Taste of La Pita is a compilation of photographs of the Garcia-Díaz family in La Pita—a community of small-scale coffee farmers in the mountains of northern Nicaragua. This is where a cup of AgroEco® Nicaraguan coffee starts: in the hands of the Garcia-Díaz family and the 14 other families that compose the Denis Gutiérrez coffee cooperative.
In the first two weeks of 2014, I had the pleasure of living in La Pita. In the short time I had with the Garcia Díaz family, I was welcomed into their home with open arms. The family shared with me their experience as coffee growers in the midst of a crisis caused by la roya–a plant disease (known as coffee rust in English) that has drastically reduced the yields of their coffee plants.
The Garcia-Díaz home serves as a hub of the community where other families bring their sacks of coffee to be weighed, sold, and picked up by the UCA San Ramón. In years past, UCA trucks would arrive 3 times in one day alone to pick up the community’s coffee. The snapshot of La Pita that I experienced, however, was of a strikingly different reality. This year, the farmers have lost the majority of their coffee harvest. Israel Garcia has lost more than half of the coffee and his parcel of land. Other members of the cooperative—including his father Pastor Garcia—have lost their entire coffee crop.
The La Pita community members are currently preparing to renovate their parcels of land by planting new coffee plants—a process that will take 3 years for the plants to begin to produce coffee. Additionally, the families must generate alternative sources of income in order to survive. Two members of the Garcia-Díaz family have left the home to work in coffee and milk production in other departments of Nicaragua. Other members of the family walk to distant large-scale coffee plantations to pick coffee and return at night to supplement the small amount of coffee that they are harvesting this year in La Pita.
The family also hosts tourists and field study students through a program of 7 ¨mujeres alojadoras¨ (host women) in La Pita who are trained in food preparation for visitors. Furthermore, the Garcia-Díaz family is working with the Community Agroecology Network to cultivate a variety of food for the family’s personal consumption through the “Proyecto de Seguridad y Soberanía Alimentaria¨ (Food Security and Sovereignty Project).
“Es importante que los consumidores de café sepan lo que está pasando en nuestra comunidad… esperamos que nos sigan visitando para que vean las experiencias que estamos pasando como familias de la cooperativa Denis Gutiérrez.”
“It is important that coffee consumers know what is happening in our community… we hope that they continue to visit us so that they can see what we are going through as families of the Denis Gutiérrez cooperative.”
Take a virtual visit to the home of the Garcia-Díaz family with the Taste of La Pita photographic profile at http://www.pitanica.wordpress.com. To learn about AgroEco® Nicaraguan coffee and action education opportunities through the Community Agroecology Network, visit http://www.canunite.org. Contact Mara Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.