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August 4, 2009

Windfarm Corporation
established in 1997 (the original form of business was started in 1987)

3-7-16 Shimoni-Nishi, Mizumaki-Cho, Onga-Gun, Fukuoka 807-0052

The Objectives of Windfarm

From official company literature:
We are a “slow joint-stock corporation that delivers organic coffee.” What does this mean?
It means that Windfarm Corp seeks to build a society, economy, and culture that places importance on life, with happiness, beauty, and peace for each person. We believe the important thing is life slowness and sharing. “Slow” means we take care of connections: among humans, between humans and nature, and with our own selves. Instead of demanding more money and more material things, we stop and think, feel nature, and enjoy the scenery. Forget about time and talk with others; take your time to share a meal with others. In this concept of slowness, we can find the true meaning of happiness.

Because of a past emphasis on economic growth over all other principles, human society has created global warming, desertification, the destruction of forests, chemical and nuclear pollution, and a gap between rich and poor. Even worse, this way of thinking has created a society lacking happiness for ourselves and future generations.

Windfarm’s challenge is to put a tiny drop of water on the burning forest, just like Kurikindi in the tale of the hummingbird. With such a thought, Windfarm is involved in fair trade to make a society where people care about life and live happily.

Why Fair Trade Coffee?

Windfarm_RyuichiNakamuraIn the 1980s, the international price for 1 kg of coffee was 312 yen, but by the end of 2001, the price had halved. In order to produce 1 kg, the estimated cost is 264 yen. Think about it. Although the international price plummeted to half its previous value, the price of coffee we buy at coffee shops hasn’t changed. If we spend 400 yen for a cup of coffee, only 8-10 percent of that price is going to producers. The rest of the profit is going to middlemen, exporters, roasting companies, distributors, marketing cost, tariffs, and taxes.

As a policy, Windfarm pays two to three times the international average, directly to producers. We also conduct tours and educational programs for Japanese customers to learn more about coffee-growing and the responsibility of consumers to support sustainable practices.

Windfarm currently sells to 300 cafes and shops inside Japan, and its brand-name and signature product, Carlos’ Coffee, are well-known among health-food people and stores throughout Japan. We also operate one café in Kyushu called the Akamura Slow Cafe Kurikindi. Windfarm maintains close relationships with mail-order natural food-buying cooperatives, including Green Co-op based in Kyushu, and Dai-ichi Mamoru-kai based in Chiba. Our capital holdings are … (financial information here?)

“Carlos’ Coffee:” Seeking a producer we can trust

In fair trade, the first challenge is to find producers we can trust. To these ends, we travelled many times to South America to find producers with the same goals as us. However, at that time there were many producers who claimed it was impossible to grow coffee without pesticides. Only a few grew coffee organically. Then, one day we met Don Carlos of Jacaranda Farm in Machado, Brazil. Through trial and error, his farm was trying to cultivate organic coffee. The biggest reason why Carlos started growing organic coffee was in order to protect life. Carlos realized the danger of pesticides after he saw birds dying when he spread chemicals.

In 1978, he started reducing the amount of chemicals used in his farm. By 1980, he had completely stopped using pesticides. Around this time, the yield decreased. But soon, the soil recovered, and he was able to grow delicious and safe organic coffee.

When Windfarm decides the price of a new product, a meeting is held between Carlos-san, the workers of Jacaranda Farm, and Windfarm. This ensures that the resulting price takes into account all the factors of production. In contrast, most coffee farmers sell through a dealer or broker, who buys at such a low price that expenses often exceed profits for the growers. Windfarm is also exceptional because it pays in advance for the products, which allows Jacaranda to invest in equipment and plan for the next year.

WindFarm_WithCarlosAfter Jacaranda sends us information about the farms, we share it with Japanese consumers. They write back and send their feedback on the product. Most coffee growers have no idea where their products are being sent, nor who is drinking it. The messages from Japan are precious to the people of Jacaranda (especially Carlos), and letters and postcards from Japan are posted lovingly adorn the Jacaranda office.

Since 1998, Windfarm has organized study tours for Japanese customers to visit Jacaranda Farm. Before he passed away, Carlos enjoyed giving these garden tours, and describing beneficial insects and other organic agriculture techniques to Japanese visitors.

Another project of Windfarm is investment in the first organic café in Brazil. The amazing thing is that in most South American coffee-growing countries, the real coffee bean is for export only: locals drink Nescafe or a similar instant, processed coffee. Nakamura and Windfarm realized that Fair Trade is meaningless if the best-quality coffee all exported out of the country. So they helped establish Terra Verdi Cafe, in Curitiba, the capital of Parana state. Since then, the number of organic cafes have grown and now there are almost 100 organic cafés throughout Brazil.

