The forests and farms from which coffee, cocoa, and avocados come from—how do we picture them? The remote corners of Central and South America come to mind where lush, vibrant green farmlands are dwarfed by mountain valleys. Coffee and cocoa trees look tiny in comparison; they dot the landscape like uniform soldiers waiting for their orders. The avocados of northern Colombia, whose trees drink the sweet rain, grow fat and round like green water droplets. These are the farms we imagine, but climate change has changed all of this.
Pantropical landscapes are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Severe drought dries up the soil and chokes crops; intense flooding devastates farmlands in coastal regions, in addition to eroding soil, polluting waterways, and damaging highways and roads used to transport food.
Temperatures fluctuate to both extremes from very cold to very hot, and while some native species cannot adapt quickly enough, others thrive. Rising temperatures can help invasive insects and other pests digest food and demolish crops much faster. To fight them off, farmers must switch to harsher and more toxic pesticides sprayed over crops. However, these dangerous chemicals contaminate waterways and soil, damaging crops and communities elsewhere.
At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions leave holes in our planet’s ozone layer, a natural barrier in our atmosphere that absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun. As the ozone weakens, excess radiation damages the cells in crops and other plants. Farmers are also left unprotected as it can damage their skin and eye health.
A bottom-up approach—from grassroots to canopy—for climate resilient agriculture
Coffee and cocoa farms that run on clean, renewable energy are our solution. We develop farms that are self-sustaining, good for the environment, and will grow better, healthier crops for years to come.
At each farming community cluster, we build an Eco-Industrial Farmhouse which processes raw materials while re-purposing leftover byproducts as biofuels. Fortunately, coffee bean processing generates loads of leftover pulp. Rich in antioxidants and fiber, coffee pulp can be composted and made into an excellent fertilizer. Over time, this increases yields and adds minerals to the soil. The results are value-added, organically grown commodities that are eligible for Fair Trade labeling.
To fuel Eco-Industrial Farmhouses, we install solar panels to power water pump irrigation systems, Coffee Drying Silos, and roasting machines. American Coffee Roaster Josh Helmuth joins us in this venture, sharing with us his open source designs for a coffee roaster that relies on burning coffee husk for fuel. To run the silos, we use small hydro, a system that uses a turbine, pump, or waterwheel to transform energy from flowing water into rotational energy, which is then converted into electricity.