The Formation of a Coffee Cooperative

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The Formation of a Coffee Cooperative

Meet the "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative"

June 18th, 2017

Our "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative." Elected chairman Narayan Bhattarai stands third from the left and the Sakute offical stands third from the right. The committee is 3 men and 4 women, and represents 4 different casts within the community. 

Our "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative." Elected chairman Narayan Bhattarai stands third from the left and the Sakute offical stands third from the right. The committee is 3 men and 4 women, and represents 4 different casts within the community. 

This week with the help of our own Greg Robinson and Narayan Bhattarai Mama, Conscious Impact formed the Takure branch of the Nepali based coffee cooperative! On Saturday we were excited to set up a training with a representative from the Sakute Coffee Cooperative in Nepal and the local community. Sakute is a town in Sindhupalchowk, the same district as Takure and only a short bus ride away. A representative from the cooperative came to Takure this week to provide a training regarding the structure, requirement and benefits of the co-op model. To join the cooperative members were asked to provide citizen cards and passport photographs. We are so excited that 46 women and men turned in their paperwork and the cooperative has officially formed! We now have 26 members from Takure and 20 members from Bimire. Others in the community will still have the opportunity to join in the coming years.

Members meet for a training with a representative from Sakute.

Members meet for a training with a representative from Sakute.

The cooperative has been named the "Basic Organic Coffee Coopetavie." Basic means to be directly connected to the earth through simple and organic means of farming. 

Apart from forming the cooperative, the members sat together and elected a 7 person committee to represent the "Basic Organic Coffee Cooperative." Narayan Bhattarai was unanimously selected as the chairman of the committee. Of those elected as representatives 4 were men and 3 were women. The elected committee represents families from 4 casts, Brahmin, Tamang, Magar, and Dahal. We're so excited for this opportunity to have women and men working together as well as families form 4 casts. 

A huge thank you to our agriculture team and Mandu Tapa (third from the left). 

A huge thank you to our agriculture team and Mandu Tapa (third from the left). 

The cooperative is Nepali run and organized and supports an equal women to men committee. The chairwoman of the cooperative is Mandu Tapa who has been extraordinary in helping us form the Takure/Bimire branch of the cooperative. We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has been a part of forming the cooperative. None of this would be possible without the support of volunteers and donors from around the world. To learn more about our More Than a Tree campaign and supporting the farmers of our community click HERE. Please consider donating to help us continue this project, and for every $1 donated one tree is planted!! DONATE NOW!

"Coffee is less of an investment. I can spend less money and generate more income." - Gopal Achraya

"Coffee is less of an investment. I can spend less money and generate more income." - Gopal Achraya

"I'm excited to plant coffee because small worms destroy corn and millet. It is much easier to plant coffee." - "Bal Kumari Dahal

"I'm excited to plant coffee because small worms destroy corn and millet. It is much easier to plant coffee." - "Bal Kumari Dahal

"I'm excited to plant coffee because it provides a long lasting income generating source." -Amar Bdr. Ranamagar

"I'm excited to plant coffee because it provides a long lasting income generating source." -Amar Bdr. Ranamagar

"There is a big problem with Monkeys destroying other crops and I think coffee will be good." - Sarita Achraya

"There is a big problem with Monkeys destroying other crops and I think coffee will be good." - Sarita Achraya

Support our More Than a Tree Campaign by clicking

 

Written By: Bryce G. Tanner, Greg Robinson

Photography: Greg Robinson, Rebeca Segal, and Jonathan H. Lee

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Meet Buddha: A Farmer Using Permaculture in Nepal

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Meet Buddha: A Farmer Using Permaculture in Nepal

Meet Buddha Tamang 


A note from the interview: Buddha Tamang is an elderly Buddhist man living just down the hill from Conscious Impact's camp. His friends in the village could only praise him for his love of organic farming and dedication to his plants and trees. We knew we had to meet him. He is a permaculture enthusiast in every definition of the word. He plants in a way that benefits all the living things near and on his land. His trees are intermixed with crops and everything he grows has a purpose. His devotion to Buddhism is directly reflected into the way he farms. Buddha has often said he loves his trees as much as his children. He loves to talk about his life, his plants, and how he has coped through major distresses including the passing of his wife and the 2015 earthquake. Buddha is now a close friend, a coffee co-op member, and a mentor, we visit him often. 


Q: How is your way of planting trees different, and what is special about that?

A: My original home is not here, but in Daduwa. When I first moved to this land there was not a single tree. This land was just for grazing animals for the people of Takure and Dude. From that corner of land to the other, in the 15-20 ropanis (2-2.5 acres) of land, I could only collect 1 basket of grass.

All that I have planted I brought from somewhere else. This tree here, has grown here (pointing to large tree behind him). This land had no plants or trees, when I first bought plants, I didn't know how to grow them. Then I learned how to use compost. There wasn't any grass for my animals to feed on, so I learned to grow grass. Now this time, there won't be wood shortages or problems. We grow trees for wood and bamboo to make baskets. Before we used to carry everything in rice sack bags, but now we use bamboo to carry things and make baskets.

When my wife was sick, I learned how to grow fruit trees, specifically lemon trees. I took my wife to India and other foreign countries. I would carry around lemons in my pocket to put in water when I wanted to drink. When she was in the hospital there was no one at home to wash my clothes. I took off my jacket and hung it in my house and did not wash it for a year after she was sick. After one year, once she had passed away, I reached for my coat again, and found the same 2 lemons, but now they had become dry. When I opened them, there were 11 seeds. I wanted to know if they would grow, so I planted all 11 seeds in the mud. I wanted to try, and all 11 seeds grew.

I planted the 11 trees in small plastic bags. I put soil and compost inside the small black bags, and placed them under the shade of a tree for 2-3 years to grow. I gave them water and took care of them, even though I didn't have experience, I dug 11 holes to plant the trees. I planted them too close together, so when they grew the branches touched each other.

