Tuesday, April 29, 2008

On Corn

Towards the end of my Peace Corps service, I made a punching bag . . . to punch. The cheapest grain at the time was corn. It was only about 17 DR pesos a pound (about . So I filled the bag with the dried corn. Dominicans eat corn seasonally. For example, Cha-ka is boiled and sweetened corn seasoned with cinnamon and cloves. It's really good during the 'colder' months. But corn is not a staple in their diet.

Last week Antonio, my coffee farm manager, called me. We talked about all the usual stuff. Progress of our crops: coffee - in 4th flower, avocado - ok, garlic - lost every plant so we planted beans. I like to check on local prices of things. Dominicans say the old price was yesterdays' price. Basic needs rise at about the same rate as petrol as they depend on each other. Antonio told me the price of corn has spiked to 100 DR pesos a pound. It was sitting at about 30 pesos several months ago, and now its over 3X that!

Now you can run your vehicle on bio-diesel and drink your coffee. Therefore if we are fueling ourselves on corn, what does that do to communities that subsist on corn? Their food just got 3X more expensive. I just wanted to give you a real life example of 'green' growing pains with understandable numbers.

Monday, April 21, 2008

How to become a farmer without getting your hands dirty!

Coffee farms are good for the environment; they have bio-diversity levels comparable to native forests; they don't require chemicals; they maintain the water table; shade and coffee trees convert CO2 to O2; they produce a healthy product that happens to be the second largest commodity in the world; and the quality coffee market is growing at about 20% a year.

I purchased my coffee farm in the Dominican Republic in July '07 and manage the farm from Atlanta GA. I have quality legal counsel, a surveyor I can trust, relationships with local governments and non-profits, and I know the quality coffee industry well enough to answer basic questions. Did I mention that I work for one of the most respected coffee roasters in the US - Batdorf & Bronson, dancinggoats.com?

Investors would be protected from liability because they would own a land holding company and I would manage the farm. Once the land is secure the investor has a hands free asset. Did I mention how beautiful this land is? Selling the coffee is not an issue because I would buy every bean and manage the harvest!

Depending on how much land you want, neighboring farms are for sale. I already sold the neighboring farm to the east. Investments would start at about $20,000USD to own your own coffee farm! Interested? Shoot me an email. इ

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Program Directors

It is funny how things come together. A few weeks ago two soon-to-be college grads approached me looking for opportunities to work abroad. Their names are Gray and Claire. They are both receivers of more genes than most people as they are smart, driven, ambitious, nice, healthy and attractive! I have known Gray for a couple years, but Claire was in the Dancing Goats Cafe and we happened to strike up a conversation.

With all the business aspects of my coffee farm and now import business, I'm not able to dedicate much time to the development projects I started (Education Fund, Eco-tourism Guides, Family Planning, Coffee Co-op Development). Gray and Claire are considering Peace Corps, but aren't sure about the 2 year commitment. I have all the contacts and projects to create a Peace Corps experience for them.

So we are talking of starting a non-profit managed, driven and directed by Gray and Claire. I only asked them to involve me in project design. Claire is excited to get the Education Fund established and Gray is going to help with forming the non-profit/foundation.