We started Project Alianza, a Boston-based nonprofit organization because it is the most useful way we could help an urgent situation.
Often times when we think of local food, we think of farmers’ markets, or the dilemma of buying a local versus conventional apple.
Few people will think of coffee.
And yet one of the main arguments for buying locally produced food — support for family farmers and local economies — applies even to a global commodity like coffee.
Nearly 75% percent of the world’s coffee is produced by small farmers in the developing world who cultivate the bean on farms less than 5 acres in size. Millions of these farmers also live in highly vulnerable conditions. Many farming families require their children stay home from school to help tend the land or ration food between harvests in a phenomenon referred to in Central America as “los meses flacoI s,” or the thin months.
Project Alianza is a development project that supports coffee farmers by providing agricultural education and access to secure, ethical supply chains. We help the most vulnerable farmers – those who do not have access to other programs (like Fair Trade), due to geographic isolation or inability to produce sufficient quantities of coffee.
We accomplish this by building partnerships between those who remain most vulnerable and well-established farms in close proximity. Currently, we are piloting the project with a medium-sized family-owned coffee farm in Nicaragua with Rain Forest Alliance Certification. In 2014, Alianza will elevate the role of 25 small coffee producers in Nicaragua and once we’ve established a sustainable framework, we will scale and build partnerships with other farms.
Project Alianza is a socio-economic model that improves community collaboration and catalyzes the changes we require in the long-term.