After my wife died, I traveled to so many places and saw many people doing tree grafting. I watched and learned how to graft by watching other people do it. I eventually did the same for my plants. Through tree grafting, I was able to grow 80 lemon trees. All these trees, especially lemon, are from grafting. I used to have more trees, but 20 trees were destroyed when the government expanded the road.

 "I want to build a garden around this land. Gardens need to be cared for. They need water, and medicine, everything. I want to make this place a garden. That's why I'm doing this."

 

There was no system that allowed my son to stay home and work in Takure, because there were no jobs available. Like the heavy rains that wash away everything in its path, my wife died, and I was left alone. I was left having to pay back 14 lakh rupees in loans, which I had spent on my wife's medical treatment. And even after she died, I spent so much money on her death ceremony and funeral.

Because of the need to pay back these loans, there was no way for my son to stay home. My son, when he comes to stay, is more like a guest. Not out of his own interest, but because he is obligated to work.

Throughout all this, I had wanted to build my house. I have so many plans to work on my land. I have a problem where there is not enough water. I want to make the land level and build a dam to store water. I already have a small pond. I want to plant different types of fruits and vegetables, like onion and garlic. Anything can grow in this soil, on this land. If there are problems with starvation for 2 months, we will survive because I have grown so much food, like yams and sweet potatoes. I planted all different types of wild yams and sweet potatoes all over this place.

 

Q: What are your dreams and vision for your land for the next 50 years?

A: In my view, I want to make it a better place. I've only done experiments on this land, and haven't really benefitted from what I grew until now. Now I've seen I can do what I want to do. My son and grandsons, are all involved with the agriculture on this farm. Everyone's heart is in this work and land. Right now, why go to America or the UK or Korea or different countries? If we can plant trees and fruits here, we will have flowers, and now I have bees. We can create benefits from all these things.

Nowadays, there are roads and markets everywhere. You can use vegetables for eating, you can sell them in the market, and you can send them far away to be sold. Onions, garlic, and green vegetables are essential. We need them every day, morning and evening. If you have extra vegetables, you can sell them, and then you don't have to buy it. I will manage the problem of water, and I will grow different kinds of fruits and vegetables. It is hard work doing agriculture, but there is no other option. This is what I want to spend my time doing, putting all my energy on this land. Not just for myself, but for my grandson. My grandson has a good education, and it is good for him to do this work because he has knowledge. That is why our dream is to manage this place, and to have guests like you from far away. I have experience, I just don't have enough resources or economic power. I have less income and more expenses.

"Right now, why go to America or the UK or Korea or different countries? If we can plant trees and fruits here, we will have flowers, and now I have bees. We can create benefits from all these things."

If we look, there is nothing to do. But if we just do, we find what there is to do. We have so many bamboo trees, so we can make so many things from them, but we need the skills to learn how to make these things. What we need is skills. How to plant trees, how many trees need to be planted – all these things need to be learned.

I have 6 children/grandchildren. All of them are going to school, being part of society, attending ceremonies and inviting everyone. If for 2-3 years, you are all coming and going from this place, you'll have the opportunity to see these changes. If one person died, we don't have to stop doing things, because dying is a natural part of life. In 2-3 years, I want to decorate this place like a bride on her wedding day. I may die, and I will not be able to do this, but my son and grandson will be able to continue this work.

Q: There is a large tree behind your house and there are many pigeons living in it. Have you built these homes in the tree for the birds?

A: Before the earthquake we had a two story building here, and the 2nd floor was a just for pigeons. There were 500-600 pigeons there. I don't keep pigeons, but I give them grains. Because of the earthquake our home was destroyed. After that, there was such a horrible smell. We realized it was the smell of pigeon poop. 500-600 pigeons produced 80 sacks of poop for compost and I collected all of this.

"If we have to climb up, then we will also have to climb down – there is always both happiness and sadness. We have laughs and tears, life is like this. Even if you feel right now everything is okay, maybe it won't be later."

We dug a hole under the lemon tree and put all the pigeon poop there and covered it. You can see the lemon tree is still flowering and giving fruit. After that, the pigeons were still living in the damaged house. We didn't have any space for them to live. Just like human beings, who also didn't have anywhere to live after the earthquake. But still they would come at night and live there. We believe that 50-60 pigeons were eaten by cats.

For agriculture, when it comes to rice, millet, wheat, corn, black beans and other different kinds of beans, you will not understand if I tell you all the different things I know about these crops. I am the child who did so much agriculture and still I am doing. Now I have so many hardships because of my wife. I have experienced so much pain because of my wife. I was not even 50 years old when she died. It is not worth it to love someone who has died, but it is worth it to love those who are living, that is why I love my children. I get so much happiness and so much sadness from everything I've experienced in my life.

I traveled so much. If we talk about India, I went to Calcutta, New Delhi, and many other cities in India. I also went to West Pakistan. In my country, I went to Rolpa, Dolpa, and Gorkha. I have so many experiences through traveling. Time did not give me the chance to do everything. I am not hopeless, nor am I overconfident. Everything is good with me. I am okay. I am not jealous that other people are earning more money. If anyone says anything, it doesn't make me feel bad. If time favors me, I am going to be able to do so much. We have to travel to different places inside and outside our own countries. And if you will come here sometimes, you will see all the changes that I want to do to this land.

I have planted 150 Lapsi trees around here and I have cut some of them for wood. I have also planted 50 chestnut trees, one variety that you can open with your teeth and the other you have to crush with stone. Now they are bearing fruit. We came to this land just 30-35 years ago.

"You ask, I will answer. Or I will just speak alone like a crazy person."

If we have to climb up, then we will also have to climb down – there is always both happiness and sadness. We have laughs and tears, life is like this. Even if you feel right now everything is okay, maybe it won't be later. Time is powerful, and we have to move according to time. We cannot say, "No I can't," due to the power of time.

