By Jeff Taylor, Co-Founder and CEO of PT's
In the Beginning: Purpose and Vision
Zipacón con Cundinamarca is a very old and respected coffee growing region not more than ninety minutes from Bogota by car. But the proximity to Bogota—Colombia’s largest city—has also created problems for this region and its aging coffee farmers. The last two generations of children have grown up and found work in the big city, leaving farm work to an aging demographic.
Several years ago, coffee entrepreneurs Felipe and Elise Sardi were looking for land to create a next-generation coffee farm, La Palma y El Tucán, and shatter the status quo. By constructing a wet mill to process coffee for the Neighbors and Crops program, and with a grand vision and plenty of ambition to also add a boutique hotel, their concept was to create a coffee adventure that would help support the farm and the community. Five years ago, when we first visited the farm, it was a bold vision that we could hardly imagine. But it's now in full swing, and thriving.
The program is a sustainable Coffee Relationship Model that helps small-scale farmers produce top quality coffee with traditional Colombian varieties, such as Caturra, Castillo, Colombia, Typica, and Bourbon.
The Sardis have identified more than 200 coffee-growing families located within a 10km radius of the La Palma y El Tucán farm, from whom they buy and process exceptional coffee cherries, while controlling every step of the process.
They employ and train pickers prior to deploying them to the various farms to handle the workload for farm owners. They then pay a price to the farmer for coffee cherry that exceeds the standard throughout Colombia. La Palma brings the perfectly harvested and sorted cherry to their mill for processing in a unique way developed to maximize the flavor qualities of the coffee, and then bring the coffee to market under the Neighbors and Crops program.
Neighbors & Crops
La Palma helps its partners in the program by:
* Paying more than 50% above the country’s average price for coffee cherries.
* Training local cherry pickers in high-quality coffee harvesting methods.
* Donating coffee trees that are raised in the La Palma Y El Tucán nursery.
* Providing organic fertilizers for local families to use on their coffee trees.
Jeff, Maritza, and Phoenix Taylor with a family that is part of the Neighbors & Crops program.
The program is designed to offer the neighboring coffee-growing families various benefits (monetary and otherwise) that help to incentivize them to become an active part of this industry. Together they can commit to the highest quality standards possible, while focusing on innovative practices that protect our ecosystem, our land, our home. Because at the end of the day, farmers are the guardians of the environment.
Neighbors & Crops is designed to revitalize coffee-growing culture in the region. The average grower in the network is over 60 years of age. Coffee’s slow maturation and market volatility discourages younger generations from maintaining legacy farms, oftentimes seeking new opportunity in cities like Bogota.
Doña Dioselina, 84, pictured at top of page, credits La Palma y El Tucán and the Neighbors & Crops program for allowing her to live out her days on the farm, debt-free. She sells her harvest to the N&C program each year and receives a good price for her coffee cherries.
Back in 2013, shortly after La Palma was founded, Jeff was the first visitor to sign the guest book.