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Coffee Sustainability


Sustainable Farming

There is no clear definition of a sustainable farm or sustainable farming, and defintions that have been proposed are never agreed upon by those individuals who wish to make "sustainability" a term used to market coffee. The definition of coffee sustainability, however, is logical. Sustainable coffee is coffee grown in a manner that is kind to the environment and its people.

Sustainable Agriculture: Ways to Keep Coffee Farming Sustainable

A sustainable farm gives back as much to the land and people as it receives.  It seeks independence from non-renewable resources, using renewable resources when possible. Sustainable farming also minimizes pollution, takes steps to care for the environment, and cares for its employees.

A sustainable farm will reuse coffee husks as heating fuel rather than cutting down eucalyptus trees.  It will plant new trees for those used during heating, or it will implement pollution free coffee dryers such as the solar coffee dryer developed by Coffee Kids.

Sustainable farming implements practices to minimize water consumption and to clean the water used.  Water from the fermentation tanks should never be returned to rivers or lakes, but rather filtered naturally through the earth and then used for coffee irrigation.  Some excellent farms such as Agribahia in Bahia, Brazil ferment pulped coffees without water for a short time before sending the coffee to demucilating machines.  This cuts down on water waste while allowing them to consistently provide some of Brazil's best coffees. 

A sustainable farm will replace the natural nutrients of the land by spreading fertilizers and organic matter (composted coffee pulp) under the coffee trees and between the coffee trees.  This type of fertilization has been found to increase yields over time and to produce a more uniform and natural mineral content in the ground.

Sustainable farms will also engage in practices such as shade growing, biodiversification, organic farming, and sustainable agriculture. In addition to seeking renewable energy resources, they will promote education programs, provide medical care for workers, and provide decent wages and working conditions for their employees.

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