To donate to our agriculture program click here

To learn more about Conscious Impact visit: www.consciousimpact.org

Interview by: Jose Welhan and Bryce Tanner

Edited by: Bryce Tanner

Photography: Johanth H. Lee

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Inspiration Through Connection: Renee's Story

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Inspiration Through Connection: Renee's Story

My arrival to Conscious Impact was on a whim, but my arrival to Nepal was not. I had been planning to come to Nepal for over a year, with a desire to further my passion for the environment and in organic farming by volunteering. Many of my closest friends were caught in the 2015 earthquake and were lucky to survive without injury. Through their experience, not only of the earthquake but of the incredible time they had exploring this country beforehand, I was inspired early on to come to the mountains.

"I was inspired early on to come to the mountains."

I started my journey by attending a two week Permaculture Design Course (PDC) at Hasera Farm outside Kathmandu. I attended the course to gain more knowledge before volunteering and to learn about Nepali culture and family life through a homestay.  After this, I purposely had no plans. And lucky I did not, because there I met three members from Conscious Impact, including Narayan Mama, one of the local Nepali staff. By the end of the course I decided “Sure, why not?”, and followed them back to Takure to see what kind of work they were doing.

It was clear to me after only a few days I was not ready to leave the Conscious Impact Camp anytime soon. Our Nepali staff are so integrated into the projects, and actively participate in decision making. One of the first projects I worked on was helping create an Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) survey. The survey intended to continue discussions with the local community to ascertain existing strengths in order to create connections for new opportunities. At home in Australia, I have always been interested in indigenous issues and know the difficulties of fast paced, disconnected development models. I connect strongly with Conscious Impact's long-term, community focused, and driven style of development.

These days I am heavily involved in the Agriculture Team. Among other projects, I am most passionate about the local run coffee co-op we are helping to establish in Takure. I am interested in reforestry and land regeneration, which is a very big and concerning issue in Nepal. This project highlighted to me the complexities of trying to regenerate the land while creating sustainable livlihoods for the local community at the same time. The co-op model will provide farmers with an alternative, long term and stable source of income, while reforesting the land at the same time.


"I am grateful every day for each person here, Nepali and foreigner, who holds space for me."


This work is often difficult and challenging, but living in community gives us all the much needed support to stay balanced when living and working rurally in a foreign country. I have felt my heart open so much, less focused on the “I” and more on the “We”. From daily yoga practice, to sharing chores, to gratitude reflection before dinner, every act is done with intention, and as a reflection of our collective gratitude for this space and for each other. I am grateful every day for each person here, Nepali and foreigner, who holds space for me.

To continue support my work with Conscious Impact please click HERE

To learn more: www.consciousimpact.org

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Meet Durga: A Woman Farmer in Takure

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Meet Durga: A Woman Farmer in Takure


A note from the interview: I had misconceptions of the difficulty a female farmer in Takure faces every day. I had no idea the daily struggle that Durga Koirala endures because it was always hidden behind her beautiful smile. When we interviewed Durga her eldest daughter had just been married and subsequently moved away from the village. This was weighing on Durga deeply. Because of the emotions that were connected to these questions, we chose not to ask further details on challenging subjects. As a widowed mother, Durga is responsible for bearing the weight of farming and raising her 6 children. Her youngest son attends boarding school and lives with his uncle, while the rest of her daughters help with farming while trying to attend classes. These children respect and adore their mother whole heartedly, she means everything to them, and it is obvious in the ways they help her and care for her. This family has constantly shown adversity in difficult times and I admire their continuous courage. I hope that next season we can continue to help her family though our agriculture’s coffee program. For every dollar donated, one tree is planted, but it also means so much more. The money raised will continue to support families like Durga’s in creating sustainable long-term job opportunities. I hope to continue this interview at a later time, as for now, here is a glimpse into the life of a female farmer in Takure. I hope that by reading this interview you see the connection between mothers around the world. Durga, just as a mother in your home country, hopes to raise empowered, smart, and healthy children. Sincerely, Bryce Tanner

Learn more and support Takure's farmers HERE


Durga stands in her field with two of her young daughters. 

Durga stands in her field with two of her young daughters. 

Q: What is your name, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?

A: My name is Durga Koirala. I live in Takure with 5 family members, including myself. Two others are in Kathmandu and another lives in my uncle’s house. Sometimes they come home, but not often.  The five of us stay here to do all the household work. I have one son, one daughter who is already married. Now five left waiting to be married.

Q: What does it mean to be a female farmer in Nepal? What do you like the most? What is challenging?

A: It is hard. I am getting a little help, which helps pay the school fees for my children. People ask me how I’m doing, all these things. Before they said they would provide a job for one of my daughters, but now they are saying they won’t. My other daughter says it is not possible to work in Takure. She will only find work in Kathmandu. Who will help her find a job or a place to stay?

My son still has to study. I provide some education to my daughters, but I have to spend money on my son’s education. He is small.

Q: Is farming sufficient to provide your family with food for the whole year?

A: No. Sometimes we have to buy food. Nearly half of what we eat we have to buy. This year we had enough corn to feed our buffalos, but not our family. We are not able to take care of all of the buffalo, and have to sell one. We are not able to get sufficient production from our farm because of problems with monkeys and insects.

We don’t have a sufficient water supply for our fields and for our crops. This year we planted corn in the month of Jestha (Nepali month). We were not able to plant millet and that is why we don’t have sufficient food from farming.

I have one coffee tree. It already has some fruit. Last year I didn’t pick any of the fruit because I was busy building my house. This year I will harvest it. Before last year I was able to earn 700 NPR (~7 USD) from the coffee tree. After my husband died, I planted this orange tree and now it is bearing fruits.

 

"My other daughter says it is not possible to work in Takure. She will only find work in Kathmandu. Who will help her find a job or place to stay?"

