An Organic farmer in Nicaragua shared his struggle to maintain a farm with two visiting Lutheran students on a Fair Trade mission.
Surrounded by bigger coffee farming interests, organic farmer Martin Vincente Padilla impressed the students with his dedication to the environment.
The two Northern Michigan University (NMU) students - Lisa McCarthy of Greenville, WI and Sarah Swanson of Rapid River, MI - are giving presentations across the Upper Peninsula on their recent Lutheran World Relief trip to Nicaragua during which they met with coffee farmers and learned about fair trade.
In part three, the students describe how the women of Nicaragua are treated with respect, the importance of families and the environmental protection efforts of one Nicaragua's organic farmers.
As members of the NMU EarthKeeper Student Team, the students were touched by the story of farmer Martin Vincente Padilla, a father of four who grows organic coffee and avocados in Matagalpa.
"Farmers come to him to get training on how to farm organic grain," McCarthy said.
"He said being an organic farmer isn't just something you do, you have to change you ideas and thoughts about farming," McCarthy said. "To be an organic farmer, you can't just go through the process."
"He was just so proud of everything he had and how his family has struggled for their land because there are big huge coffee companies directly next to him - surrounding him and his land."
"He had to fight for seven years in court to keep his land and take back what they had taken from him," McCarthy said. The neighboring farms are not organic "so he put up barriers like rows of coffee to absorb all the chemicals so they don't get to his."
"It was so amazing, he had an area for livestock, an area of growing fruit trees," McCarthy said.
"Everything was self-sustaining on the land, they don't have to go out to get anything, any food, anything, He grows everything there. He makes his own organic fertilizer from the remains of the coffee cherries. It was just amazing to see."
The NMU students among 13 Americans on Lutheran World Relief Study Tour.
The group visited the capitol of Managua, and villages of Matagalpa, Jinotega and La Reyna.
Fair trade ensures fair wages, protects women's rights and human rights plus fights poverty.
At the peak of the coffee harvest, the students visited many aspects of the industry including dry mills, wet mills and coffee cooperatives.
They spoke on Jan. 13, 2009 to a group at the St. Mark's Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Marquette, MI.
Nicaragua Organic Farmer Martin Vincente Padilla:
LWR Study Trips
Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) at Northern Michigan University (NMU)
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
Northern Great Lakes Synod (NGLS)
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