Our very own David Kelly, Grocery Supervisor and long time Co-op staffer was recently invited to travel to Peru to visit Equal Exchange coffee and cacao farmers. David was one of only six people from across the country invited on this trip and we are grateful for his generosity in sharing what he's learned. David took over 500 photos on his trip. He's chosen just a few to share with us. Thanks David!
It's a 2 1/2 hour hike up the mountain to Leslie's cacao farm. Heavy rains render the roads impassable for vehicles, so farmers carry supplies up and harvests down the mountain on foot. The farm is simple, with no running water. Being a part of the cooperative has allowed Leslie to earn enough so his family could move into town where his children can attend school.
Cacao begins as a flower with tiny pods that grow to be as large as 6-10 inches in length. This variety has a bright red skin with 30-40 beans inside. The white flesh surrounding the beans is edible.
After the cacao beans are carried down the mountain, they come to this processing facility where they're dried, fermented and packaged for export.
The sign, which hangs in the facility assures that everyone is welcome "If you're different, it's no problem." Male, female, native, handicap, gay, white, or brown.
Beyond pictures and stories, what David brought home from his trip is a profound sense of how interconnected we are, from the shoppers & cashiers, co-op staff who stock the shelves & do the ordering, to the folks at Equal Exchange and the farmers and their families half a world away whose lives have been drastically improved by the cooperatives within which they work.