Q: Does you have access to enough water for your plants?

A: No. Because of the water problem, I have so many difficulties. People fight for water from the tap.

Q: Did you grow up farming? What is your favorite memory of farming as a child?

A: I didn’t work during my childhood. After I was married, every year I gave birth to a new child. My husband is the one that used to work in the fields. Before he died, he did all the farming, grew all the millet, and took care of all the animals. Now that he is gone, I have to do it. But even these days, I have my daughters to do a lot of this work as well. I have to take care of the house, and all other household chores. When it is necessary for me, I will leave the house and go run errands. For the government funding, I recently left to go receive it in the city.

Not only now, but I’ve had so much suffering and hardship during my childhood.  

"If we have access to a water source, I can work hard and grow more."

Q: What do you grow on your farm?

A: I grow greens, onions, cabbage, and peas, but there is no water. You can see I planted onions, but there is no water for them. If we have water then we can grow a little bit more. If we have access to a water source, I can work hard and grow more.

Q: How much time a week or a day do you spend collecting fodder for the animals?

 A: It takes 2-3 hours to go down to the field every day.

My daughters usually go to cut grass, and most of the time I am at home. When my daughters are busy with their studies, I do the work. One of my daughters is in Nawalpur right now for her studies. She only studies in the morning and returns home after lunch.

Q: What do your children do in the farm?

A: They do everything. Digging corn and taking care of the fields.

Q: What hopes do you have for your daughters? What do you see for them in their future?

A: My only wish is for them to find jobs.

 


To learn more about our coffee program or support the farmers of Takure,

CLICK HERE

Interview: Bryce Tanner and Sunita Pandey

Photography: Jonathan H. Lee


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Meet Shyam: A Coffee Farmer from Nepal

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Meet Shyam: A Coffee Farmer from Nepal

Shyam Katuwal owns and operates an organic coffee nursery in Takure. Over the last year, he has shared his experiences with Conscious Impact so that we can help connect potential coffee farmers from Takure and Bimire with a local cooperative. He is truly an inspiration. 

Q: Why did you start growing organic coffee?

A: I have found inspiration from within myself grow coffee. For me, coffee farming is more important than life itself. I started growing coffee in the year 2043 B.S. (1986).

Growing coffee is important for the bright future of children. It is good for our health to drink coffee. For families, it can be become a good source of income. From the very beginning, I have felt that coffee farming is good which is why I decided to do it. Now I am so happy and proud of myself. My sons and I have registered the name of a coffee cooperative under the name Surjya Coffee Cooperative.

Shyam in his garden.

Shyam in his garden.

A young coffee tree with plenty of compost will grow be strong and produce plenty of income-generating fruit.

A young coffee tree with plenty of compost will grow be strong and produce plenty of income-generating fruit.

After the registration, I now have different NGOs (non-government organizations) connecting with me. If I was only growing corn or millet no one would want to work with me. Because of coffee, Conscious Impact has also come, and I feel so happy for this to happen.

 

Q: How has the community grown from having coffee?

"The journey of coffee is longer than that of us human beings. "

A: Now I am providing training for farmers on how to dig holes to plant coffee trees. With the help of trainings, coffee farming will be able to expand. But right now, we are unable to supply as much coffee as being demanded by the market.

Coffee farming is so good. It is like farming for dollars. Planting trees are beneficial for our health long-term. Even if we don’t have food to eat, even if we just sit in the garden drinking water, coffee is good for us. Gardens are good for the environment because plants give us oxygen to breathe.

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Shelled coffee, drying on racks.

Shelled coffee, drying on racks.

Shyam sharing the coffee production process with John.

Shyam sharing the coffee production process with John.

 

Q: Tell us a little bit about your farm, and what coffee has done for your farm because we like your organic style and sister planting, which has led to the creation of a beautiful farm environment:

A: Rice and millet farming is not sufficient to generate enough income. Our goal is to begin three-story farming: with a large tree creating shade as it grows over a coffee tree, and then a low growing plant below that; such as ginger or turmeric. Though land size never changes, the number of people we have to feed only continues to grow. By farming in this way we have enough food to feed everyone, and future generations will have a good source of income. Millet and rice is not sufficient, so this is the best way of generating income and feeding people.

Shyam showing off his turmeric, a great low story plant.

Shyam showing off his turmeric, a great low story plant.

Beautiful tumeric.

Beautiful tumeric.


"Rice and millet farming is not sufficient to generate enough income... Though land size never changes, the number of people we have to feed only continues to grow. By farming in this way we have enough food to feed everyone, and future generations will have a good source of income."


Until now I haven’t received any donations. I have been coffee farming by myself. I am so happy that you are all coming here and doing this interview with me, helping to promote my hard work. Coffee is life. We have to go out and cover these naked hills with coffee plants. Since you have coffee saplings, you must plant everywhere, to make everything green again. Whatever help you need, I will be here to support you. Whether it is with trainings or helping speak to people.

There are so many important things that we still have to learn about coffee farming.

Over the last two decades, 25% of Nepal's land has been deforested which contributes to increased landslides, loss of biodiversity, and economic downfall.

Over the last two decades, 25% of Nepal's land has been deforested which contributes to increased landslides, loss of biodiversity, and economic downfall.

Shyam and Narayan. Two friends and farmers ready to reforest their land.

Shyam and Narayan. Two friends and farmers ready to reforest their land.

Coffee begins to give fruit after its 3rd year.

Coffee begins to give fruit after its 3rd year.

"Coffee is life. We have to go out and cover these naked hills with coffee plants."

We have already been certified internationally as organic coffee farmers. We collected soil for 3 years and tested it for being organic or not and for use of pesticides. After going through all those requirements, we were finally certified as organic. We have the certificate, and will eat organic vegetables. We are not like broiler chickens, we will make our whole lives organic and healthy.

