Permaculture: Revolutionizing the Coffee Industry, But How?

The coffee industry: what is the problem? In comes Permaculture: What is it? Your favorite bean probably comes from ...

The coffee industry: what is the problem?

Your favorite bean probably comes from Southern or Central America, the Caribbean, Africa or Asia. These are all very temperate or tropical climates, dynamic and biodiverse in nature. Due to our increased consumption habits of drinking coffee, producers in these regions have responded to the growing demand by ratcheting up their production and exploiting more natural resources. Coffee farms grew to cultivate coffee on a large-scale, while prioritizing varieties of coffee beans that were more tolerant to the sun, heavy rain and high temperatures. However, these farms – also known as monoculture systems (meaning they grow one single crop) – cause more negative impact on the environment.

Why monoculture? The answer is simple: efficiency. Large scale, industrial farmers can produce high yields and thus high profits. However these farms are highly vulnerable to the risks of climate change, and by definition are not sustainable. They decrease biodiversity, but increase the amount of pests and diseases, leading farmers to use heavy fertilizers and chemicals to grow the beans. It is a vicious cycle that puts local farmers at greater risk from the increasing pressures our world is facing. 

Both small and large scale farmers depend on a successful coffee harvest for their livelihoods. The problem, therefore, is to understand how to cultivate and harvest coffee that is resilient to climate risks, continues to produce high-quality yield and does not put the livelihoods of farmers in danger. 

How do we manage all these risks? 

In comes Permaculture: What is it?

Agriculture is a massive driver of climate change. While there are a variety of technical methods to mitigate its effects, the cure starts with adopting an ancient mentality: to work with nature, rather than against it. Permaculture is not one specific process, but rather a mindset based on three ethical principles: Care for the Earth, Care for the People, and Fair Share. The word stems from the combination of "permanent" and "culture", coined by the Australians David Holmgren and Bill Mollison.  

Permaculture is a holistic approach to manage land and resources and create circular systems, where the relations between land and people help promote health, wealth and wellbeing of present and future generations. It is a design methodology, which makes use of agricultural techniques like agroforestry, abolition of pesticides, natural conservation, zero waste, diversification of crops and species, use of renewable energy and resources and many more.  Small-scale producers are turning to the methods of permaculture to build sustainable crop production, improve biodiversity and strengthen their own livelihoods.

How can permaculture change the coffee industry?

The ethics of permaculture result in truly purposeful connections between land, people and profit. Permaculture allows farmers to manage ecology in ways that have been largely ignored by the large players in the coffee industry. In the past, most producers focused solely on yield and profit; now, both small- and large-scale farmers face the same risks, and must adapt to the times. In an industry where coffee prices in the supermarket do not always accurately reflect the labor and resources within the supply chain, permaculture sets the stage for innovative new business models. Most importantly, it allows small-scale farmers to play a significant role in the specialty coffee industry, with the capacity to grow multiple crops and maintaining healthy and nutrient-rich lands every year. 

As a consumer, you can make the conscious choice to support sustainable agricultural practices with the products you buy, and drink. By supporting permaculture projects like Viva Clandestino, can help us safeguard the future of the coffee industry, one bean at a time.. 

Order a bag of Viva Clandestino today →