Casimiro Garcia López and Reyna Petronila Luna have a 20 hectare farm just outside the town of San Agustin Loxicha in Aguacate, Oaxaca, Mexico. Approximately eighty years ago, Casimiro’s grandfather was among the first farmers in this region to transition from raising cattle to growing coffee. With plants from the Pluma Hidalgo community in tow, Casimiro’s grandfather and a few others trekked up to Loxicha, a two-day trip on mule, and established their own parcels entirely made up of this quasi-mythical variety named after its town of origin. Today, the Garcia López family has one of the largest farms in the area, and Pluma Hidalgo continues to be their only variety, distinguished and cherished for its sticky sweetness, crisp acidity, and elegant balance in the cup.
Casimiro and Reyna’s adult children contribute to the family business in a variety of ways - farming, networking, marketing, and staying engaged with best practices through ongoing business education in Oaxaca City. While all of this certainly helps the farm stay in such excellent shape, it is also an encouraging example of a rural enterprise gradually and amicably transitioning to a younger generation, an increasingly rare transition throughout the world. When we identify supply chains where this appears to be taking place in a positive and constructive manner, we’re thrilled to support them. In the case of the Garcia López family, we are confident that this cross-generational collaboration is positive because we know that it is taking place in addition to off-farm education, pursuit of alternate income, and that the adult children’s involvement has directly helped the family earn farmgate compensation roughly 70% higher than the average local benchmark by working with our importing partners, Red Fox, who maintain perennial presence in Oaxaca. In an interview conducted earlier this year, Casmiro’s oldest son, Omar, conveyed to Red Fox that he hopes to own his own farm in the near future, to continue innovating, and to pass on the pride that he takes in coffee production to his own children. These are encouraging sentiments to hear first hand, and we are also optimistic that the López family’s sustained success will resonate with neighbours, some of whom have already begun selling their own cherries to Casimiro and Reyna for processing, thus easing their way into this supply chain without significant investment just yet.
Especially throughout the pandemic, labor for picking and harvesting has been the primary challenge for farm owners throughout the world, but the Garcia López family remains ambitious about the future. In the seasons ahead, Casimiro has mentioned that he hopes to replant and renovate some sections of their farm, install additional raised beds for drying, and experiment with anaerobic fermentation - a processing nuance gaining some popularity in the roasting and cafe scene in Mexico. And finally, when it’s not busy-season among the coffee trees, the Garcia Lopez family also operates a blacksmithing operation. A family affair, through and through.