We are spreading the message of organic farming in our villages. Some people understand and some people don’t. People do not think for themselves, and so they don’t understand the importance of organic farming and why it is good for everyone and the environment. I am working so hard to convince people that we are capable of doing good, instead of bad.

Shyam speaking to other farmers about the benefits of growing coffee organically.

Shyam speaking to other farmers about the benefits of growing coffee organically.

Stronger together!

Stronger together!


"We are spreading the message of organic farming in our villages. Some people understand and some people don’t."


I started a coffee nursery in the year 2043 B.S. (1986). Now I am providing coffee trees to my friends and selling them for 15 rupees each. Since 2063 B.S. (2006), I have continually worked in the nursery and spread knowledge to my friends on how to grow coffee.

I’m so happy that you came here to see all of my work from the very beginning. I feel so lucky. By unveiling my work, I am able to connect and share my story with different foreigners, donors, or organizations. This has created a good environment and strong network for me. After connecting with you [Conscious Impact], I feel I like my knowledge has increased from what it was before.

 

Q: How has starting his own coffee cooperative changed the way he is farming coffee?

A: From the very start at the beginning, we had so much difficulty selling the coffee because there was no cooperative. We first supplied coffee to Buddha Coffee Mill. I started I realized it was necessary to find constant and stable suppliers who would buy coffee. Constantly having to go to different places and people was not sustainable. After that we made 8 primary coffee cooperative groups.

Now we are established and are able to supply all our coffee to this processing center in Sukute. They collect all the coffee there, divide the organic from the inorganic, and all the organic coffee is shipped to Korea and elsewhere. In this way, we directly transport our coffee to Sukute as we grow it.

Shyam talking about the benefits of growing coffee with other plants.

Shyam talking about the benefits of growing coffee with other plants.

Compost tea at Shyam's farm!

Compost tea at Shyam's farm!

By connecting to this district coffee cooperative, we can create unity among us which can be hard and difficult to do. If we support each other, we can raise each other up. Some people still do not understand why I plant coffee trees. If we cover all these hills with coffee plants, we can look at it and know it is for the benefit of the Nepalese people. It is not for foreigners. Our aim is to raise awareness among people and help them to do something by themselves. Coffee is so important.

"One person cannot do anything on their own. If we help each other, we are able to raise each other up."

 

One person cannot do anything on their own. If we help each other, we are able to raise each other up. If Conscious Impact is here to help, then we are more than willing to receive it. Whether it is with our coffee or with a nursery, we are here to receive and share knowledge. We as farmers are a marginalized group. I am trying by myself to do this work, but with more energy from others, we’ll be inspired to do more.

For us, coffee is our life cycle. The journey of coffee is longer than that of us human beings. People are not able to understand coffee. Our coffee is organic Arabica, and comes all the way from the Americas. The name Arabica is famous in this way.

I want to thank you again; I am able to sit here and give this interview and not worry about time. There is no value of time because the life cycle is constantly going on.

Narayan, Greg, and Shyam talking coffee in the Conscious Impact greenhouse.

Narayan, Greg, and Shyam talking coffee in the Conscious Impact greenhouse.

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Training Takure in Coffee Management

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Training Takure in Coffee Management

Our first coffe tree is being planted!

Our first coffe tree is being planted!

Volunteers Meryl and Jatesh measure 6 kg of humanure per tree!

Volunteers Meryl and Jatesh measure 6 kg of humanure per tree!

Farmers sit in front of the Bimire School as we plant our first coffee tree!

Farmers sit in front of the Bimire School as we plant our first coffee tree!

Greg is teaching our hardworking volunteers the importance of prepping holes for each coffee tree!

Greg is teaching our hardworking volunteers the importance of prepping holes for each coffee tree!

Farmers from Bimire and Takure are ready to plant coffee! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project!

Farmers from Bimire and Takure are ready to plant coffee! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this project!

Community Training

On May 5th and 6th Conscious Impact, in partnership with a Nepali coffee cooperative held two local coffee trainings. One in the community of Bimire and another in Takure. We were grateful to host Ehak Prashad Bykurel from the neighboring village of Sukute to train our community. Ehak works at the processing and distribution center and trains farmers to be successful in creating their own branch of the coffee cooperative. Each farmer was trained in the history of coffee, where and what to plant with coffee, how to prepare the soil, how to take care of the tree, benefits of organic trees, and benefits of the co-op model. We will be helping the community organize into two groups of 25- 30 farmers.

As a part of the training we planted our first 10 coffee trees. These are the first 10 trees of our 10,000 tree initiative. Each tree represents so much more than a tree, they will help to reforest these mid hills in the Himalayas, help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon, and help support livelihood security by providing cash crops and making agriculture a viable way of life. We’re 10 down and 9,990 to go! We’re so excited to plant all of these trees over the next year. Learn more HERE

In the next few weeks, as monsoon rains continue to increase, we will be distributing trees to the farmers in our community. Each farmer will receive the amount of trees for the holes they have prepared. Most farmers have asked to purchase between 50 and 500 trees. It will take 3 years for the trees to reach maturity and begin producing fruit.

Over the next few weeks we will begin planting new coffee seeds for next years distribution. We are also continuously planting other varieties of tree to be planted alongside coffee including neem, ippl ippl, jack fruit and other income generating trees.

Camp Training

On May 7th we held a special training for our volunteers. Each volunteer was taught how to properly dig and prepare a hole for coffee. Each hole is prepared with a 50 cm radius and depth. The top soil is separated and each pile of soil is mixed with 3kg of compost. Our tree compost is made specifically from our composting latrines. This means that every volunteer who has pooped in our latrines is contributing to the health and longevity of each tree planted at camp!

We will spend the rest of this week digging and preparing holes!

Are you interested in supporting our 10,000 tree initiative? Learn more, or donate Here! Thank you!

