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Photo: Dean’s Beans
Dean’s Beans and Peru’s Pangoa co-op offer coffee that’s carbon neutral.

I really love Dean’s Beans, and you’ve heard me talk about the company before. Not only do they have a delicious array of coffee beans from around the world and ship your order fast, but their nonprofit mission is a really big deal to them. They help the communities where they buy beans become increasingly self-sufficient, and they work to protect the environment.

An email that Dean sent out for Earth Day highlights one coffee that I buy in the French Roast decaffeinated version.

He wrote, “First, we want to extend our best wishes for health and safety to you during this time of COVID-19. Even though our beanery has (fortunately!) remained open, our new normal – masks, social distancing, split shifts, constant vigilance – is taking some getting used to. But we’re doing the best we can to take care of each other.

“Today, on the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day, it is important to us that we still celebrate, and send some hope and positivity your way.

“So, let’s talk about our Carbon Neutral Coffee! You might remember this coffee better as ‘NoCO2,’ but this newly rebranded and re-named coffee is the same sweet, smooth Peruvian launched back in 2007 as the World’s First Carbon Neutral Coffee. The coffee was part of a massive reforestation program at Pangoa Cooperative in Peru. The goal? To offset all the carbon emitted throughout the entire supply chain from this coffee — from seed to cup!

“We calculated the entire carbon load from planting to drinking our Peruvian coffee, and neutralized it with native hardwood plantings. One tree planted for every 17 pounds of Peruvian coffee sold – enough to sequester 50 pounds of CO2 annually per tree! Fast forward almost 15 years — after 350,000 trees planted, this program has not only offset the entire output all Peruvian coffee sold, but all our coffees put together! We realized this unique reforestation program makes us a totally carbon negative company!

“The Pangoa Cooperative reforestation efforts don’t stop at carbon sequestration! Turns out, planting native hardwoods makes for superb migratory bird habitat. So, in 2016, we partnered with the coop and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center to help Pangoa obtain official SMBC Bird-Friendly certification for their coffee (it would bring the coop an additional premium for the coffee as well!) …

“To take care of each other is to take care of the Earth. If you’ve been following us on social media, you may have seen our COVID initiatives to help bolster our community and look out for one another. Between thousands of tin ties for DIY masks, coffee donations and support for school meal programs, we’re continually looking for ways to help. We’re in this together.” More here.

A 2016 post I wrote about Dean’s Beans is here. And here’s one describing how Dean’s Beans is supporting health care for Mayan women. If you want to know more about the Peruvian reforestation efforts that provide families with some extra income while protecting the birds, check this post from 2017.

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Photo: Jorge de la Quintana
A ballerina admired impoverished acrobats performing at Lima, Peru, traffic lights and decided to offer them a better opportunity. In the photo, members of her D1 Dance Company rehearse.

Once upon a time, a privileged young lady, a ballerina with an international reputation, saw the face of aspirational poverty on acrobats performing in traffic and decided to offer them an opportunity.

Dan Collyns writes at the Guardian, “Vania Masías vividly remembers the first time she saw acrobats somersaulting at a traffic light on a visit to her home city in 2004. She was at the peak of an illustrious career as a ballet dancer in Europe – but before long, she would leave it all behind it to nurture the raw talent she found in the streets of the Peruvian capital. …

“She was so inspired by the abilities of the teenage acrobats she encountered in Lima she set up a pilot project to teach them to dance – not ballet, but hip-hop. …

“It began on the self-taught gymnasts’ home turf in Ventanilla, a tough neighbourhood near the city’s port. Masías arranged to meet them on the shanty’s sand dunes where they practised their flips. The response was overwhelming.

“ ‘I thought I was going to meet with three kids,’ she said. ‘When I arrived, there were more than a hundred kids.’ …

“In 2005 Masías formed the D1 Cultural Association: part dance school, part non-profit organisation seeking to create young leaders and promote positive social change through the arts.

“D1’s social arm, which is 85% self-sufficient thanks to the school’s private classes, works with 7,000 children and young people in the capital and has schools in the Peruvian cities of Ica and Trujillo. More than 100,000 children have passed through the programme over the years, says Masías.

“Among them is Eddy Revilla, who at 13 became his family’s breadwinner somersaulting at traffics lights in downtown Lima.

“ ‘I was earning 300 soles a week [£66/$92] and here in Peru – that’s money! I could help my family and they started to thank me,’ says Revilla, now 25.

“But after blacking out in mid-air doing a somersault, Revilla auditioned for D1, and is now a member of the group’s professional dance company.

“ ‘When we started nobody thought that you could make a living from dance. Now it’s an amazing opportunity for young people,’ says Revilla, who also teaches hip-hop to paying students at D1’s dance studio. …

“Masías acknowledges that only a few of the young students will eventually follow a career in dance, but she says that the act of dancing itself gives them the confidence to transform their circumstances. …

“Masías has encouraged her dancers to embrace their provincial roots through fusing traditional Peruvian and urban styles.

“ ‘It’s in their blood, in their veins,’ she says. Dancers who had been ashamed of their origins ‘now fight to say where they come from,’ she says.”

More at the Guardian, here.

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esperanza_walking_small

Photo: Dean’s Beans
A visit to growers in Peru.

