Three U.S. coffee companies are kickstarting an effort to raise $20,000 for Finca El Valle, an 85-acre farm in Antigua, Guatemala, that has struggled to survive a leaf rust outbreak that reduced its output from 140,000 pounds in 2013 to 28,400 pounds this year while also dealing with personal hardships.
Green coffee importer Sustainable Harvest announced the fundraising effort at its recent Let’s Talk Coffee event in Panama. San Rafael, Calif.-based Equator Coffees & Teas, and Olympia, Wash. and Atlanta-based Batdorf & Bronson, which has purchased Finca El Valle coffees for the past 14 years, are also leading the charge.
As of this writing, with 16 days remaining, the campaign had raised just over $7,300. If the campaign is successful, the money will be used for various restoration efforts, including replanting, adding shade trees and applying treatments to protect from future outbreaks.
Cristina Gonzalez represents the third generation of women to own Finca El Valle, which she inherited as a teenager from her grandmother in 1978. She, her husband and three sons now run Finca El Valle, which has a reputation for paying fair wages and for training responsible land stewardship. Nearly 20 years ago, Gonzalez made the progressive decision to build a wet mill that uses approximately 80 percent less water than traditional wet mills and diverts used water for irrigation, reflecting her commitment to sustainable resource management.
In addition to the financial hardship caused by leaf rust, Gonzalez and her farm suffered further last year when her son Luis had a heart attack and the farm’s income went to pay hospital bills. Luis recently had a second heart attack.