To kick off our Good Coffee Doing Good program, we partnered with our friends at Long Miles Coffee Project to support their Trees for Kibira endeavour.
A climate change survey in 2016 targeting coffee in Burundi projected that by 2030, 90% of Burundi will no longer be viable for coffee growing. This alarming statistic catapulted the Long Miles Team into action, and the concept for Trees for Kibira was born. The project aims to renew, restore and extend Burundi’s only indigenous forest. In doing so, this will rejuvenate farms, empower farmers to grow coffee sustainably, protect the land and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Below, we summarise the incredible work of the Long Miles Team and the Trees for Kibira project.
Founded by American couple Ben and Kristy Carlson, Long Miles Coffee was born in the lush coffee producing country of Burundi, East Africa. All over Burundi, Ben and Kristy saw farmers being taken advantage of by a broken coffee system, with poor farming practices also keeping farmers in poverty. They saw an opportunity to improve people’s lives by improving the quality of the coffee they produced.
While dreaming of great coffee and a better future for farmers, they built their first washing station in 2013 and second station ‘Heza’ the following year in the small sub region of Nkonge Hill. They also planted their first coffee farm - an encouragement to the hundreds of small holding farmers in the surrounding area.
Today, the Carlsons reside in Burundi with their three children and are committed to their goal of changing the landscape of coffee in Burundi and in turn, the livelihoods of the Burundian farmers and communities. We're extremely proud to partner with Long Miles Coffee Project and support the positive impact the team have been actively pursuing – and achieving – on the ground in Burundi.
"For the last fifty years, Burundi’s rich and unique beans have been lost in a sea of instant and grocery store blends. But now, grown and crafted with care, Burundi coffee is finding its place in the limelight. The underlying quality is undeniable and the producers’ desire to grow world class specialty coffee in this relatively young industry is exciting." - Long Miles Coffee Project
Despite Burundi's emerging recognition in the specialty coffee industry and a positive move towards a healthier working climate for coffee farmers, the country is facing a severe threat with changing environmental conditions.Some projections show that within the next couple of decades, more than 60% of possible coffee land could be unfarmable. Wide spread clearing and intensive farming has exposed the coffee nurturing micro-climates to the increasing effects of climate change and resulted in poor soil health. With coffee making up 59% of export earnings for Burundi, this has the potential to be extremely detrimental to the livelihoods of the coffee farmers.
The Long Miles Coffee Project team have long been dreaming of a reforestation project to counteract the scarcity of indigenous trees, acidic eroding soils and not nearly enough shade for the changing climate. Trees for Kibira is an endeavour to plant green belts of trees around every hill in Burundi where coffee is grown, mitigating the effects of the changing climate and encouraging the practice of sustainably grown coffee.
What is the Kibira Forest?
The Kibira is Burundi's only indigenous rainforest, tucked in the North-Western part of the country. The coffee that is grown and produced in Burundi depends on the cool micro-climates that the forest provides. There is an undeniable connection between the community of coffee growers in Burundi, the health of the soil that their coffee trees are rooted in, and the coffee we drink.
What's happening to the forest?
For years, the forest has been stripped of its natural resources and indigenous flora by surrounding communities. Trees have been cut down for firewood and land cleared by people living on the fringes of the forest, looking for food and land to plant crops. Since the early 1930s, the Kibira has shrunk in size from 50,000 to 30,000 hectares, and it's estimated that deforestation in the region is happening at the rapid rate of 9% per annum.
The aims for the initiative...
Trees for Kibira is an endeavour to see nutrients sewn back in Burundi's soil, healthier coffee trees, rejuvenated farms and the use of sustainable coffee farming practices. Green belts planted out from the Kibira will wrap around every hill where coffee is grown, binding precious soil and protecting natural water sources. Indigenous and agroforestry trees rooted in every coffee farmers' plantation will encourage the practice of shade-grown coffee.
Since its launch in 2018, the team have distributed 322,000 indigenous and agroforestry trees to 2,700 farmers. This has created a total of 406 jobs. Long Miles' vision is for all the 5,100 farmers that they work with to be included in Trees for Kibira. The goal for 2020 is to extend their reach from 2,700 to 3,500 coffee farmers.
(Above) What Trees for Kibira has achieved so far, and their goals for 2020.
Long Miles are endeavouring alongside their neighbouring communities of coffee growers, local administrators, community leaders, roasting partners and the Burundian Ministry of Agriculture & Environment to impact the environment that the Burundian families live, work and grow coffee in. Their vision is for the communities to grow their coffee sustainably and protect their land against the effects of the changing climate.
We purchased a beautiful coffee from Long Miles, the Burundi Nini, and pledged A$2.00 from every 250g sold to Trees for Kibira. The coffee was grown and produced by farming families in the northern province of Kayanza. It was such a delicious coffee; the cup was juicy and complex with a profile of blackberry, peach, mango, vanilla and cacao nibs. Through coffee sales and sales of our Good Coffee Doing Good t-shirts, we raised A$5320.00 to be donated to Long Miles' Trees for Kibira project.
Please note, this coffee is no longer available.
All photos by Long Miles Coffee Project.