The following is part of a series of Coffee Buying Impact reports written by our Director of Coffee, Jessica Sheridan. Our goal in publishing these reports is to articulate for our employees, partners, and guests the global impact we can have through Farm To Cup coffee sourcing and purchasing.
As a coffee buyer, some origins are more difficult to source from than others. A lack of geographic proximity to coffee-producing countries certainly plays a role in creating complexity. Tangentially, the renaissance of the ‘local’ movement that has become so popular is demonstrative of both the desire for fresh, locally sourced products and a yearning to return to what we often refer to here in Wisconsin as ‘hobby’ farming (small-scale farming on properties that are often adjacent to homes and less than a few acres in size). However, when coffee is sourced from tropical climates and you live in Wisconsin, this presents itself with a problem when you consider what is ‘local’ to you. And yet, even thousands of miles and oceans apart, you can create and facilitate relationships that celebrate both seasonality and small-scale farming. Our relationship with Long Miles Coffee Project in Burundi does just that–celebrates the beauty of fresh, Burundian coffee, as well as the importance of small-scale farming.
The Carlson family moved to Burundi in 2011 to pursue their dream of creating social and economic transformation by facilitating healthy relationships between coffee roasters and coffee growers. Since moving to Burundi, what the Carlson’s have achieved in partnership with local farmers is truly remarkable. We have been lucky to partner with Long Miles Coffee Project since 2015, and are continually impressed with the product they deliver, especially considering the volume we purchase from them (2 shipping containers, each filled with 320 bags that are about 132lbs/bag–over 42,000lbs in total).
The volume of quality coffee we purchase from Long Miles is an important aspect of the impact of this relationship. Small-scale Burndian coffee producers, whose farms are often just a hectare (about 2.47 acres) or less or less in size, are able to secure a stable, premium income for their coffee cherry by selling their crop through the Long Miles Project. By purchasing two containers of coffee from Long Miles each year, we guarantee demand for many Long Miles producer’s coffee. While this mutually beneficial relationship is one that we plan to continue in perpetuity, the reasons for excitement don’t just stop at the coffee.
Long Miles also facilitates a number of social and environmental initiatives that are in line with Stone Creek’s overall mission of social responsibility. One of the social programs that Long Miles facilitates is called their Scout program. Scouts are trained by the Long Miles team as junior-agronomists who not only help identify potential producers, but also help support producers that currently work with Long Miles with agronomic advice to improve their farming practices. An environmental program that the Long Miles team is working on is a reforestation effort of the Kibira forest. This is a 30-year non-profit project that is being worked on in partnership with over 3,000 families in Burundi. Since starting the project over a few years ago, over 3,000 trees per year have been planted, and in the fall of 2018 alone, 60,000 tree seedlings were placed in sacks to germinate. Not only will this project help reforest the Kibira forest, but it will also help increase the biodiversity on the land of many of the producers Long Miles works with. We look forward to seeing growth from Long Miles as they pursue these types of programs.