Help Build Stronger Coffee Communities
By Bambi Semroc, Vice President, Sustainable Markets and Strategy for Conservation International and leader of the Sustainable Coffee Challenge
Trees get old. They get sick. They die. And it’s up to us to replant them.
I grew up alongside two beautiful, mature and statuesque maple trees in the back yard. My parents saved those trees when they built our house. Dad said you don’t cut down old trees because it takes too long to grow another one. I watched showers of helicopter seeds fall in the spring. I raked their leaves and jumped in huge piles every fall with my brother. We mulched and planted flowers around them. Those trees are still standing, but my dad is not. I have long-since moved away and so has my brother. My mom now cares for those trees on her own. Last month she called with the sad news that she has to remove one because it is dying. I can’t imagine that tree not being there, and I wonder what tree we will plant to replace it.
The future of coffee depends on trees
Farmers plant and manage the coffee trees that become your cup of coffee each day. They rely on these trees for their income and their livelihoods. Caring for coffee trees means pruning, mulching, weeding, fertilizing and protecting them from pests and diseases. Some coffee trees succumb to disease outbreaks, and others grow old and produce less coffee. When this happens farmers must remove the tree and replant with new, stronger stock. In some cases, coffee farmers are replacing trees their parents and grandparents planted. In replanting farmers are investing in their future and that of the next generation.
Coffee farmers manage many trees besides coffee. Coffee trees grow naturally grow under taller shade trees that protect them against high temperatures and heavy rainfall. Tall rows of trees planted in the right direction protect coffee from strong winds, and patches of natural forests provide natural disease and pest controls.
Replanting is an investment in future generations.
It’s hard to tear out trees and replant – physically and emotionally. If you have ever planted a tree, you know that it’s hard work and that the young trees don’t always survive. My parents planted trees to celebrate the births of my brother and me…I don’t think either survived.
Trees sustain the future of coffee and planting them is a risky endeavor. A coffee tree won’t produce a full harvest until it is at least three years old. By supporting farmers in replanting coffee trees, we help ensure a future supply of coffee. By supporting their efforts to plant native trees on their farms, we also help protect coffee from the impacts of climate change and enable coffee to live in harmony with nature.
Join us in supporting farmers to replant and sustain coffee
Please join us in supporting the efforts of coffee farmers in Peru, Honduras and Colombia to replant coffee and native forest trees. It takes many trees to create a coffee farm, many varieties of trees to form a forest, and many individuals like you to form a community and spark a movement. Starting on Coffee Days, you can show your support to coffee farmers by donating to the Save Coffee, Support Farmers and Conserve Nature campaign.
It’s amazing to think that the fruit from a small tropical tree has become the way we wake up and get energized in the morning. That it is has the power to gather people together to meet, connect and build community. Let’s show our collective support to coffee farmers in their efforts to replant the coffee and forest trees that supply our coffee and fuel our days for years to come.
Bambi Semroc is the Vice President of Sustainable Markets and Strategy for Conservation International’s Center for Environmental Leadership in Business. In this role, she leads the Sustainable Coffee Challenge, an industry-wide effort led by Conservation International to make coffee the first sustainable agricultural product in the world.