When the crisis of Coffee Leaf Rust—also known as Roya—hit the coffee community in late 2012, farms throughout Latin America were impacted by the airborne disease. One of the hardest hit was Finca El Valle, an 85-acre coffee farm in Antigua, Guatemala. Roya spread throughout about 50 acres of El Valle, lowering the farm’s output from 140,000 pounds in the 2013 harvest to 28,400 in 2014.
With the longevity of Finca El Valle in doubt, some of its longtime partners have launched a Kickstarter campaign to save the farm. The key supporters are Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, coffee roaster Batdorf & Bronson—which is in its 15th year of buying El Valle’s coffee—and California-based roaster Equator Coffees & Teas.
The campaign aims to raise $20,000 for restoration efforts at El Valle, including replanting coffee and shade trees and applying protective agricultural treatments.
Finca El Valle
Finca El Valle is owned by Cristina Gonzalez, who is part of the third generation of women to run the farm. In 1978, when she was a teenager, Cristina inherited the farm from her grandmother. While many of her relatives wanted to sell the farm because of the work required to maintain coffee production, Cristina felt she owed it to her grandmother to keep the farm. When she turned 18, she took control of the farm and has fought ever since, with the help of her husband and three sons, to keep the land and continue growing quality coffee.
The Gonzalez family faced adversity last year when Cristina’s son Luis, who helps run the farm, suffered a heart attack, and the family’s funds had to go toward his hospital bills. The family experienced a further setback recently when Luis suffered a second heart attack. Finca El Valle remains in dire shape from the effects of Roya and needs to take immediate action to fight the disease.
Sustainable Harvest, Batdorf & Bronson, and Equator Coffees & Teas announced the Kickstarter project jointly at Let’s Talk Coffee, Sustainable Harvest’s annual supply chain gathering, which took place October 9-12 outside Panama City, Panama. The event gathered together more than 550 stakeholders from throughout the supply chain to build relationships, discuss pressing industry issues, and calibrate as a supply chain.