The Lucy Foundation’s model shows the value of diversity in business. We work with communities to establish their social, economic and environmental needs. We then calculate how we can meet these needs through sustainable trade.
In 2016, The Lucy Foundation established a team on the ground in Pluma Hidalgo – an isolated coffee-farming village, high in the mountains of Mexico. The aim of the Pluma Coffee Project is to transform the global coffee industry by developing a sustainable value chain of coffee that is not only good for the environment, the community and the economy, but is also inclusive of disabled people, from seed to cup.
To do this, we work with indigenous coffee-farming families, all affected by disability, to help them increase the quality and quantity of their coffee. We also help disabled family members to become trained and employed within the local coffee industry through beekeeping, barista coffee training, coffee tours, coffee harvest and agricultural workshops. Within the first year of operation The Lucy Foundation successfully:
- Held more than 30 inclusive and accessible agricultural workshops with coffee-farming families and the wider community;
- Created 6,000 litres of organic bio-fertiliser and 600 litres of organic insect and disease treatment made for the crops;
- Helped develop a local barista training program (also delivered in sign language);
- Set up beehives to increase coffee quality through pollination and as additional income for the families;
- Supported three disabled people into paid, part-time contract work;
- Launched our first batch of Pluma coffee and cascara (coffee) tea in New Zealand.
So why coffee? Coffee is a good source of seasonal income for coffee farmers in this remote region of Mexico where poverty is high. Coffee is also being used to empower disabled people to work on coffee farms that their families have been working for generations, as well as become more active in their community. Pluma coffee is exclusively grown in Pluma Hidalgo, Mexico and is new to New Zealand coffee drinkers. Coffee is the economic backbone of Pluma Hidalgo, Mexico with many families having a small number of trees in their backyard. We work side-by-side with these coffee farmers and their families to help improve their crops and promote inclusive economic opportunities within the community.
In New Zealand, The Lucy Foundation partners with organisations, such as Coffee Educators and Able. Coffee Collaborative, who actively support disabled Kiwis into training and employment within the New Zealand coffee industry. Pluma coffee is used as a catalyst for change, promoting inclusive and accessible business both in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world.
What we love about this project is that at all stages of production there are opportunities for people with different abilities to play a key role in the end-to-end supply chain of coffee.
At the heart of this project is community. Changing perceptions requires meaningful and inclusive community interactions. And as one of our co-founders, Ben Scott, says:
What’s good for community is good for business.
And who wouldn’t want to be a part of social change just by enjoying a good cuppa!
The Lucy Foundation team is looking for funding and donations in New Zealand, Mexico and around the world. Find out how you can help us out here.