Where we’re at today
Shipping green beans to Bainbridge in suitcases was a one-time thing. Today, we import a container load each year, in partnership with several other non-profits that have values similar to ours.
We continue to buy coffee from the same farmers. Organized as Cooperativa Carlos Díaz Cajina, this group of 29 families owns Finca Magdalena, which now also provides lodging and a restaurant for tourists. We also buy from Cooperativa de Productores Orgánicos de Ometepe, a coop that operates on a different business model. It has 45 member farmers with plots scattered through the communities of Madronal, Balgüe, Las Cuchillas, El Corozal, La Palma, San Pedro, Merida, Urbaite, and La Flor.
We’re pleased to call many of the farmers our friends. Many Bainbridge delegates to Ometepe have stayed at Finca Magdalena. Farmers in El Corozal who are members of Productores Orgánicos opened their homes to members of our 2010 Coffee Delegation. Several coffee growers have visited Bainbridge as part of our anniversary delegations.
Since 2011, we have employed Rafael Cruz, an agronomist, to work with Ometepe’s organic coffee farmers, improving the size and quality of their crops. Rafael provides training — such as workshops on worm-composting and other organic practices — and advice, including ways to reduce the devastating impact of coffee rust on plants.
On Bainbridge, the beans are now roasted once a week by Pegasus Coffee Company. A crew of 50 volunteers takes turns bagging the roasted beans, distributing them to local grocery stores and other big customers, and shipping bags to our growing array of internet customers.
Because of the thousands of volunteer hours donated by Bainbridge residents, we have been able to make enough money from coffee sales to build water systems and schools, support public health projects, equip school libraries, employ an agronomist, and contribute to many other projects undertaken jointly by residents of our two sister islands.