The scientific evidence continues to accumulate, telling us that restoring forests and farmlands is one of the most effective ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere – not just reduce carbon emissions, but actually reverse them! The carbon is captured and stored in the organic matter of fertile soil as well as in the living vegetation that grows in that soil. So while we work to end deforestation in the Amazon basin, we can also look to the work of nearby Cloud Forest Coffee Farms as a model, a living laboratory, for repairing the damage. For the past twenty years, Cloud Forest Coffee Farms’ Brian Krohnke has been restoring and preserving forests in the Andes Mountains in Northwest Ecuador. He is among the founders of the Mindo Cloudforest Foundation and has led many reforestation efforts. He has also worked as a coffee grower, roaster, and exporter. As you may know, the best coffee is often grown in the shade, where a slower ripening process allows the beans to develop a more nuanced flavor profile. So, in 2010, Brian combined his two interests to create Cloud Forest Coffee Farms, an alliance of private nature reserves that supports reforestation by cultivating coffee in the shade of replanted forest canopy. With proper management and respect for the environment, these restored lands are regenerating the natural ecosystems while also fueling the growth of a local, sustainable economy.
Cloud Forest Coffee Farms shows that the living forest can create a stronger economy than cleared forest lands. It’s a model for restoring a damaged ecosystem, creating sustainable jobs, and building a thriving economy in the ashes of an environment damaged by thoughtless “development.” How do we know it’s working? Honestly, it will take decades to fully restore the biodiverse ecosystems that once flourished here, but already we have some evidence. Birds and other wildlife are returning in growing numbers. The soil, eroded by ill-conceived cattle ranching, is building a layer of organic matter, increasing its fertility and its carbon sequestering capacity. And our coffee, grown in the shade at 6,000-feet elevation, right on the equator, is everything you could want in a premium coffee. There is a method in our madness. We prefer to restore lands adjacent to or near forest preserves or other tracts that have been left undisturbed. As we plant trees, the vegetation and animal life from the preserves naturally spreads to the adjacent reforested parcel. For this reason, we are incredibly happy to welcome the newest partner in our alliance, the Alambi Nature Reserve. Also, we welcome new project partners Mario and Rhonda Ugoletti from the US. We´re excited that they are now on board. As our alliance grows, so do its operations, requiring more sophisticated equipment and infrastructure to manage our growing harvests. Today, we are launching an Indiegogo fund-raising campaign to help us build a biodigestor and continue expanding our wonderful agro-forestry alliance. What is a biodigestor? Honestly, it’s a very boring piece of equipment that accomplishes several wonderful jobs for the farm. A biodigestor is a very large, sophisticated composter for the pulp of the coffee fruit. Coffee beans are the stone that grows at the center of the coffee cherry. For every pound of beans we harvest, we remove and discard about five pounds of coffee cherry fruit pulp. The biodigestor will allow us to compost the pulp effectively, providing several benefits. We can capture the CO2 and methane that are released as the pulp decomposes. We’ll use the methane for fuel, reducing our farm’s greenhouse gas emissions and saving money on fuel. And the composted pulp becomes a valuable addition to the soil, helping us restore organic matter, sequester carbon, and increase the fertility of our soil. Our world needs more projects like Cloud Forest Coffee Farms, lots of them. It’s a living laboratory leading the way toward an economy that creates more value by restoring the environment than by tearing it apart. It’s a project that is quite real and already successful. Your help today will enable Brian and his partners to continue growing this amazing forest-farm.
Please click on either of the bats to offer your support – at most contribution levels, you’ll receive a package of Cloud Forest Coffee Farms coffee beans – so you’ll literally be able to taste the fruits of your investment!