Jon B. Rogers — President Jim Zelinski/Zelinski Public Relations
Pete Rogers — Vice President/Green Coffee Buyer (For San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee)
John W. Rogers — Vice President 925/242-0918 or 415/420-6050
San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee firstname.lastname@example.org
800/829-1300 or 916/258-8000
SAN FRANCISCO BAY COFFEE COMPANY GROWS, DONATES 1.1 MILLION TREES TO FARMERS TO FIGHT DEVASTATING COFFEE “RUST” DISEASE
Small family-owned gourmet coffee roaster in 2016 will grow and donate another 2.5 million trees to farmers in 2016; company welcomes industry giant to the fight LINCOLN, CALIFORNIA (December 7, 2015) – The small San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee Company has mustered perhaps the biggest army to date in the high-stakes war against “Roya” rust disease that is wiping out coffee trees, farms and countless livelihoods across Central America.
The Lincoln, California-based, family-owned gourmet coffee roaster has grown, planted and donated 1.1 million trees to devastated farmers to help fight Roya fungus that attacks, defoliates and kills coffee trees. In addition to the 1.1 million trees already planted, San Francisco Bay Coffee announced that it will grow and donate an additional 2.5 million trees in 2016 for beleaguered farmers in Mexico, Panama and Guatemala.
San Francisco Bay Coffee emphasized that the best solution is to replant and restore affected coffee farms with rust-resistant trees instead of spraying them with expensive and potentially dangerous chemicals. The chemicals can contaminate soil and groundwater as well as harm people and wildlife.
“The planting of rust-resistant trees is expensive and time-consuming but in the long term it is the best way to eliminate Roya which has taken a terrible toll on coffee communities in Mexico and Central America,” said San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee Company President and Founder Jon B. Rogers.
The 1.1 million trees from San Francisco Bay Coffee – one of the smallest national gourmet roasters – is part of a comprehensive program it launched several years ago to rescue farmers and communities reeling from the rust fungus.
Despite its relatively small size, San Francisco Bay Coffee took a leadership role and got a head-start in the race to help farmers by launching a program – not tied to customer sales - several years ago. The goal of the company’s “Rust Trust” is to eventually plant 50 million trees to replace those lost to rust. A key part of the solution, according to the company, is to graft high-quality Arabica stock onto heartier root stock. For the past three years, said Rogers, the company has been developing the best Roya-resistant root stock.
Rogers welcomed industry giant Starbucks’ decision earlier this year to donate a tree for farmers for every bag of coffee it sells over the next year. San Francisco Bay does not require customers to buy any of its coffee to support its nonprofit Rust Trust program.
“We were happy to hear that Starbucks has joined the fight,” said Rogers. “Welcome aboard and thank you Starbucks. We need all the help we can get.”
“We look forward to working on this challenge with Starbucks and hope that our industry’s collective effort will restore hope to small farmers,” added Rogers. “We hope other companies with a stake in this fight and the means to help will establish comprehensive programs. Time is running out for small farmers, workers and their families.”
Rust (“Roya” in Spanish) represents one of Mexico’s and Central America’s largest economic challenges. Millions of people there rely on coffee for their livelihood.
Soon after the crisis hit in 2012, San Francisco Bay Coffee established a multi-tiered program. The program includes growing, planting and donating the trees, round-the-clock agricultural advice and site inspections to ensure the trees survive, fertilizer at a discount and even interest-free loans to Panama farmers who can’t obtain traditional bank loans.
Founded, owned and operated by the Rogers family, San Francisco Bay Coffee took direct action to fight coffee rust to restore hope for families whose lives depend on the coffee industry. In addition, the company wants to ensure sources of high-quality coffee are not eliminated forever. For the Rogers family, the program is also personal because it has established direct, familial relationships with many farmers for more than three decades.
Instead of tying its contribution to sales, San Francisco Bay Coffee took $1 million from operating expenses several years ago to launch, fund and establish the “Rust Trust” – a collaborative effort between the company and farmers.
Despite its relatively small size, the company has directly tackled significant socio-economic and environmental issues ¬¬¬¬- to help break the cycle of poverty and protect native plants, forests and wildlife- in coffee growing regions for three decades.
“We are committed to tackling this devastating disease and giving a hand to these hard-working farmers,” said San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee Company Vice President/Green Coffee Buyer Pete Rogers, who conceived and manages the Rust Trust. “Together we will find a way to help these coffee communities rise again.”
Roya causes powdery yellow spots to appear on leaves in farms in Mexico through South America. The leaves eventually turn brown and fall. Severe defoliation from rust weakens and eventually kills coffee plants, reducing yields for farmers who rely on their crop. Estimates vary on rust’s impact but published reports indicate that the disease has take an enormous economic and social toll including the loss of hundreds of millions of pounds of coffee. The virulent disease – which destroyed the once-booming coffee industry in Sri Lanka and Java in the 1800s - has wiped out countless small farms, hundreds of thousands of jobs and fractured economies in countries such as Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador.
After oil, coffee is the world’s largest commodity and the most important internationally-traded agricultural product.
Like all of San Francisco Bay Coffee’s programs to help coffee communities, the “Rust Trust” is not tied to a specific sales promotion.
San Francisco Bay Coffee established a workshop program with an agricultural team with “boots on the ground” to teach farmers techniques to resurrect their farms. The company plants, propagates and then transports coffee seedlings for replanting at rust-ravaged farms.
“Our workshop teaches farmers about fungicide, fertilization and methods for establishing new plantations,” said Rogers.
The Rust Trust’s primary goals are to rescue farmers who lost their plantations from rust in 2012 and increase the quality of life of small farmers through more productive farms. Many small farmers affected by Roya have an annual yield too small to obtain a traditional loan with reasonable credit terms.
The Rust Trust is part of San Francisco Bay Coffee’s groundbreaking Community Aid program, which sustains farmers and protects nature in such regions as Mexico, Latin America, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Rwanda (Africa).
Through Community Aid, customers help the Rogers family build houses, schools and medical clinics for thousands of farmers, workers and their families, workers or even protect rare wildlife such as jaguars and their forest homes.
Community Aid continuously raises the quality of life at farms through critical social and environmental projects. The Rogers family launched Community Aid — which differs from and goes beyond Fair Trade — in the 1980s after Pete Rogers witnessed “appalling” poverty that gripped some farms for generations. “Our goal is to improve the life of everyone who has contact with our coffee while protecting natural resources,” added Rogers.
About San Francisco Bay Gourmet Coffee – a Rogers Family Company: Headquartered in Lincoln, California, the company roasts, packages and supplies whole bean, ground and single serve coffee including organic lines as well as tea to retail, wholesale and individual customers. The company uses only 100 percent, highest quality Arabica beans grown in concert with nature. The Rogers family has been recognized for environmental and social stewardship, earning Store Brands magazine’s “Supplier Pacesetter” award in 2014. The magazine named the company one of America’s most environmentally responsible roasters.
Its other brands and divisions include The Organic Coffee Company, East India Tea, Fairwinds Coffee, Audubon Coffee, Pleasant Hill Farms, Black Mountain Gold and Café Jerusalem. For more information, please visit www.sanfranciscobaycoffee.com or www.rogersfamilyco.com
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