Juan Francisco is a small coffee farmer in Nicaragua who is a member of UCPCO, one of our larger suppliers of Fair Trade Organic Coffee. He wrote a nice letter (below) about how his life has changed since he started selling his coffee at Fair Trade prices. The blue sheets below are his scanned letter with a translation courtesy of Sustainable Harvest, the folks who import this coffee from UCPCO and then sell it to us. We buy hundreds of thousands of fair trade organic pounds from UCPCO – great coffees destined for McDonalds restaurants in New England and Newman's Own Coffees in 10/12 bags and Newman's Own K Cups. If you buy some of this coffee, you might be drinking Juan's very own coffee. Or, at the very least, you'll be supporting a coop that's making a huge difference in people's lives. Do you have something to say to Juan? Post a comment below and we'll translate it and pile it up with letters from our own employees and mail to Juan via UCPCO.
The Story of Juan Francisco Valladarez
In the year 2000, I first harvested coffee from land that I owned. I was not organized as a member of any cooperative and I had no resources. At that time, there was a lot of robbery of coffee parchment, so every night after depulping my coffee, I slept in the field under the cover of a few pieces of plastic to protect me from the rain. I woke early, when it was still dark, to harvest the little coffee that I could each day. Then, I would carry the bags of parchment out on my shoulder up the hill and to the nearest town to sell them.
In 2004, an extension agent from the co-op UCPCO came to my farm to ask me if I wanted to join the cooperative. He invited me to a two-day training session. I went and I liked what the cooperative offered. I told him that I wanted to be organized, to become a member... Thanks to the team of field workers at the cooperative, my yield has improved with the organic fertilizers that they taught me to make. With their support, I have built a small wet milling area on my farm equipped with a hand depulper, a tube for pumping water to the washing tank, a drying area, a barrel, a large bucket, and a spray pump.
I also have a fair, international market that pays me a good price for my coffee, which is what helps me improve the lives of my family. With UCPCO and the umbrella organization Café Nica, I have also had the chance to cup samples of my own coffee.
I write to you,
Juan Francisco Valladarez Gonzales, and my wife Maria Luisa Landero, and children Francisco, Karla, Marvin, Milton, Karen, Melva, Nelson, and Lilian.