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Cool Beans: Coffee Arabica Farming in Uganda

Friday, September 27th was a landmark day! We planted a whopping 420 coffee arabica seedlings in Kalehe village on Batwa family plots (60 for each family and 30 for each individual we work with). We hired Michael, manager of the Bwindi Forest Farm and his colleague Enock, to train the Batwa families on planting and cultivation — and he’ll come out again to help as the plants grow.

Just wow! We are so excited about this project. All coffee will be grown without chemicals, which is good for the environment and good for the health of the Batwa. We are in the process of creating organic liquid fertilizer using a special recipe Michael told us — it has to "rest" or "ruminate" for 30 days.

You may not realize that where we work in Uganda is up in the mountains; Buhoma village (adjacent to Kalehe) is the elevation of Denver, the mile-high city! This high elevation and cool weather favors coffee arabica, which is the specialty coffee that garners a higher price on the market compared with robusta. You'll often see "100% arabica beans" on specialty coffee beans that you buy, though sometimes a little bit of robusta can actually round out the profile of a good cup of coffee! Some of the Batwa were already growing robusta, but they had some pests and weren't getting the yields they could, so with our help, they should fare better in years to come.

Shade-grown coffee arabica from the mountains promotes biodiversity and helps mitigate climate change. The rainforests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park boasts some of the highest bird biodiversity in the world. More than 1,000 species are found here! But the park has a hard edge — it’s surrounded by agriculture. Expanding the natural forest around the park by planting trees will help conserve wildlife, expanding the natural forest habitat. We will plant native trees around the coffee and elsewhere in Kalehe village. It’s very exciting!!

Sweetest little children! This is Beckham on the right, the child that stole my heart when I first saw him in 2014, and his younger sister Sasha with one of their family's 60 new coffee plants.

Benon plants a seedling. He is the father of Bosco, Macklin, and Daisy; brother to Jolly and Peninah; and uncle to Sharon!

RSF Manager Charity stands with Enock (he wore a mask most of the time!)

Sharon plants her coffee seedlings with baby Thomas on her back!

Jackson, The village chairman, with one of his coffee seedlings.

Michael, the manager of Bwindi Coffee Farm, helps Amos (Jackson's adult son) plant a seedling.


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