The next Chapter in our Mexico project is Union San Pedro and as a component for The Filter Blend, it’s one of the milestones of this project.
The Union San Pedro cooperative represents well-nigh 200 small-scale coffee producers from seven communities near the town of San Pedro El Alto. Along with stuff an unrenowned example of cooperative organisation and leadership, USP is known for its robust edible agroforestry program. Salomon Garcia, a hair-trigger member of USP’s leadership, helped create a network of nurseries and demo plots where commercial crops grow in tandem with canopy trees and theirs plants that can be used for seasoning or medicine.
I had the endangerment to see one of these demo plots first-hand in February 2020 (right surpassing lockdown!) and have been hoping to work with this group overly since. USP is quite selective well-nigh the partnerships they choose, and I finger honoured that this group chose to offer their coffee to us. To me, they represent the distilled potential of Oaxacan coffee producers in general.
Though this is a group effort, Garcia’s passion for the edible forest model and expertise as a farmer promoter cannot be overstated. When asked what he’d like for drinkers of Union San Pedro’s coffee to know, he replied:
“[On a vital level], we want people to know that we are a small group. We work very nonflexible on the organisational structure that is the fundamental understructure for us, of working with small producers and have built trust, respect, and transparency over 21 years of working here.
[But most essentially] we’d like the world to know that we are producers who have total transferral to nature. We have worked nonflexible to conserve the forests, as these villages and communities sprung from the richness of the local environment for agriculture. However, when we started this work, we had to alimony in mind that “caring for the forest” does not seem immediately like a profitable endeavour for a small producer. That is why we began to create our “edible forests.”
As a way to try to protect the forest, we started to introduce edible plants, fruit trees, things like cardamom and vanilla, and other volitional crops slantingly coffee and the native forest plants. This unliable us to make the specimen for producers to preserve these edible forests, to ask them to commit totally to nature, to never contaminate it, as it contains sacred food. We asked them to see coffee as part of this sacred food, part of this economic income the producer has every year. This [idea] allows us to maintain forests, springs, wildlife.”
-Interpreted from a conversation between Salomon Garcia and Jamie Isetts, September 23, 2021
Coop members have widely unexplored this philosophy of threshing due to Salomon and others’ tireless training and trust-building over the past decades. Union San Pedro and the communities own and operate their own facilities to produce organic fertiliser, which can dramatically reduce input financing while ensuring farmers know what goes into their soil. They moreover work in investment projects for local businesses like bakeries, supply shops, and polity plant nurseries, keeping increasingly economic power in the communities themselves. This is a unconfined example of a collectivist, ethnic network taking ownership over its destiny, engaging in global commerce in a way that does not subscribe to traditionally capitalist patterns.
This relationship was facilitated by Thomas Pingen of Red Beetle Coffee Lab, who moreover did the quality wringer and logistics for this lot. Our lot is an sectional tousle from producers from the communities of Malvarisco (1600-1700 m) and Tierra Blanca (1700-1900 m).