Written By: Bryce G. Tanner

Photography: Rebeca Segal / George Blower

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Sexual Reproductive Health Class

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Sexual Reproductive Health Class

On Friday April 28th, Conscious Impact’s Education Team held another meeting of the Girls’ Empowerment Program at Nawalpur Secondary School. The program has reconvened with the start of the Nepali school year.

We hadn’t been able to meet for almost 4 weeks as school was out on holiday, which gave the team ample time to plan for this extra informative session. The meeting focused on knowledge surrounding sexual reproductive health — reproductive organs, sexual health, and the science behind menstruation. The girls who participated in the meeting ranged from the ages of 12 to 17. Even though visiting NGOs had previously done presentations on the same subject at the school, they did not describe in detail the scientific processes behind sexual intercourse or menstruation.

The session started by asking the girls what they knew about their bodies, how they managed their periods, and misconceptions regarding why menstruation happens in our bodies. The girls seemed a bit shy at first, but the reality was they actually knew so little about their internal anatomy. It was intensely rewarding to have the girls slowly become more inquisitive and engaged as they began to ask questions, and gave input about what they thought was happening when they experienced their cycles each month.

We were amazingly lucky to have access to educational materials (in Nepali!) provided by Days for Girls Nepal, an international NGO that focuses on providing sexual reproductive health education and menstruation hygiene materials, such as eco-pads, to women around the world.

We ended the meeting by having the girls chant in a circle, “I love my body,” in Nepali and cheer as we celebrated the beauty and power of ourselves as women.

The team is excited to continue meeting as many times as possible until the end of the season.

Written By: Alyson Segala / Alysonnoele.com

Photography: Johathan H. Lee

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10 Days in Takure

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10 Days in Takure

"I've discovered a small part of the country, I’ve met amazing Nepalese people who I’ve worked and celebrated a wedding with, and I have been impacted: not just by the majestic mountains and the exceptional food, but by a project which has shown me how it really is possible to make a difference and improve the world if one has a purpose and determination, as well as humility to achieve their goals.

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Project Update: April 25th, 2017

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Project Update: April 25th, 2017

"Today we stand with Nepal in remembering the 2 year anniversary of the devastating earthquake. Two years ago, the community of Takure was decimated by a 7.8 earthquake, destroying almost every home. Today, we remember the lives lost, the homes destroyed, and acknowledge the bravery and resilience of our Nepali community. To rebuild after tragedy is to emit great courage. every day we admire and respect the community of Takure for standing together with us and rebuilding their homes." -Conscious Impact

 

Housing and Village Reconstruction

On the 1st of April 2017, the government of Nepal approved CSEBs (Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks) and many other sustainable building solutions for earthquake reconstruction in Nepal. Families are now able to begin rebuilding with our bricks! Since the approval, we have begun construction on 5 homes in Takure and the surrounding community, while many more are in the design phase. Since the beginning of 2017 we have moved over 30,000 bricks from the training center to homes and projects around our community.

Community Center

The brick walls at the community center are complete and awaiting plaster. The roofing is to be installed this week and will be the final step in completing the structure.

Women’s Cooperative

The Women’s cooperative building is complete. The final coats of plaster have been applied, the inside building is painted, and the roof is installed. In the next few weeks, final details will be installed, including lighting and electricity.  

The Everest House Children’s Home

The walls at the children’s home are nearly complete. After the columns are finished the slab will be poured and the roof will be installed.

Sunita Tamang’s Earthbag Home

The second coating of plaster has been applied to Sunita Tamang’s earthbag home and the roof is being installed this week. Next week we will begin applying the final two coats of plaster, pour the slab, and Sunita will move into her home!

Agriculture

Coffee Cooperative

This week Conscious Impact with host Mandu Thapa, a representative of the Sindhupalchok, Coffee Cooperative in Nepal. She will spend two days at camp training local community members in organic coffee farming. Once the training is complete, community members can officially join the cooperative and begin planting their trees.

Spring Fundriaser

This spring, Conscious Impact will be launching our “More Than a Tree” campaign. Funds will support the farmers of Takure in their coffee cooperative and continue our agriculture program.

Education Program

Our women's empowerment program administered a 70 question survey to a group of young women at Nawalpur secondary school. The survey is constructed to asses what it means to be a young girl in this village and how we can address needs in the future.

We have started a pen pal program between the Takure Primary School and a primary school in Kent, England. The goal is to engage students from Takure with others around the world. We have begun video messaging between the children. 

Camp Construction

At Camp we are building permanent composting toilets. Our team has built two new toilet chambers from our CSEBs and bamboo. The final structure will incorporate a wall made from bottle bricks. We are upcycling trash from past volunteers into our very own toilets!

Training Center

This month we hired our first full time female employee, Chul Kumari. We are so excited to have her joining our all Nepali team at the training center. In addition, we are continuing to employ five women part-time every month for soil sieving. 

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A Boonvillian in Nepal: John Paula's Story

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A Boonvillian in Nepal: John Paula's Story

As someone who loves to work outside and with their hands, the work at Conscious Impact was so fulfilling. I was fortunate to be around during the construction of the rammed earth walls of the women's co-op in Nawalpur under the instruction of talented builders.

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The Orphanage: Building a Home for Children in Need

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The Orphanage: Building a Home for Children in Need

The 2015 earthquake in Nepal left hundreds of thousands of families without homes, and powerfully transformed the lives of millions of people across the country – none more effected than the children who overnight lost their families and their communities. On April 25th, 2015 hundreds of children suddenly became “orphans,” a concept previously unfamiliar. Many new orphans were taken in by aunts, uncles, older siblings or the community at whole, but others were taken to the nearby towns and cities looking for homes.

In the months following the earthquake, eighteen of these children were brought to Mother Sister Nepal (MSN), a non-profit located in Nawalpur, the largest town near Takure. Mother Sister Nepal has worked in the region for more than 5 years providing services to local women and children and has gained the confidence of the community. Now, following the earthquake, MSN was given a new mission: caring for these 18 children.

