Colin Shenton had been visiting St Vincent and The Grenadines for over 20 years. The vibrant people, the beautiful landscape and the Vincy way of life kept Colin coming back every year after his first visit.
Whilst enjoying a cup of coffee in one of his Ziferblat branches, an award winning shared sitting room concept he introduced to the UK in 2015, a crazy idea struck. The world’s palette for specialty coffee was growing rapidly, as Ziferblat expanded each branch consistently required a sizeable coffee supply and St Vincent had the perfect agricultural skills and resources to cultivate exceptional coffee. Commercial coffee production would be a first for St Vincent and allow him to embark on an exciting new venture, marrying his love for this beautiful country with an international opportunity.
After a lot of careful planning and research, in May 2016 Colin visited St Vincent to put in motion an idea he’d had the year before. Accompanied by Operations Manager Gary Blackman, he signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the SVG Ministry of Agriculture (MAFFRA) to begin operations for Shenton Farms. They agreed on an innovative new model where, instead of Shenton Farms owning land, each farmer who signed up to the programme would receive trees, resources and support for free. In exchange for planting and cultivating the crops, Shenton Farms would guarantee purchase of the farmer’s coffee cherries at the current market price. Easily intercropped in shaded areas on existing farms, the coffee trees would last for years to come and provide substantial employment and economic security for hundreds of Vincy farmers and their families.
As part of this agreement, MAFFRA gave Shenton Farms access to its facilities at Orange Hill: specifically, permission to use two of the shade houses at the site. In August 2016 Sam and Resty joined the in-country team as Project Manager and Office Manager respectively, closely followed by the recruitment of five staff to run the nursery at Orange Hill in September. Philemon Allen completed the current team, joining as the Senior Extension Officer in November.