Every time I’m in the mountains of Haiti, something special happens. Maybe more than one “something special” takes place, as happened on this Haitian coffee sourcing trip.
The relationships run deep now with Haitian coffee farmers, we have been working in the Belle Anse district for years. It’s incredibly difficult to reach the towns where we partner with farmers who we also stay with once we arrive. We are always rewarded with a meal consisting of rice and beans, maybe some chicken or goat.
As happens every time we enter a Creole Garden, the beauty captivates me. There is a total sense of peace as one walks with a farmer under the canopy of grapefruit trees, ducking banana tree leaves, and brushing up against the Arabica Typica coffee plants.
As we reach a clearing you can see the mountain tops rolling down into the southern coast, as the sky disappears into the ocean. I turn to look at the Haitian coffee farmer whom we are standing with, survey his garden, and realize he is more than a coffee farmer, he is a curator of beauty.
That beauty has been damaged by hurricane Matthew. Although the area we work in has fared better than the southwest of Haiti, there was still damage. The best coffee we have ever brought in, what we call Belle Jaden, comes from a farm owned by Mr. Alisme. When we visited with him, we inquired about his harvest volume. Our handler laughed at Mr Alisme response, “he says he has only one sack”, that’s just 150 pounds, down 90% from last year.
During this trip we made the decision to invest our resources into two farm regeneration projects, to help farmers increase production dramatically, and ensure consistent supply for our coffees for decades to come through our direct trade relationships. We are also providing training to help farmers learn the best techniques to maintain and improve their farms.
For now we will have to change our online store to “out of stock” while we address their issues with them and wait for harvest to finish so that we can import our precious Haitian coffee. Our confidence remains in the resilience of the Haitian farmer. We are thankful they have been given the responsibility as curators of beauty over the Creole Gardens.