Coffee – What Does It Have to Do With Bird Conservation and Saving Family Farms? by Bill Wilson, Co-Founder, Birds and Beans Coffee
By simply drinking the right coffee, coffee lovers can help preserve over 250,000 acres of prime tropical habitat and biodiversity, save birds, family farms, workers jobs and the Earth we all share.
Coffee – what does it have to do with bird conservation and saving family farms?
Everything! The Smithsonian’s Birds Friendly ® coffee certification is the world’s first and only scientifically backed shade-grown coffee certification.
Three-quarters of the world's coffee farms destroy forest habitat to grow coffee in the sun and typically use harmful pesticides and fertilizers that poison the environment. When forests disappear, migratory songbirds disappear, too. In order to combat bird species population and habitat loss, Smithsonian scientists created the Bird Friendly certification. Sun coffee single crop plantations are eco-deserts that destroy critical habitat and replace the small family holdings that are natural refuges and the backbone of local rural economies in the coffee lands.
Bird Friendly certified coffee grows on family farms under biodiverse shade that provides habitat for migratory songbirds and other wildlife, sequesters carbon and fights climate change. Certification standards cover everything from canopy height to insect biodiversity to protect the wildlife that lives where coffee is grown. Bird Friendly coffee is also certified organic, meaning it is grown without pesticides, herbicides and toxic artificial fertilizers.
In 2008 Scott Weidensaul, David Pritchard, Madeleine Pengelley, Bridget Stutchbury, Kenn Kaufman, Bill McGonigle and the Wilson family launched the Birds & Beans coffee brand in the US to revitalize the Smithsonian Bird Friendly® shade grown organic coffee certification and bring a truly 'good coffee' back into the United States. The Smithsonian Bird Friendly® certification is independently considered the best guarantee of environmentally sound, sustainably grown coffee farming.
For over 200 years full and partial shade farming was the traditional method of coffee production. However the industry's boom in the last 50 years has resulted in the conversion of traditional shade farms and tropical forests being cleared of trees and understory for industrial agriculture. Full-sun farms elicit a higher yield and require less management creating bigger profits for big business but less income and work for local farmers and farm workers.
For migratory birds and local wildlife the result of these clearances is major habitat loss. Now less than 40% of coffee farms remain in true shade and organic agroforestry. The human cost is that many coffee workers must move to find work and fair wages as this increased demand for coffee has led to lowered standards. But by simply drinking the right coffee, coffee lovers can help preserve over 250,000 acres of prime tropical habitat and biodiversity, save birds, family farms, workers jobs and the Earth we all share.
At Birds & Beans coffee we pay our farmers the top price for coffee so they can keep growing coffee the old-fashioned way and so they can keep supporting their families and workers.
Join the Western Cuyahoga Audubon Bird-Friendly Coffee Club!
Order Shade Grown Coffee online at the Western Cuyahoga Audubon Store (selections below) or download the order form to send a check here. Coffee can also be purchased at monthly Chapter Member and Speaker meetings here.
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The Feathered Flyer blog publishes human interest stories about birding and habitat conservation.
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