For the last 2 years, the children have lived in a temporary space on rented land about 1 hour walk from the Conscious Impact camp in Barigaon VDC. There they receive food, comfortable beds, clothes and most importantly a new family. The children range from 3 years old to 15 years old, and most attend school during the day. In the mornings and evenings, they are cared for by 4 young women from the local town, as well as Mina Thapa and her husband Umesh Adhikari, the founders and directors of Mother Sister Nepal.

Now, it is time for a new home. The land agreement is over and Mother Sister Nepal needs a new place to house these 18 children permanently. Fortunately, the government has provided a beautiful piece of property near the school, and the community has already donated more than $10,000 towards the construction of a permanent building. With the additional support of the VITA Association in Switzerland, Mother Sister Nepal is ready to build!

So, what is Conscious Impact’s role? Since the beginning, CI has been deeply involved in the design, engineering and resource management for the project. Our wonderful architect Frederick Dolmans of GroundUP with the support of architects Satwika Taduri and Oliver Atwood designed a beautiful building to meet all of the needs of the children’s home. With 8 rooms, a library, 3 toilets and a kitchen/dining hall, the orphanage will be ready to house as many as 30 children by May 2017. The project construction is being managed by Conscious Impact engineer Mariana Jimenez and a team of masons from western Nepal. The construction will use more than 10,000 of our Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEBs), made locally with sustainable materials.

Our hope is that this new orphanage will be a home to children in need for years to come, and will also represent one of the most beautiful and earthquake-safe structures in the region. If you would like to learn more about this project, get involved, or make a donation, please visit our website at www.consciousimpact.org or email us directly. Thank you to everyone that has helped make this project possible!


written by Orion Haas, co-founder

orionhaas.com • instagram • fb.com/orionhaas

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Conscious Impact's First Coffee Meeting

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Conscious Impact's First Coffee Meeting

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  On February 4th, 2017, over 50 members from the local community gathered in Conscious Impact’s garden. Woven mats lined the ground and cob benches. The coffee was poured and the doughnuts were frying. The moment was surreal. Countless hours of hard work from hundreds of volunteers had led up to this meeting. From the moment coffee was introduced, we were aware that there was an opportunity to provide sustainable income for the community through agriculture.

 In January of 2016 the coffee green house was built. A beautiful structure with 20 foot tall ceilings and welded steel beams. The entire structure was fundraised and built with love from our volunteers. What followed was months of coffee care. Volunteers and locals combined spent days filling bags of soil, each receiving a small coffee seed. Once the trees began to sprout volunteers squatted for hours weeding the thousands of bags. The bags were then moved and spaced out to where they will mature. Every week they are carefully watered.  After over a year of intense labor, here we were, with 8-10,000 coffee saplings and a community eager to invest.

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Our agriculture team was nervous, hosting a meeting in Nepal is not easy. You can’t send out an Evite to the whole community and expect them to show up. Instead we spent weeks walking door to door and speaking to community members about attending our meeting. Who decided to show up would be a direct reflection of how interested our community was in forming a cooperative. The worry faded as dozens of community members arrived with smiling faces.

What was surreal about this meeting was being surrounded by the people we idol the most. The farmers we meet with every week, community members who bring us their fresh produce, the families who have been farming this land for decades before we were here.  

We ended our meeting with those same smiling faces wandering through our greenhouse, admiring what has emerged of countless hours of hard work. Beautiful and healthy coffee saplings. Coffee and doughnuts were served with delight to all of our local friends and families. They politely told us the coffee was only good with nearly half a cup of sugar, the same way they drink their tea. They loved the doughnuts.

There’s a lot more work to come. We will continue to have meetings with the local community. We will provide them with proper training in tree maintenance. Our hope is to have a significant amount of our saplings planted by the coming monsoon season. That is going to be a lot of work for us and our community, but we are ready.

Thank you to all of our volunteers near and far who made this possible. To the dedicated people who provided our trees with water and sorted each coffee sapling to ensure it would survive. A special thank you to Elpis and Dora for supporting this project with your friends and family.  This meeting was successful because you were here. 

Written By: Bryce G. Tanner / Brycegtanner@gmail.com / Instagram: BryceGeralynn

Photography By: Jonathan H. Lee / Subtle Dream Photography / Instagram: Subtledream

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Cob Trash Bins in Nawalpur

Cob Trash Bins in Nawalpur

Ellen and Alyson came up to Nawalpur Secondary School to teach groups of students how to build with cob. After the environmental awareness workshop at the end of last month, they followed up the curriculum with helping the students to build trash bins on their campus out of cob. 

The intention of building with cob rather than buying a plastic trashcan, is that cob is a zero impact method of building that will not produce any more waste. The students had a fun, active day of mixing soil, sand, cow dung, clay, and straw to help construct bins that will hopefully reduce the amount of plastic and paper litter spread across their campus. 

The Power of a Journey

The Power of a Journey

"The powerhouse of positivity that is Conscious Impact - it’s volunteers, it’s employees, and its contributors - has shown to me that from negativity individuals from all cultures and walks of life have the ability to come together to create beauty and growth.

Takure School Field Trip

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Takure School Field Trip

We hosted the Takure Primary School children at camp for a on-site field trip. In the tipi, we gave the children a short orientation about the history of Conscious Impact, and the reasons we focus on sustainable living. After a short lunch, we showed the students our composting system, talked about the importance of organic agricultural practices, and taught them how to properly plant fruit trees.

We then took the students to the Training Center, and showed the students how we locally produce CSEBs. We explained the importance of ethically sourced building materials, and how we hope to support the community by continuing to make and sell affordable bricks. 

The children clearly enjoyed all the ways they got to participate in daily camp activities. Hopefully it won’t be the last time they come to learn and help out.