A friend on the commuter train got me into buying the very delicious coffee of Dean’s Beans a couple years ago.

I was initially intrigued by the idea that you could create a special blend and name it for somebody as a gift. But I soon learned there was even more to admire about the way Dean and his company are raising the living standards of the farmers they work with in poor countries.

A recent email newsletter from Dean shows what I mean.

“Each visit to our farmer partners is an amazing experience. Sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but always both a learning experience and a chance to go deeper into our quest to bring positive change to the world. My recent muddy, buggy, flood and storm delayed trip to Pangoa Coop on the slopes of the Peruvian Amazon was no exception. (Facebook photo album here!)

“Our 13 year-long reforestation project has resulted in huge forest tracts and more income for the farm families of Pangoa. Walking amongst the bird-filled, mixed-story forests towering over the coffee plants on the farms of Avelino, Rodrigo and Sabino, I am so humbled and thrilled to see where the farmers have gone with a little help from their friends.

“They have started in their nursery, planted and grown over thirty thousand hardwood trees through the program, and we are looking at twenty thousand more in the next two years. Their low-tech, highly productive bokashi composting program has helped farmers resist and overcome the devastation of La Roya (Rust fungus) in recent years. What amazing resilience!

“You can join us on a walk-through of this lush, healthy coffee forest on our Javatrekker YouTube Channel! …

“I have also been talking to Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center about including Pangoa in their Bird Friendly certification program.  We had several community meetings to explain the program. The farmers are totally into it and they will easily pass with flying colors (just look at the toucans and tanagers!). We are now arranging the inspector visits and have agreed to pay all of the administrative costs so that Pangoa can seamlessly integrate Bird Friendly certification into their portfolio of progress.

“Similarly, during meetings with CODEMU, their women’s organization, lots of women shared their success stories as the loan fund we got started ten years ago continues to support these hard working women. …

“Wow, am I blessed to have such a fulfilling and damned fun life!”

More here. Follow Dean on twitter @Deans_Beans.

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Sweet potato evangelism has won the World Food Prize. I learned about this at National Public Radio, which has a regular feature on eating and health called the Salt.

Dan Charles reports, “One summer day in 2012, on a long drive through northern Mozambique, I saw groups of men standing beside the road selling buckets filled with sweet potatoes. My translator and I pulled over to take a closer look. Many of the sweet potatoes, as I’d hoped, were orange inside. In fact, the men had cut off the tips of each root to show off that orange color. It was a selling point. …

“In Africa, that’s unusual and new. Traditionally, sweet potatoes grown in Africa have had white flesh. …

“Those orange-fleshed sweet potatoes along the road that day represented the triumph of a public health campaign to promote these varieties — which, unlike their white-fleshed counterparts, are rich in Vitamin A. [In June], that campaign got some high-level recognition at a ceremony at the U.S. State Department. Four of the main people behind it will receive the 2016 World Food Prize. This prize is billed as the foremost international recognition of efforts to promote a sustainable and nutritious food supply.

“This year’s laureates are Maria Andrade, Robert Mwanga, Jan Low and Howarth (Howdy) Bouis. Three of them — Andrade, Mwanga and Low — worked at the International Potato Center, which is based in Peru, but has satellite operations in Africa. Bouis worked at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C. …

“In recent years, researchers have documented health improvements among villagers in Mozambique and Uganda, simply because they chose to eat sweet potatoes with orange flesh.” More at NPR.

Don’t you love the orange truck? I call that multichannel messaging.

Photo: Dan Charles/NPR
Maria Isabel Andrade is one of four researchers honored with the World Food Prize for promoting sweet potatoes that are orange inside to combat malnutrition.

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According to a feature provided by the Christian Science Monitor, drip-irrigation systems are becoming a boon to regions suffering from persistent drought.

Kizito Makoye writes for Reuters, “Peter Chuwa has long flooded his paddy field using a canal that draws water from the river. These days, however, water is scarcer and growing rice this way is proving hard to sustain. A period of drought set in two years ago, and the abundant water that once helped suppress weeds in his fields and assure him of a crop regardless of rainfall has disappeared, hurting his harvests and his income. …

“Now, however, a drip irrigation system, introduced to help his village deal with worsening drought, is restoring his harvests, building his resilience to erratic weather, and saving time, he says.

” ‘You simply open the tap and leave the kit to supply water to the roots, unlike the traditional system, which takes a lot of time and energy,’ he said.

“Under pressure from drought, the 65-year-old farmer at Kikavu Chini village in Hai district in Tanzania’s northern Kilimanjaro region has switched to crops that need less water, including vegetables, maize, potatoes, and beans. A drip irrigation system, which uses far less water, supplies plenty to grow those crops, he says. …”

Nguluma Mbaga, a Kikavu Chini agricultural field officer, says the technology has come at the right time as farmers try to find ways to cope with worsening drought and other effects of climate change.

” ‘I believe farmers will be in a better position to cope with the changing weather patterns. This village is located in a dry area that does not get adequate rains, so farmers must try to use water wisely,’ he says.”

More here.

Photo: Mariana Bazo/Reuters/File
A farmer cleans prickly pear cacti irrigated with water collected by nets that trap moisture from fog on a hillside in Lima, Peru.

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