Supporting sustainable economic development
and direct trade in Guatemala

The Farmers of San Miguel Escobar

The coffee cooperative we first started working with. We support them in everything entailed in coffee sales and export, as well as product development and financial and technological support. Today this cooperative includes over 2 dozen coffee farmers and an annual coffee production of about 15,000 lbs of coffee, grown on the slopes of the Volcán de Agua volcano.

  • andres-resized

    Andrés Lopez has been in the coffee cooperative for a little over a year. Last year he produced 150 pounds of coffee and is hoping to export 500 pounds this year plus sell 100 pounds in the local market. He joined the cooperative with 6 cuerdas (2 acres) of coffee. Through the small business loan program, he has purchased 2 more cuerdas adjacent to his field, bringing him to a total of just under 3 acres of land. He apprenticed as a coffee tour guide for almost a year, and since the beginning of 2012, he has been managing his own coffee tour business within As Green As It Gets.

    He has been elected to the co-op board of directors, and now helps out with business issues like santitary licensing.

    His wife, Elma Catalina, has also joined the AGAIG family. She makes lunches for work teams and roasts coffee for her clients.

    Andrés has 7 children, Juan David, Carlos Andrés, Luis Fernando, Mynor, Renee, Miriam Angélica, Melvin Alexander, and Cindi Lucretia. All of his kids work alongside Andrés in the coffee business. Carlos Andrés, now 21 years old, is getting ready to launch his own coffee business just like his father.

  • Alberto and Family-resized

    Alberto Hernández is the fastest growing producer in the As Green As It Gets cooperative. Before joining the team, he had only one eighth of an acre of coffee to support his family. He had to work as a waiter to make ends meet. As Green As It Gets brokered two separate loans for the coffee cooperative for the purchase of land. Through these loans, Alberto purchased 1 1/4 acres over two years. His new coffee isn’t in production yet, but when his plants are mature, he will have increased his production by a factor of ten. Alberto is thinking ahead to provide for his family of eight. He’s already built a large drying patio next to his house and recently purchased a pulpero - a bicycle-powered machine that removes the coffee fruit from the bean. This purchase was made possible through an small business loan from an As Green As It Gets supporter.

  • aura-resized

    Aura Marina Gomez Perez de Roldan has lived in Ciudad Vieja her whole life, as have many generations of her family before her. She's a hard worker who persevered to finish the 6th grade, which is four more years than the average for her demographic. As a child Aura worked on coffee harvests for her uncle, becoming experienced enough to be able to harvest 150 pounds of coffee a day. Aura is the proud mother of four children: Joel Alejandro, Natalie Lordes, Aura Regina and Maria Guadelupe. She and her husband, Joel, live in a two-room concrete block house loaned to them by Aura's mother. They have just a spigot as their source of water, and must go next-door to a relative's house for bathroom facilities.

    Aura hopes that her foray into the world of coffee will help her create the life she desires for her family. Though new to coffee, she will soon have her first quarter of an acre in production, and over the next few years will acheive more than a full acre of production. She's raising only Bourbon coffee, an heirloom Ethiopian variety.

  • danielle-resized

    Daniel González is father to nine children. Daniel and his wife, Maria, support their family primarily off a small plot of Bourbon coffee.

    Though his children range in age from eight to 22, every member of the family has their own business. His youngest daughters sell vegetables each day. His wife, Maria, and older daughters sell tamales and traditional Guatemalan fare each evening in front of their home. His two sons run a small barbershop on the family's property. Even the youngest boys collect seeds from local trees and sell them to As Green As It Gets for reforestation programs. Through earnings from his coffee business, Daniel has been able to improve his family's living conditions from a cornstalk home with dirt floors to a concrete block house. He has also installed a flush toilet, shower and handsink. Recently, Daniel's family built a new fence and installed a double gate to protect their property.

  • eduardo-resized

    Eduardo Hernández has been a member of the cooperative for three years. When he joined he had five cuerdas (nearly 3 acres) of land, only two of which were planted with coffee. Since then he has added one cuerda of land for a total of six cuerdas (3 acres), and has planted coffee on all of them. Last year he exported 150 lbs of coffee.

    Eduardo has been living in Ciudad Vieja his whole life. Though he is new to coffee, he has many years of experience working in agriculture. His family has expanded in unexpected ways. About a decade ago he found a newborn baby in a box on his street, the umbilical cord still attached. He and his wife named him Moises and made him a member of the family, and have been proud parents ever since.

  • Felix and family-resized

    Félix Porón was the very first farmer to join As Green As It Gets. With money he earned from coffee sales, he has built his family a two-room concrete house with electricity, running water and a flush toilet. In his five harvest seasons with As Green As It Gets, he has managed to purchase and plant approximately five additional acres of coffee through small business loans and his own profits. He has also built his own coffee drying patio, three concrete fermentation tanks, and coffee warehouse. His daughter's education is also funded by his coffee business.

    Félix lives in the town of San Miguel Dueñas with his wife, Marta, his daughter, Evelyn, and his son Erich.

  • Filiberto Coffee Farmer

    Filiberto Salazar is the best known of all the farmers in the As Green As It Gets community. For years, he has been inviting people into his home to share breakfast with his family before taking a two hour hike up the volcano to his land. There he recounts the story of how he was virtually held hostage for two years during the civil war.

    The civil war now behind him, Filiberto is working hard to support his large family. Their home is made of cornstalks and tin, held together with barbed wire and love. Two years ago, Filiberto planted 1800 coffee plants, primarily on his own land, but also on a small quarter-acre plot made available through As Green As It Gets. One year ago, he planted an additional acre purchased under the same program. He has also increased his coffee production through a creative contract of renting and tending productive coffee land from owners who are unable to farm any longer.