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Women's Cooperative Update

Women's Cooperative Update

The completed ramed earth walls. Photo: Oliver James Atwood

The completed ramed earth walls. Photo: Oliver James Atwood

Incredible, incredible day at the Women's Savings Cooperative work site today - we have just finished the last blocks for the rammed earth walls! This rammed earth building has been designed specifically for the local women's savings cooperative office and meeting place in the nearby town of Nawalpur.

Our volunteers create a mix of 5 parts earth, 3 parts gravel, 1 part stone, and a little cement.  

Our volunteers create a mix of 5 parts earth, 3 parts gravel, 1 part stone, and a little cement.  

Volunteers toss CSEBs to each other. 

Volunteers toss CSEBs to each other. 

Nitzan and Maya of Back to Earth Community have been here and sharing their immense expertise and knowledge with dozens of Conscious Impact volunteers and our Nepali staff, local masons, and also 3 members from the KTK-BELT studio team in eastern Nepal. KTK-Belt had sent a small team here a few months ago to learn the process of making and curing Compressed Stabilized Earth Blocks (CSEB) with us, and last week they sent another group to learn the art of rammed earth. We are grateful for the massive energy and collaboration the large group is bringing each and everyday! 

Maya, Nitzan, and Allen pose next to the completed rammed earth walls.

Maya, Nitzan, and Allen pose next to the completed rammed earth walls.


The local masons will proceed in laying the compressed stabilized earth blocks (CSEB) for the interior wall, and pouring the lintel beam, a structural horizontal block on top of the rammed earth walls. Such a beautiful day out today working together in the February sunshine. Deep thanks to all supporters from near and far, volunteers, and community members who have contributed to this momentous milestone. Onwards! 
PS: Much love to everyone (in the name of Valentine's Day), today and more importantly, everyday

CSEBs are passed inside the structure to build the interior wall.

CSEBs are passed inside the structure to build the interior wall.

Written/ Photos by: Jonothan H. Lee

Instagram: Subtledream

Connecting Community Through Agriculture

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Connecting Community Through Agriculture

Shyam Katuwal beams with joy as he hands us yet another bag of ginger to take home. He is proud to show us his farm, as he should be. The Katuwal family’s organic harvest is bountiful and they have put countless hours of hard work into it. The terraces are full of ginger, turmeric, potatoes, sugar cane, bananas, chard, and coffee. All growing in perfect harmony. His family knows how to farm to a degree of perfection I can only hope to one day understand. Our own vegetable garden is growing, but not in the same way as the Katuwal families', they know this land. They know the composition of the soil, they feel the changes in the climate, and they share the same concerns for the environment as we do. In this way, we are all connected. Visiting local farmers and connecting with families through their stories allows us to grow and connect even more as a community.

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In the foothills of the Himalayas, Takure is a village of farmers. Land is inherited through generations and is the most precious family belonging. Everyday we are surrounded by families that rely on farming to survive. Families walk their goats past The Training Center, strong men and women carry 50kg dokos of vegetables with no pause, and our tents look over terraces full of rice, buckwheat, and millet.

Local families of farmers have opened up to us in teaching about their practices. On our visits families show their land with pride and offer vegetables to taste. They tell stories of their lives before the earthquake and the hopes and dreams for their families now. In exchange we share stories of the faults of our own countries abroad. We discuss the damage chemical fertilizers and pesticides have caused in countries around the world. We discuss organic practices, climate change, and reforestation through coffee, cardamom, and other cash fruit trees.

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Our own vegetable garden is thriving thanks to the dedicated volunteers that care for it. Our farm is completely organic and we produce compost directly from our camp food waste. We have developed a system that guarantees as little waste as possible and we are working our hardest to leave no impact on the land. We use natural and organic fertilizers to combat ants, termites and aphids that become nuisance. By creating natural pesticides and farming organically we can see firsthand the struggles faced by local farmers when not using pesticides. We also teach our volunteers these practices to take home. People from around the world are introduced to organic farming, and can start their own vegetable gardens in their home country!

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I am thankful that the farmers are letting us into their homes and sharing their stories with us. Our farm visits and agriculture program have brought us even closer to the community that we admire so much. It’s about connecting with a community on a deeper level. I am grateful for the volunteers that come to Nepal eager to learn about organic farming techniques and implement them in their home country. I hope that one day our cultures from around the world are able to adapt environmentally friendly techniques and create healthy and sustaining agricultural communities.

Written by: Bryce G. Tanner / Photography: Jonathan H. Lee @subtledream 

Brycegtanner@gmail.com

Instagram: BryceGeralynn

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The First Sustainability Workshop at the Nawalpur School

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The First Sustainability Workshop at the Nawalpur School

Alyson and Ellen taught a workshop on environmental awareness and sustainability at the Nawalpur Secondary School with a group of 7th graders. The focus of the workshop was to go over basic environmental science concepts, like the carbon cycle and the difference between biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials.

The workshop was a great opportunity to engage local Nepali teenagers and ask them what they know about local waste management practices and allow them to brainstorm ways it can be improved. As our first time at the Nawalpur Secondary School, it was a great introduction to interacting with older age groups in our area, and inspiring future programming that promotes sustainability and green values in the next generation of young Nepalis. 

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Painting The Takure School

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Painting The Takure School

At the beginning of the new year, the Takure Primary School teachers invited us to help paint one of their new classroom buildings that was constructed by PLAN UNICEF last Spring. We came down in the morning with a large group of volunteers from our 10-day build and set to work! 

We allowed groups of students to take turns and help us so they could participate in making their place of learning a little more colorful! As you can see from these photos, the kids had a wonderful time engaging in a play-oriented activity that contributed to the beautification of their school. Our goal with the education program is to continue doing activities with children that promote creativity and independent thinking in traditional school spaces. 

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