business model."

Through FAF’s Bob-O-Link project, the Croces are working to educate other farmers on environmentally-friendly ways to grow great coffee.

"The primary goal of our Bob-o-link project is help these farmers get better coffee," Felipe says. "Then I can place their coffees in a place like Blue Bottle. But the coffee has to be good. Otherwise they won’t buy it."

FAF’s stewardship of quality and holistic agriculture has garnered a reputation among certain epicurean walks of life looking for insight and a peak into the farm collective’s evolving experiment. Permaculturists, coffee buyers, chefs from São Paulo, and other world-renowned palates have all paid the farm visits.

Tim Wendelboe is one such palate. The World Champion Barista in 2004 and World Champion Taster in 2005, ten years later Wendelboe has turned his name into a taste-making brand comprised of a shop, roastery, and coffee training center in Norway. In addition to sourcing high quality coffees from across the world, he posts an annual transparency report that lists the prices he pays for each coffee with his namesake label. When Wendelboe first visited FAF five years ago, he was pleasantly surprised by the look of the farm but also the quality of coffee is produced.

"You can see all of their coffee and the coffee on their partner farms are more alive," Wendelboe says. "There is more grass in between the coffee trees. There are definitely more [shade] trees on the farm than a conventional coffee plantation would have. If you go to one of the big farms in Cerrado (about two hundred fifty miles north of FAF) you will just see like a desert. It’s just sand and coffee trees."

Partner farm Sitio Canaa.

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Partner farm Sitio Canaa.

FAF now practices both passive and active organic style. Passive organic allows coffee to grow in the forest the way it has for eons. Active organic integrates production of crops such as bananas and oats to improve the soil’s richness and to diversify the farm’s economy. Vick says organic production is the norm from coffee down to the supplementary crops.

Sitio Canaa is one farm which FAF is helping to go green. The FAF crew partnered with farmer João Hamilton to implement shade trees and crop diversity. But Felipe is quick to point out the trick to creating a successful, complete farm moves beyond the mere intention of diversity.

"The challenge is to show that we are going to be more financially sound with this diverse model than just a conventional coffee farm," He says. "It’s massive because you’re now working with several different products, and you have to be good at them."

In the spirit of quality assurance, FAF set up a lab in the west side of São Paulo, a hip section of Brazil’s largest city currently experiencing a culinary renaissance. There, Felipe cups all FAF coffees, including those sold through his boutique brand Isso é Café ("This is Coffee" in Portuguese), which aims to expand Brazil’s market for quality beans. The term "cupping" refers to the practice of coffee graders and buyers assigning a score out of 100 to a coffee based on its value and potential (85 being the threshold for high quality).

Felipe also works with some of the best chefs in São Paulo, not only roasting high quality coffee for restaurants, but providing them with other fruits from the farms. Recently, one of FAF’s botanically-inclined partners identified a prevalent weed on the farm for its piquant properties.

"I basically harvested this brush and drove it back to the city, straight to Epice, this is a one-star Michelin restaurant in São Paulo," Felipe says. "I called Alberto [Landgraf] and he was like ‘This is amazing I need to use this. I want to cook with it.’ So we’re thinking about a mustard sauce."

This same weed also serves as a good cover crop, fixing nitrogen and keeping moisture in the ground, both of which will improve the coffee tree’s nutrition. As a former student of ecology at Berkeley, Ben Myers, who founded small batch roaster 1000 Faces in Athens, GA in 2005, became fast friends with the Croce family.

"For me, FAF is standalone in its approach to the environment," Myers says. "It’s just the entirety of the place how you sleep there, how meals are prepared, I mean, we cupped honey!" Silvia, who has been keeping bees for 30 years, is now working closely with the nearby university, taking a closer look at the different honeys derived from specific flowers.

FAF's Isso é Café brand of coffee.

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FAF's Isso é Café brand of coffee.

Varietal distinction is another of Myers’ predilections, and he collaborated with FAF to sell a Red & Yellow Microlot sample pack of six 90-gram tins, each holding a different coffee variety, enabling the consumer to taste different flavors in beans. "Felipe always puts on tremendous cuppings for me," Myers says. "I always thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great to provide a little bit of this experience for the consumer?’ It’s so rad to just go through and say ‘Ok that’s what Yellow Catuai tastes like, that’s what Red Catuai tastes like side-by-side.’"

Where most farms in Brazil lump all the coffee into one, drying, bagging, and selling it, FAF invests time and effort in producing clean, uniform coffees that stand out in Brazil—a coffee origin typically known for its standard nutty, chocolate profile.

"Stone fruit, blackberry, grapefruit," Vick says. "These are flavors that are often associated with Kenyan or Ethiopian coffees, but we often taste these flavors in coffees from FAF and the farms with which the Croces work"

All of the coffee pros working with FAF highlight the operation’s attention to detail during the processing stage. Even Wendelboe arguably the spearhead for the Nordic style of coffee roasting and extraction which puts a premium on bright, floral, tea-like coffees—takes a liking to their beans.

"I’m not a huge fan of natural processed coffees, but FAF seems to have very clean ones that didn’t taste too fermenty and don’t have that aggressive fruit flavor that a lot of the naturals have," Wendelboe says. "They are drying partly in shade, so the coffees are drying much slower and don’t over-ferment as easily."

