TLF Mexico

The Lucy Foundation’s model shows the value of diversity in business. We work with communities to establish their social, economic and environmental needs, before working together to calculate how we can collaboratively 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 Oaxaca, 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 farmer to consumer.

We do this using a twin-track approach.

Two boxes show the twin-track approach. Text reads: Twin-Track Approach. The first box under reads: Track One Ensuring that people with disabilities have access to their basic needs in all interventions and projects on an equal basis with others in the community. The other box reads: Track Two Addressing the specific needs of individuals with disabilities to empower them and improve their situation. Under the boxes reads Equality of Rights and Opportunities for People with Disabilities.

Track one workshops are run by local agricultural experts. Workshops are open to the whole community, and designed in a way that means anyone of any ability, age, gender or background can participate in a full and meaningful way. Track one workshops are focused on environmental wellbeing, and the production of coffee: teaching and making organic fertilisers and treatments, harvesting techniques, picking processes, and so on.

Track two workshops, on the other hand, are designed to support disabled community members into training and employment, and the realisation of their human rights. Together with paid work experience, track two workshops help disabled people set goals and then provide opportunities to help develop the skills needed to reach those goals (for example: communication, health and safety, punctuality, literacy and numeracy, etc.).

Since establishing a team on the ground The Lucy Foundation has successfully:

  • Hosted monthly track one inclusive and accessible agricultural workshops with coffee-farming families and the wider community;
  • Created thousands of litres of organic bio-fertiliser and organic insect and disease treatment made for 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 five disabled people and their families into paid, part-time contract work;
  • Launched Pluma coffee and cascara (coffee) tea in New Zealand;
  • Increased the quantity of Pluma products in New Zealand by 2700%.

So why coffee? Coffee is a good source of seasonal income for farmers in this remote region of Mexico where poverty is high. Pluma coffee is exclusively grown in Pluma Hidalgo, Mexico and is new to coffee drinkers in Aotearoa New Zealand. Coffee is the economic backbone of Pluma Hidalgo 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 John Burton Ltd (coffee importer/exporter), Able. Coffee Collaborative (coffee roaster), and Coffee Educators (barista training school). Like The Lucy Foundation, these are all businesses run by disabled people, and that support disability rights within the coffee industry.

In this way, coffee is being used as a catalyst for change, promoting inclusive and accessible business in Aotearoa New Zealand, Mexico, and beyond.

© 2021 The Lucy Foundation.