By CFSA | Friday, Aug. 31, 2018 – 

Tractor at Lomax

At the Elma C. Lomax Farm in Concord, CFSA interacts with farmers at various points in their careers. A quick glance through the events held at Lomax through the last year included sustainable agriculture classes offered by Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, workshops presenting research on high-tunnel and field production, volunteer days, and field trips for elementary and middle school students. This is all in addition to the Farmer-in-Training program, where farmers use the Lomax equipment and land as they are establishing their own business and looking for land of their own. 

However, as we interact with farmers of all points in their career at Lomax, we don’t have a lot of exposure to one specific type of farmer: the coffee grower.

S&D Coffee and Tea, headquartered in nearby Concord, NC, works with farmers across the world to source coffee. While working with coffee farmers on training and resources to implement sustainable practices, S&D was struck with the similarities between coffee producers in Nicaragua as well as Farmers-in-Training at Lomax. 

Coffee Producers in NicaraguaCoffee Producers in Nicaragua

From “One Bean, Two Farmers” on S&D’s blog:

Our coffee beans originate from farms around the globe, such as La Curva in Nicaragua, owned by a young coffee producer Oliver Efren Vasquez. Like many coffee farmers, Vasquez has access to farmland but lacks modern agricultural training and resources to optimize the fertility of his soil. Farmers like Vasquez face climate challenges that threaten the viability of their farmland, forcing them to be more productive on existing land and to cut costs to maximize profitability. These obstacles are driving away many next-generation farmers.
S&D helps our farmers through partnerships with local agronomists and soil labs, services available to the nearly 5,000 farmers who participate in S&D’s Raíz Sustainability®. Expert local partners on the ground in Nicaragua help Vasquez improve the fertility of his soil and cut costs on fertilizer. Raíz producers in Antioquia, Colombia, benefit from a soil lab built by delosAndes Cooperativa, along with financial support from S&D.
“Before I started working on this project, I didn’t know what a soil analysis was. We have improved everything we know about coffee production, from chemical management to handling residual waters, to protecting the flora and fauna,” said Vasquez. “Through both the soil and water analysis, we are getting the necessary nutrients to the plant so that it can achieve a better quality and outcome.”


Back at Lomax, farmers are also overcoming challenges, whether it is through looking for available and appropriate land, soil testing, or additional training. But the connection between the coffee producers and the Farmers-in-Training don’t end there. Spent coffee grounds from S&D also have been utilized at Lomax, and help the farmers there with their understanding of soil fertility. 

Washing produce at Lomax

Washing produce at Lomax

While CFSA works with S&D as they implement some of their corporate sustainability initiatives into practice, the partnership also demonstrates how the distance between farmers across the globe is not as large as it might seem.