6. INVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITY
Our “coffee community” extends beyond Glasgow and our own operations which is why our community strand reflects our commitment to making a positive contribution within our different spheres of impact.
PROTECTING Scotland’s Rainforest
WITH THE JOHN MUIR TRUST
Although a relatively new partnership, Matthew Algie and the John Muir Trust are inextricably linked in their collective drive to do better by the planet in both an environmental and social sense. The partnership was established in 2021, coinciding with the launch of our Peak & Wild coffee brand. We have committed to donate at least £10,000 each year annually towards the Trust’s work.
Conservation in Action
The Trust is a conservation charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing wild places across the UK. A large part of what the Trust looks after is Scotland’s temperate rainforest. The rainforest in Scotland is among some of the best-preserved temperate rainforest in Europe. The Trust use funding to purchase land which allows them to manage invasive plant species and grazing to allow for more successful regeneration of native plants and trees. If you are lucky enough to visit Glen Nevis, like some of the Matthew Algie team did, you will notice the natural feel of the glen; oak, birch, ash, native pine, and hazel trees are evident everywhere you look.
Photograph by © Laura Corbe
Engaging Young People
A key part of how the John Muir Trust encourages young people to discover, protect and conserve wild places is the John Muir Award. The aim is to inspire people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places. It also encourages awareness and responsibility for the natural environment through a structured yet adaptable scheme, in a spirit of fun, adventure and exploration.
Every year, a diverse range of organisations get involved in the John Muir Award – from schools and colleges to youth centres, mental health, community groups and more. Between November 2021 and November 2022, 2151 participants in the local Glasgow area, close to our roastery, have completed a John Muir Award. 1719 (80%) of these Awards were completed by young people aged 24 and under and 695 (32%) were achieved by individuals experiencing some form of disadvantage through social, financial or health circumstances. In completing their Awards participants took part in over 10,800 hours of practical conservation.
One example of how the Trust is helping young people engage with nature is by supporting Blairvadach Outdoor Education Centre at Pinkston Basin within North Glasgow. The Centre uses the John Muir Award as its main engagement tool to connect Glasgow pupils with nature in the inner city, building confidence and resilience.
Hamiltonhill Claypits, near Pinkston, is Glasgow’s only inner-city Local Nature Reserve. It has an area that is perfect for exploring food webs, flora, fauna and the threats wild places face today. Award participants contribute by litter picking in and around the canals to help fight plastic pollution. Since February 2022, pupils visiting Pinkston have contributed a combined 1,054 hours of Conserve Challenge activity. One John Muir Award participant said, “I loved exploring the canal in canoes and learning about John Muir and the impact he had on the world.”
OUR 'FRIENDS OF COFFEE' PARTNERSHIP
Since 2015, we have partnered with the Fundación Amigos del Café (or “Friends of Coffee Foundation”) a small charity based in Honduras. Its vision statement is simple yet poignant: “We believe that all human beings have the right to a decent quality of life. Our vision is to improve the standard of living for coffee farming families living in western Honduras.” It accomplishes this goal by focusing on core values such as: food security, good environmental practices, education, health, economic development and social integration.
Between 2015 and 2022 we have donated over £45,000 to their farm-level projects in coffee communities. We take a look at the impact of the projects we have funded most recently below.
African Drying Beds for Producers in San Miguelito Intibucá
In 2019, our donation to the Fundación supported the construction of African drying beds for 45 producers of the Cooperativa Cafetalera San Miguelito Limitada (COCASMIL). The main benefit of this method of drying is that it can help producers to harness the sun’s energy to dry the coffee as opposed to using more energy and carbon-intensive mechanical drying methods. The method helps the coffee to dry evenly and maintains air flow, improving the quality and yield of the coffee, ultimately increasing the income for producers.
Producers attended a training session to learn how the drying beds are constructed as well as how the coffee drying process should be carried out in order to yield the best quality coffee. Producers were also visited to establish the progress made in constructing the drying beds. A total of 45 producers were visited and each of which had constructed 8 African drying beds. This resulted in 360 drying beds constructed as part of Matthew Algie’s donation.
Diversification into Honey Production at the Capucas Cooperative
In 2020, the Capucas Honey Project was launched which sought to provide an additional income stream for farmers. The delivery of the project was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which extended the length of the programme. However, the Fundación was still able to achieve the overall project objectives. 50 farmers benefitted from protective equipment and new specialist hives which allowed for the extraction of honey without damaging the hives.
Farmers also received holistic training on beekeeping including hive installation, the biology of bees, ongoing management of the hives, how to protect the bees from diseases, duplication of the hives and harvesting and processing the honey. By investing in this technical expertise in honey production, the hope is that this cohort will be able to expand their capacity for honey production over time, as well as sharing the knowledge with other members of the cooperative.
As well as the additional income that farmers will earn from honey production, introducing bees on the coffee farms can promote pollination in coffee plants and other crops such as citrus and avocados. This should boost productivity of the coffee bushes as well as other species growing on the farms.
A beneficiary of the project is Olvin Arturo Perez Romero. He says Matthew Algie’s support “has been of great benefit, I remember when I started, we would have to make a larger investment because we would have to have suits and a lot of clothes that sometimes get ruined and we have to buy them again. They (Matthew Algie) donated them to us: suit, smoker, hives. We didn’t have to make any investment to take care if it during these difficult times, it was practically ready to produce.”
Jose Francisco Villeda, also known to his colleagues as ‘the famous Panchito’, is another beneficiary of the Capucas Honey Project and is the president of the honey plant. Panchito says, “I have had some extra money apart from the coffee business. I feel very happy because I am also participating in the ecosystem; we participate as beekeepers in the project of the ecosystem.” Panchito goes onto say that Matthew Algie’s support has allowed him and his daughter to produce 4 barrels of honey and will allow him to continue beekeeping after 13 years of doing so.