Thank You, Bill Mares!

After 12 years of extraordinary service, one of the pillars of Food 4 Farmers is retiring from the Board of Directors. Bill Mares joined the inaugural Board of Directors for Food 4 Farmers in 2011, and in short order, became the main reason we implemented beekeeping as a livelihoods diversification strategy in our programs. In addition to being a proud beekeeper, Bill Mares is a well respected writer, former teacher, and legislator in Vermont. Early in his involvement with Food 4 Farmers, he told us that he had traveled to Central America several times and had witnessed how coffee growers were introducing beekeeping in their agricultural activities as an income generating strategy. Thanks to his leadership and insight, we partnered with Root Capital in 2013 to develop a beekeeping program with Maya Ixil, a coffee cooperative in Guatemala looking to help producers establish alternative sources of income. Later, Bill traveled with us to visit both CESMACH and Maya Ixil beekeeping programs and connected us with key people to help us refine and improve our approach to beekeeping in coffee growing communities. He used to call coffee and honey “the good marriage” because honey doesn’t require full time care or a lot of land to be managed, so smallholder coffee growers can start beekeeping with a small amount of investment.  

Ultimately, Bill has been a true friend and ambassador for Food 4 Farmers, supporting our work with his intelligence, insight, and dry sense of humor and passion. His generosity, willingness to work, and dedication to our mission has helped improve the livelihood of hundreds of coffee growers in Mexico and Guatemala through the production of honey and other products of the hive. Without him, Food 4 Farmers would not be what it is today.

In his own words…  “All good things must end, including my twelve years of service on the Food 4 Farmers Board of Directors. I first met Janice (one of Food 4 Farmers Co-founders) at “Let’s Talk Coffee ” in Nicaragua in 2009. Then, the next year I stumbled into the organizational brainstorm meeting of Food 4 Farmers consisting of her, Rick, and Marcela. It was my deep esteem for my good friend, Rick Peyser, that first impelled me to join the board after working with him on his book BREWING CHANGE. I couldn’t help but support him after he chose to turn words into action and confront food insecurity in the coffeelands. Throughout my service, I loved the organization’s consistency of purpose, the absence of ego, the range of people on the board, and our overall engagement in good works in Latin America. Personally, I was happy to help develop beekeeping programs which became a cornerstone of Food 4 Farmers’ work.”

We are forever grateful to Bill for his leadership, mentorship, expertise, and friendship over the last 12 years. While we will miss working closely with him as a member of the Board of Directors, Bill will remain a trusted advisor to Food 4 Farmers. Thank you for your service, Bill! We look forward to tasting your new harvest of honey soon!