  • fredy-family-resized

    Fredy González farms a mix of Bourbon and Caturra coffee a half hour walk from his home in San Miguel Escobar. He has had a tough time supporting his nine children, but they have all pitched in to help. Each of his children above the age of 10 now works or runs their own small business.

    Fredy and his wife Telma have taken advantage of development programs in the area. Thanks to two programs, Common Hope and ConstruCasa, he has three buildings on his property; one made of concrete, one made of concrete fiberboard, and one made of cornstalks. Fredy has recently paid off his ConstruCasa home loan through earnings from his coffee business.

    Fredy has donated a little bit of his scarce space at home to the As Green As It Gets cooperative. He houses the trilladora machin, which removes papery coffee husks, and gives tours of the entire coffee process several times a month.

  • froelan

    Froelan Minas is an agricultural worker from San Miguel Escobar. He has one and a half cuerdas (1/2 acre) of land planted to Arabica coffee; 85% of the Bourbon variety and 15% Caturra. His land is just over a mile above sea level, on the side of Volcán Agua. He has been working with coffee for four years. Froelan has dedicated his whole life to agriculture. In addition to coffee, he cultivates corn, beans and flowers. But Froelan is also a family man. He and his wife, Aura, have five children: Marvin, Sandra, Selvin, Juan and Evelin.

  • gabrielGabriel Minas has spent his whole life in the fields culivating corn, beans and flowers. He has been working with coffee for the last five years, and two years ago planted one and a half cuerdas (1/2 acre) of his own land to coffee. All of his coffee plants are of the Bourbon Arabica variety. Gabriel's land is more than a mile up the slopes of Volcán Agua, so he and his father share a horse to help carry produce down to the village of San Miguel Escobar, where Gabriel lives with his family.

    Gabriel and his wife, Maria, have three children: Merbelin, Blanca Lydia and Danilo.

  • Gregorio

    Gregorio Gomez Morales has lived in San Miguel Escobar his whole life. He recently joined the coffee co-op as a way to supplement his carpentry business. He is looking forward to making use of the 10 cuerdas (3 1/3 acres) of coffee that he planted a few years ago. Last year, he had a small first harvest and is ready for a heavier harvest this year, now that his coffee plants are more developed. His entire plot is planted with the Bourbon variety of Arabica coffee. Gregorio and his wife, Maria del Carmen Reyes, are the proud father of three sons and two daughters.

    He started out in life as a farmer, helping his father grow corn and beans. Later, he decided to study to become a carpenter, a skill which he has been developing for the past 30 years. He is now teaching his children and nephews to do the same. However, business is unpredictable and so Gregorio is glad to be entering the world of coffee. He’s glad to have made friends with other coffee farmers and hopes to learn more about coffee processing and improve the harvest quantity and quality each year.

  • lesbia-copy

    Lesbia Cecilia Camargo has been a member of the cooperative for less than a year. She has not yet had the opportunity to purchase her own land, but she received a small business loan to purchase coffee fruit from her neighbors. In that manner she was able to export coffee for the first time in 2011, and exported one full 150-pound sack of green coffee. Though new to the cooperative, she was recently voted onto the board of directors, and is one of two women who help guide decisions made by the cooperative.

  • Martha-resized

    Marta Salazar Zuleta owns one cuerda of land (1/3 acre) about an hour and half hike from town. She holds land adjacent to that of her brothers, which allows them to work together farming their coffee. Marta's own coffee is not yet in production so she has planted herbs with her coffee, such as mint, lemongrass, peppermint and citrus trees, from which she makes and sells artisanal teas. She is the mother of two children and, following her husband’s accident as a lineworker for the electric company, Marta has become the principle breadwinner for the family.

  • Mercedes-resized

    Mercedes Perez is a pure campesino de cafe, with two cuerdas (2/3 acre) of land planted entirely to coffee on the slopes of Volcán Agua. His plants are four years old and are all shaded by gravilea trees. Mercedes and his wife, Angela, live in the village of San Miguel Escobar. They have three children: Silvia Patricia, Lilian and Lidia.

  • miguel-copy

    Miguel González stays young walking 30 to 90 minutes up hill to his small plots of land scattered around the slopes of the volcano. He was born into a family of 12 brothers and sisters, and has had 12 children of his own, all of whom pitch into processing coffee.

    Miguel has been a small businessman all his life. For their honeymoon, he and his wife started a small chicken operation, saving enough money to buy two chickens. Through careful planning and management, they have grown the business to as many as 500 chickens. He now uses dried coffee husks as bedding for the chickens before returning the husks and chicken manure to his coffee fields. Pictured right is Miguel on land he recently purchased to enlarge his coffee plantation. The purchase was made possible through a small business loan from an As Green As It Gets supporter.

  • timoteo-copy

    Timoteo Minas has five cuerdas (1 2/3 acres) of land on the side of Volcán Agua. He has planted primarily Bourbon, the heirloom variety of Arabica coffee. He works the fields primarily on his own, with the help of his horse, Coyote, to haul compost up the volcano, and to bring coffee fruit back down.

    When not working in the fields, Timoteo works as a bricklayer. Recently he has been using his skills to supervise construction at the recreation space he is donating to the San Miguel Escobar community with fellow farmer, Filiberto. Timoteo lives with his wife and six children in a concrete home he built with his own hands, practically a brick at a time.

  • Virgilia-resized

    Virgilia López joined the cooperative less than a year ago. She received an inheritance from her parents of one cuerda (1/3 acre) of land, and has been training in coffee processing under her father-in-law, who is a cooperative member. In 2011, she exported her first full 150-pound sack of green coffee. She was also recently voted onto the board of directors, and serves as one of two women leaders on the cooperative's decision-making body.