Thursday, November 15, 2012

Welcoming FTGU's Project Coordinator

From the Ground Up has a new Project Coordinator, Bhavin Trivedi, who will be assessing the needs, goals, and willingness of three coffee-growing communities in Nicaragua and looking for opportunities to start sustainable projects in Esteli and Matagalpa.

Bhavin hails from New Jersey, married a Colombian and is living in Managua. He is truly a Jack-of-all-Trades, with a background in consulting, management, sales, and engineering.

He enjoys dark roast coffee and his fantasy travel destination is Karakoram Mountains (by bus).

We are excited to have him on our team, be moving forward with the research stage and excited to start helping isolated and impoverished coffee growers!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Job Opening

A recent turn of events has me (Emily) expecting a baby and unable to live in Central America for three months during my first pregnancy. This leaves From the Ground Up with a huge need to get some hands on deck in Nicaragua as a Programs Assessment Coordinator! The position will be posted on within the next two weeks!

It is a bittersweet time as I would love to travel and see the faces of some isolated and resilient Latino coffee farmers, but I am thrilled to open the amazing opportunity to others.

We are looking forward to hearing back from the IRS regarding our 501(c)3 status so that we can start fundraising, selling coffee, and gearing up our programs into full-throttle. In the mean time, From the Ground Up is excited to do an assessment of three communities that have been recommended to us as the most isolated and impoverished coffee farmers. This way, we will be able to understand what the community WANTS and NEEDS rather than assuming we know what's best. Hopefully, this will build a strong foundation of understanding, strong relationships, and open communication.

I'm looking forward to see what the rest of 2012 has in store! Please let us know if you know someone who would be an awesome Programs Assessment Coordinator:)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Trip Postponed

Thank you for all being so kind and supportive this week! 

After canceling the trip to Guatemala on Monday, we received an email from Richard's old neighbor who lives in Antigua that said the area that I wanted to go to (alone) is very dangerous and many locals avoid the region due to the Mexican drug trade spilling into Guatemala. Not only that, but many websites warn against even going to Guatemala City (50% of the nation's murders take place there). 

I'm not sure what this will do to the post-poned trip, however, coffee is grown in eight major regions in Guatemala and so many farmers are still living below the poverty line. I am hoping (and so excited!) to launch diversification projects, micro-financed small enterprises, and value-adding training to isolated coffee communities.

In the meantime, we are looking for methods to be a self-sustaining organization here in the US to keep the International programs funded: 

1. Bicycle coffee cart
Photo taken from Bike Caffe
2. Selling coffee by the pound (already on our website)
3. Coffee truck (mostly for winter or bad weather days) 
4. Selling re-usable coffee bags for bulk coffee- like this one: 

Life sure is an adventure, isn't it? 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Caffeinating Portland

Urban Dictionary's definition: 
1. Caffeinating: The act of loading up on caffeine. 
"Raura's currently caffeinating in the break room."

Last week was the SPECIALTY COFFEE ASSOCIATION'S ANNUAL EVENT in Portland, Oregon where coffee gurus from all over the world come to discuss, learn, advise, and network about all things coffee. I decided to go to a few lectures and of course, the Expo floor. More to come on that later. Some highlights of the trip include: 

Latte Art Throwdown in Portland's Convention Center... these were pretty amazing works of art considering they had a few beers on stage with them. 
 We were NOT prepared for the weather. The forecast should just read, "Rainy...Always."
 A surprise guest spoke at the Opening Ceremonies: Mr. President of Honduras! Porfirio Lobo Sosa gave a lovely speech about coffee growing in his country and the families that are dedicated to the trade. He was speaking in his native language while the transcriber put his script on the big screen, which was pretty off, so the Spanish-speakers would laugh at a joke and then 20 seconds later the non-Spanish speakers would read it and laugh! Always fun. 

Also, our logo and website are complete! Thank you Karen at Good Work Group for doing an amazing job!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A fresh start

A few years ago I did a self-planned internship in Guatemala at a fair trade coffee plantation in the Western Highlands to learn about coffee growing and write my thesis on Fair Trade certification for my undergrad in Global Studies. In a little town called Columba, down a long, windy, dirt road, I found myself in a community called Santa Anita where 36 families made their living growing and selling coffee. They all lived in concrete houses with tin roofs, cooking over an open fire, and siting on the dirt floor. Since it was not harvest season, many men were looking for temporary work in bigger cities.
Jump forward three years, and I find myself trying to help those same farmers raise their quality of life, stay with their families, and give their children more opportunities. From the Ground Up is a not-for-profit organization that connects coffee growing communities to micro loans, assists in increasing the value of their product, and executes sustainable community projects for diversification.

We want to help the farmers, not create jobs for ourselves. That is why we are all unpaid. Yes, ALL volunteers. To us, sustainable development doesn't mean dependence on foreign organizations. We plan to lead coffee growers to opportunities, not hand-outs. That is the plan. PLEASE help us further our mission by sharing YOUR advice, experience, suggestions with us. 
Cheers, Emily