Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sombreros and Machetes; the life of a coffee farmer

Members of the 2012 Farmer to Farmer Guatemala trip and As Green As It Gets.

"These gentleman are experts on growing coffee, they can tell you just about everything about it from the red seed on the tree to the feel when it germinates..... he knows the coffee is ready because of the color and how it feels against his back molar" explained Franklin, an American facilitator and our guide at As Green As It Gets Fair Trade cooperative. Me and Fitzie, students at the University of Wisconsin Stout, have been in Guatemala for 12 days by the time the farmer group arrived. We had seen many impressive sights including active volcanos, elaborate New Years celebrations and ancient Mayan ruins rising out of the jungle. But there was something unique and inspiring about the coffee farmers we meet at As Green As It Gets Fair Trade Cooperative. Franklin gave a riveting story about the farmers we met who are the face of the agrarian struggle in Guatemala. I had heard of fair trade before and had seen coffee products in the stores, but being here amongst the farmers in their work place was amazing. Coffee is the staple product for these farmers but they have numerous spin off projects run by other family members and neighbors including products such as shoulder bags, face creams, fruits and rabbit breeding. Part of my journey in Guatemala includes conducting research for my senior capstone project on free trade coffee and I could not have picked a more inspiring topic. written by Lakayana Drury

Our first official day with the entire Farmer to Farmer group consisted of seeing the sites in Antigua and meeting and seeing the people and projects of the non profit, As Green As It Gets. Antigua has become a very familiar place to me, so I acted as the "unofficial" tour guide for the group. We toured the awe inspiring ruins of the Catedral San Jose. This cathedral was built from 1669 and completed in 1680, after the previous cathedral was destroyed in an earthquake in 1583. This new cathedral was supposed to be earthquake resistant, but mother nature always seems to have a way to prove man wrong, and sure enough in 1773 the cathedral was destroyed again. Today, visitors are able to explore the magnificent ruins of this immense site. We also explored the more tranquil Monasterio de San Francisco. Part of the Monastery is still used today, but part of it remains in ruins. I can't wait to explore the modern day Mayan culture as we explore Lake Atitlan. I'm reading, I, Rigoberta Menchu, and in Guatemala today, the Mayans are treated as second class citizens. written by Fitzie Heimdahl

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