by Marcela Pino
On October 13, our program partners at the COMEPCAFE coffee cooperative, located in Cauca, Colombia, celebrated their first Feria de Semillas y Sabores, a monthly organic farmers market initiative that aims to give Food 4 Farmers program participants a platform to commercialize their products, while providing the local community with access to affordable and nutritious foods.
Food 4 Farmers started working with COMEPCAFE in 2015 with a group of 100 families, facilitating food security workshops, establishing home gardens, and training community promoters to support participating families in implementing diversification projects on their farms. The program now supports 386 families and with our guidance and the success of the home garden project, COMEPCAFE has recently prioritized helping member families market their products – like organic fruit and vegetables, eggs, corn, beans and value-added products like pickles, tamales and marmalades – through the creation of the farmers market events. The goal of the new market is that, in addition to being able to consume the healthy food they produce, families will be able to generate additional income from these products that they can use to purchase food essentials that they cannot produce themselves, helping them to overcome the months of food insecurity that they experience year over year.
These families farms are in isolated “resguardos” or indigenous territories, in 7 municipalities of the department of Cauca. In these remote areas, our model of using Community Promoters is particularly vital to bring technical assistance to producers and bring the voice of families back to the cooperative and to us.
For the inaugural Feria, COMEPCAFE’s Community Promoters collected produce and specialty items from 200 participating farms and assembled CSA style market bags, filled with various consumables, that were offered for purchase to the local community in the city of Piendamo, where the cooperative offices are located. COMEPCAFE has created a new market space within their offices to use as a point of sale, and they have also invited local businesses that might want to buy and sell the products to come and participate.
This effort is a great example of how Food 4 Farmers programs evolve over the years. We are proud of the creative solutions that COMEPCAFE is using to help diversify and grow the incomes of their members and look forward to accompanying in their progress.
In 2024 Food 4 Farmers will be raising funds to directly support the implementation and expansion of this monthly farmers market. If you or your business is interested in sponsoring this project please contact Jenn Staunton at firstname.lastname@example.org