Rainy season in SVG starts around July and lasts through to about the end of November. While the actual amount of rainfall varies a fair amount in this time, it is consistent enough that this period of the year represents the best time to plant seedlings in the ground, giving the young trees the best chance of adapting to their new life out in the field.
During the months that the nursery team are tending to the young seedlings, the field team are recruiting farmers. These farmers will be the custodians of the trees for years to come so it is vital to ensure that the lands and farming practices are suitable and complimentary to the large scale growing of coffee trees.
The field team go through a number of steps before they’re confident that a specific tract of land will be suitable for coffee. During an initial call with the farmer, the field team chat through the farmer’s motivations, ensuring they are aware that coffee is a crop that takes long (3 years) to bear its first harvest but that will last for decades, and hence be a generational investment. The key criteria the field team look for, however, is the altitude of the land as a proxy for ambient air temperature, and the presence of established trees and other crops.
Once the team are satisfied that a piece of land is suitable they arrange a visit to the land and, in conjunction with the farmer, conduct a site survey (what we call an IGV), to record all the pertinent information from altitude, wind exposure, and erosion risks, through geological features and established trees and crops, on to the size of the labour force vis-à-vis the size of the land.
Following a successful IGV, we’re two thirds of the way to planting out in the field, the final stage being to sign contracts…