While many folks in the U.S. (and Congress) are still coming to terms with the fact that climate change is a very real phenomena that we will have to come to grips with sooner or later, most small farmers have long since given up the luxury of this uncertainty as the changing climate is affecting both their crops and their livelihoods. Some of you have been reading about our small rooibos farmer partners in South Africa and the project that Equal Exchange is helping them implement.
Recently, we received this photo of the soil erosion control and “greening” project undertaken at the Heiveld tea court with assistance from Equal Exchange. Run-off water that would otherwise cause erosion is captured to provide water for indigenous trees, and surplus water is channeled into a surface dam. The trees will provide a green shelter belt for the tea court. Read more about this project, our rooibos farmers, Heiveld and Wupperthal, and Equal Exchange’s partnership with them here. For more information on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 recently passed by Congress, which includes funding for international climate change strategies, click here.
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Those of you who have been enjoying our delicious rooibos tea, purchased directly from the small scale farmer organizations of Heiveld and Wupperthal in South Africa, may also be familiar with the work that the farmers are doing to mitigate the effects of the warming climate on their production.
Equal Exchange has been supporting the farmers’ efforts through our purchases and through our Small Farmer Big Change Campaign. This year, we have committed $20,000 to support Heiveld and Wupperthal implement soil and water conservation, enhance biodiversity, and recapture indigenous strategies of natural resource management used by their ancestors.
We are very excited to learn that the Heiveld Co-operative has recently been recognized for its contribution to environmentally sound economic development and has been selected as one of 12 finalists in the 2008 BBC World Challenge competition. Now in its fourth year, World Challenge 08 is a global competition aimed at finding projects or small businesses from around the world that have shown enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level. The winner will receive $20,000 to invest in their project/business and two runner-ups will each receive $10,000. (more…)
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As the food we eat becomes more and more political, we begin to hear the story it tells. In too many cases, it is a story of environmental destruction and human despair.
The story of rooibos tea is no exception. It begins in the most infamous system of racial segregation in our planet’s history. The Apartheid era in South Africa was a direct extension of colonial policies designed to extract resources and profits from the land and local populations. The indigenous ethnic groups of South Africa were pushed off their ancestral homelands to make room for large-scale, colonial plantations. European magistrates and foreign businesses seized the now-famous gold and diamond deposits near Johannesburg, enslaving local populations to mine the shiny baubles that made De Beers a household name and South Africa the only “developed” nation on the continent. (more…)
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