"Labels and certifications are a bit of a struggle for me personally as the messaging tends to become skewed by the time it reaches the consumer. - Stephen Vick, Blue Bottle"

In Brazil, because labor costs are much higher than other origins, coffee from a given lot must be harvested all at once, resulting in cherries picked at different levels of ripeness. A quality-minded farm in Brazil will use machines to separate these ripeness levels into uniform lots; this way coffee cherries at varying degrees of moisture aren’t dried together, which would result in less than optimal flavors in the roasted bean.

This processing machinery can be hugely important when it’s time to pick the fruit, and the farm’s small but skilled crew needs to focus energy on harvesting, drying and bagging coffee. People working on FAF’s eco-tourism projects, or producing quality fruits and cheese throughout the year, focus all efforts on coffee, and neighboring farmers apart of the FAF collective help one another too.

It’s an unconventional model, to be sure, but in many ways provides a local solution to the social sustainability problem currently looming over the wider industry.

"Honestly, comparing Brazil to other producing regions, when I see A Film About Coffee and all these importers’ films about how coffee is done in Central America and Africa, to me that’s slavery," Felipe says. "Coffee in Rwanda, Burundi they’ve got like six hundred people on a patio. They just have women picking out defects. [Manual laborers] have got to be making nothing in order to make the numbers work."

Many in the industry believe trade labels don’t do enough to effect change or their full meaning can be difficult to convey to the consumer. "Labels and certifications are a bit of a struggle for me personally as the messaging tends to become skewed by the time it reaches the consumer," Vick explains.

Those dissatisfied with Fair Trade USA argue that the price gained might not exceed the cost of production for a given area, nor does it encourage quality production. Organic can come at a hefty cost with out a guarantee that the coffee will be sold at its intended premium. Even in the case of biodynamic certifications, requirements drafted by organizations based in the global North are not always sensitive to the conditions of a tropical farm.

"I don’t really think standardization in coffee works," Wendelboe says. "Every farm has different needs. Every biological ecosystem has different needs. It’s really hard to say you should do things according to a certain recipe. That might not be sustainable in one place where it might be in others … For me the quality of a coffee is related to growing sustainably. If you’re constantly using weed killers and pesticides, then your [coffee] tree will suffer more and more the quality will always go down."

At the end of the day, a farm that banks on quality must not only focus on the task at hand, but should also plan for the future if it truly wants to sustain itself. Says Felipe, "We want to plant today and we want the farm to be producing a hundred years from now."

By Amanda Froelich

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Bees’ importance to the planet cannot be overstated. The tiny, bumbling bee is responsible for pollinating one-sixth of flowering plants in the world, and also about 400 different types of agricultural plants. In fact, it is estimated that just last year, the honey-producing pollinators helped provide over $19 billion worth of agricultural crops with their pollination services. Globally, they are responsible for helping to create a $300 billion revenue.

Just based on those facts alone, it’s pretty clear that bees are important and need to be preserved: not just because they help keep the food chain flowering and producing food, but because they are a hard-working, selfless species that are incremental to the sustainability and the future of this earth.

But as has been shown multiple times in recent years - and in Ontario, Canada - certain agricultural methods which are far from sustainable are causing bee populations to decrease.

According to beekeeper Dave Schuit, who produces honey in Elmwood, Canada, he and his farm lost about 37 million bees (about 600 hives) once GMO corn started to get planted in the nearby area. “Once the corn started to get planted our bees died by the millions,” Schuit said.*

He and other beekeepers are blaming neonicotinoids, or “neonics” for the death of many of their bees. Although Europe has eliminated the use of neonicotinoid class of pesticides from its market, the USDA still hasn’t banned the chemical presently produced by Bayer CropScience Inc.

The reason pesticides containing neonicotinoids are banned in other countries is because they contaminate pollen and nectar, which in effect damages and kills insects like the bees. Two of Bayer CropScience’s most popular pesticides containing neonics include Imidacloprid and Clothianidin. These drugs continue to be marketed, even though they have been linked with many large-scale bee ‘die-offs’ in both European and U.S. countries.

According to Nathan Carey, another local farmer near Ontario, Canada, he noticed the past spring that there weren’t enough bees, and he believes this is due to a strong correlation between the death of bees and the insecticide use.

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However, as Snopes* was quick to point out, the GMO crops themselves remain ’unproven’ to be the cause of colony collapse. What is more likely, according to the site, is that "the neonicotinoid pesticides are coating corn seeds, and with the use of new air seeders, are blowing pesticide dust into the air when planted." Either way, it is due to unsustainable farming methods that bees are dying in rapid numbers.

Worldwide, bees are in decline; but when a little common sense is applied, it doesn’t seem like too much of a mystery. When scientists tested samples of bees, wax, and pollen, the found presence of 121 pesticides. Such finding lends credence to the theory that pesticides are contributing to CCD. “We believe that some subtle interactions between nutrition, pesticide exposure, and other stressors are converging to kill colonies,” said Jeffery Pettis, of the ARS’s bee research laboratory.

Another study found that neonicotinoid pesticides kill bees by damaging their immune system which makes them unable to fight disease. After a large loss of bees, Imadacloprid has been banned for the use of sunflowers and corn in Canda, but will it be enough to help revive bee populations?

Slowly, countries around the world are waking up to the danger of neonicotinoids. France has now rejected Bayer’s application for Clothianidin, and Italy has banned certain neonicotinoids as well. The European Union has also banned a list of pesticides, while the United States has yet to follow suit, however.

What is clear is that something must be done to help preserve and revive the bee population worldwide before it is too late.

Sources: Snopes Truth-Out

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Los hermanos Celso y Silvio Minussi pudieron cumplir su sueño de producir "cafés especiales" en armonía con la naturaleza, y de una forma económicamente sostenible.

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