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Reeve ‘Out and About:’ Reeve Consulting Visits Sustainable Coffee Plantation in Nicaragua

July 8, 2009

Selva Negra (Black Forest) Coffee is grown at 4,000 feet above sea level in the highlands of Northern Nicaragua. The estate has been producing fine Arabica coffee for over 100 years, with the tradition of shaded coffee which helps preserve the estate as virgin forest. At the farm they also operate a sustainable tourism venture that includes a resort, restaurant, coffee tour and grow vegetables and flowers for on-site consumption and commercial sale. In June, Kevin of Reeve Consulting visited Selva Negra to learn more about sustainable coffee and tourism.

Selva Negra is a privately owned farm that is not Fair Trade certified, since it is not a cooperatively owned and operated organization and is therefore not eligible for this certification. However, it does respect Fair Trade standards as well the Rainforest Alliance and Smithsonian Institute sustainable coffee standards. Their coffee currently holds the Rainforest Alliance “Eco-OK” label and, although not certified as “Bird Friendly,” the coffee plantations do fall into the ‘rustic’ and ‘traditional polyculture’ bird friendly shade gradient, the most bird friendly coffee plantation categories.

Quality social conditions are an important component in Selva Negra’s sustainability standards. The entire operation employs 400 individuals year-round and during the harvest season this number almost doubles with migrant workers. The quality of life of all the workers at Selva Negra appears to be quite comfortable and above average of many coffee estates. The employee’s benefits include:

• Housing
• Schooling
• On-site medical clinic
• Sponsored baseball teams and social events
• Skills training and conferences
• On-site convenience store

Selva Negra has been awarded the “Semper Virens” (Always Green) recognition in the International Ecological Summit in October 1995, and is a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. They are also working with the Rainforest Alliance to meet sustainable tourism standards which address both environmental and social conditions.

Selva Negra currently sells their award winning coffee across North America and can be found in select Whole Foods grocery stores. Visit http://www.selvanegra.com to learn more.

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