Poco Fundo. If Thomas Jefferson were alive, he would be enthralled with Poco Fundo. Or maybe he has been reincarnated in the form of Coop president and Luiz Adauto de Oliveira. Coopfam is short for the Cooperativa dos Agricultores Familiares de Poco Fundo e Regiao (Cooperative of the Family Farmers of Poco Fundo and Region) To avoid any ambiguity, this coop is also called the Associacao de Pequenos Produtores de Poco Fundo, or simply Poco Fundo. It is a fair-trade organic coop consisting of 250 farms with an average of 3-7 hectares. Poco Fundo represents a sustainable rural lifestyle built on fair prices and educated farmers. The emphasis of the coop is on quality of life; of bettering the community in which they live and of bettering the lives of coop members through education and through organic farming. They support several charity activities including after-school art classes for disadvantaged children, clothing drives to generate income to fund social programs for Poco Fundo’s less fortunate, and rural-urban school integration to provide diversity for the students. Their programs are not about hand-outs and neither are they. They are about creating dignity and self-respect and this is the mentality of their farmers as well.
The New Mill
Poco Fundo recently purchased a Danone Yogurt Factory and are in the process of of installing a mill. Here is a picture of the old factory/new mill. Pinhalense was there installing the equipment when I visited. Poco Fundo had been using 3rd party milling, and although the quality was high, they had to combine the small lots into larger lots due to minimum runs at the mill. With the new on-site mill Poco Fundo will be able to mill and separate coffee while maintaining farm origin. That means this next harvest, not only will you be able to buy Poco Fundo coffee, but for the first time you will be able to source from a particular farm. Poco Fundo is a definite stop on my July/August trip and I have asked that they prepare some blind cuppings with various farms. Casa Brasil will be one of the first to offer these farm-sourced coffees from Poco Fundo.
Here are samples separated by farm. Next harvest, the coffees will be available by farmer. I asked Adauto if producers of higher quality coffee would be paid a higher price by the coop. He responded “Of Course, that’s the idea.” Reward quality and innovation. This is not a coop of the “landed gentry type” looking for a marketing ploy. They are grounded in the reality of the plight of the small farmer. Despite their success, these farmers have about the margin of error as a brain surgeon. Unlike many coffee producers in Brazil, the majority of Poco Fundo’s members do not have wealth from other sources, whether that be heredity or large-scale agricultural diversification. They must make smart, informed decisions, and that’s why education is so important.
Poco Fundo has developed a computer lab and offers computer instruction. The theme is the same: information is empowerment, and they are very aware of this.
After School Art Classes
Poco Fundo supports a program that provides after-school art classes to disadvantaged children in the community. The idea is to foster the create talent of the kids and demonstrate to themselves of their talent. They are selling some of the art work to fund the program. These had already been sold, but I have contacted Renato about my interest in purchasing future works. Quite a lot of talent involved with these. Enjoy.
And the Artists at Work
Coopfam takes clothing donations and the proceeds from the sales goes to support the local school and after-school programs.
A Parting Shot From Poco Fundo