In 2004, Machado City was declared the capital of organic coffee, and Nakamura was named an honorary citizen of the city.

Tosepan Coffee from Mexico

Mexico was the first country in the world to start organic coffee cultivation. Mexican farmers are also pioneers in agro-forestry, a technique of mixing crops for both cultivation and soil protection. These mixed-growth forests are closer in composition to ancient forests and differ greatly from industrial coffee cultivation, which consists of huge plantations growing strictly coffee.

Inspired by these innovations, in 2003 Windfarm began a partnership with Tosepan Titataniske Cooperative. Tosepan is located in Puebla state, just a few hours from Mexico City and up twisted roads into the gorgeous green mountains. It is a center of indigenous culture, mainly Nahuatl descendants of the Aztec empire. There are also Totonaca people who have migrated from nearby Veracruz state, bordering the Gulf of Mexico. Both groups have long struggled with discrimination, loss of farmland, and the destruction of their culture, language, and beliefs by the Mexican government and other forces. Some parts of Puebla state are among the poorest in Mexico. In this environment, the native people of the town of Cuetzalan decided to form a cooperative to protect their wages, educate their children, and defend the natural environment of their ancient area. Thus, Tosepan Titataniske Cooperative was born. Tosepan Titataniske is a Nahuatl phrase that means Going Forward Together.

With the rise of multinational corporations throughout Mexico which were driving down coffee prices, Tosepan was determined to set and maintain a fair price for the farmers of Cuetzalan and the surrounding areas. They have various strategies to maintain economic sustainability of the cooperative. One strategy is the employment of agro-forestry, whose rich biodiversity allows co-op members to harvest coffee, allspice, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, mangoes, squash, and other crops all year round. Coffee is the central crop, and the rich taste of Tosepan Coffee originates on verdant hillsides tended by co-operative members who are educated in agro-forestry and organic agriculture techniques.

Another strategy is business diversification. Realizing that agricultural crops alone cannot sustain their ventures, the co-op leadership decided to build an guest house and use it to stimulate eco-tourism in the area. In partnership with Japanese experts in bamboo cultivation, they have established bamboo groves to supply sustainable and climate-appropriate building materials. Using this bamboo, they have built a three-story lodge overlooking a dramatic vista and offering full hotel services provided by local residents. Individual guest houses scattered throughout the compound boast green building innovations like recycled water and reclaimed stone for pathways.

All of Tosepan’s cooperative members are coffee farmers (the only exception is the local painter, whose acrylic works decorate Tosepan’s meeting rooms, offices, and guest house). Profits from their collective ventures go into projects like a free Montessori preschool for their children and a nonprofit local bank that provides micro-loans to initiate new projects. Leadership by women is one of the key principles of all Tosepan ventures.

Because of this holistic approach to community development, supporting Tosepan Coffee allows us to support not just coffee farmers but women, children, nature, and culture. This fits in well with the slow philosophy of Windfarm Coffee, and we are proud to partner with Tosepan Cooperative of Mexico.

Intag Coffee from Ecuador

The cloud forest in Intag region in Ecuador is one of the most biodiverse places in the world. At the same time, behind this rich forest is the crisis of copper mining development. In February 1999, we visited Intag Forest for the first time, and met coffee producers who are growing coffee following agro-forestry principles. They wanted to protect their forests from mining development. They know that once this mining starts, the forest will be destroyed, and in this forest there are so many diverse fauna and flora.

In the case of Intag, organic coffee was already being cultivated. But local farmers were fighting copper mining companies (including Japanese companies) for control of the land. But facing the loss of farmland due to mining interests, Windfarm played the role of investor to help the farmers continue cultivating coffee. It was necessary to set up a fair trade relationship with them in order to help the farmers realize their dream of agro-forestry that is sufficiently profitable to protect the land from development. In this situation, we realized that Fair Trade would be not just a business relationship but a human responsibility, since the cloud forest is our common inheritance on Mother Earth.

Within a year, we were able to begin importing Intag coffee and start selling it in Japan. However, the struggle continues to protect the land of the Intag Cloud Forest Reserve, which is constantly under threat from multinational corporations.

Products include:

Carlos’ Coffee (bean and ground)
Mild sweetness
Intag Coffee
Moderate acidity, slightly sweet
Tosepan Coffee
Rich taste, but with a refreshing aftertaste
Hachidori Coffee (Intag and Tosepan coffee blend)
Good balance of acidity and rich coffee tastes
Carlos’ Instant Coffee
Single-serving drip coffee
Cold-brew iced coffee

Organic Black Tea from Oats Farm in Southern India

Organic Ryokucha (steamed green tea) and Hojicha (roasted green tea) from Annapurna Farms in Kumamoto, Japan


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