By Tom Hanlon Wilde, West Coast Sales Manager
We didn’t get lost physically, but 10 years ago our delegation of store managers from the Western U.S. spent a week with the farmer members of Aguilayoc, a village-level co-operatives that is part of COCLA. After two nights staying in the homes of our host families, harvesting coffee in the day and sharing meals at night, our groups was overwhelmed with hospitality and kindness.
We came back from that trip, but part of our hearts stayed lost in Peru. Even now when I go out each morning to feed the chickens, I call to them with the “tuk-tuk-tuk” that host Juana Pezo Suero used to call her birds. Sparrow Johnson, the manager of the New Leaf Market, in Santa Cruz, California, insists that “crema de licheroga”, given to her by her hosts Emilio and Julia Huillca, is the best remedy for bug bites. “I’m actually a bit nervous about going back,” explains Sparrow, “because the first trip was so magical that nothing could live up to it. I’m glad Emilio is doing well.”
“Has it really been 10 years already?” asked Eric Stromberg, the General Manager of the Davis Food Co-op. Since travelling with the first delegation in 2001, Eric and the staff at the Davis Food Co-op have taken a leading role in building co-op to co-op relationships, including offering fair trade bananas at the store and becoming a founding member of P6 Co-operative Trade Movement. Eric’s host on the first trip, Enrique Mellardo, is co-ordinating the anniversary visit in June 10th Anniversary Tour to the village level co-operative called Aguilayoc, which means Place of the Eagles.
We are looking forward to going and seeing how much has changed in the past 10 years.
How has your relationship with family farmers changed over the last decade? Share your experience here, and we’ll send you some of the fabulous organic coffee we bring back from our trip.