Category: One BIGG Island in Space

In 2022, I was standing in front of an audience of about 1,000 people at the BIGGBY NATION SUMMIT when I made a very bold promise.  I said that we could guarantee that there would be no child labor involved in the production of any OBIIS certified Farm-Direct coffee.

It felt powerful to say those words out loud. It felt so good, in fact, that I said it again on that same stage in 2023. And I know the people that were there to listen to Bob and me give our OBIIS update really wanted to hear it.

There’s only one problem. I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Don’t get me wrong, I would like very much for that to be true. But it’s not how the world works in most of the countries where coffee is produced. I just didn’t know it yet.

What We Knew in 2022

The first time I made that grand pronouncement on stage, we had two Farm-Direct partnerships under our belt. One was with Living Hope, the orphanage in Zambia that started a coffee farm to make itself more sustainable. No child labor there. Check.

The second was with El Recreo in Jinotega, Nicaragua. They are a mid-sized farm of 180 acres, started by a highly educated, very socially minded family of (relative) means. We’ve told the story of Leana Ferrey witnessing her new farm’s first harvest in 1972, and the shock she felt when she saw so many coffee pickers arrive with their children, expecting them to work.

That wasn’t going to happen on her watch. So, she figured out how to build and run a school on the farm and insisted that no children work in the fields.

The Ferrey family’s legacy of providing education for the workers and the children in their community is truly inspiring. It’s one of the many reasons we fell in love with that farm and that family. No child labor there. Check.


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