The first edition of my photography book, Mexico + Guatemala with Food 4 Farmers, features photographs from my travels with Food 4 Farmers, a non-profit that works with coffee farmers in Latin American to address the problem of “los meses flacos,” or “the thin months.” Every year, coffee farmers combat starvation in the off season due to lack of income and opportunity. Food 4 Farmers addresses this complex issue by teaching farmers a new trade that will enable them to have an alternative source of income throughout the year.
This book chronicles my travels to Mexico + Guatemala in 2016 and includes an interview between myself and Marcela Pino, my travel companion and co-founder of Food 4 Farmers, discussing the programs, stories, and successes.
A short except from our conversation,
JULIA LUCKETT: It was hard to see so many farmers whose coffee crop had been devastated by the coffee rust, it seems like this program came at the right time for a lot of folks.
MARCELA PINO: Here in Guatemala, the producers are saying it’s saved their lives in the last couple of years. The farmers who are just starting out with beekeeping are starting with such energy and intention because of the success they have seen.
JL: There are a few stories I’ll never forget.
MP: I am very impressed by the amount of positive success stories that we have collected. Part of our work in evaluating how these programs have impacted people’s lives, which we do by interviewing farmers and their families one-on-one. It’s encouraging to talk to the farmers who have been participating for a couple years are starting to feel the benefits.
In the Chiapas, I talked with a woman named Seleni – she’s the wife of one Candido, one of the beekeepers – and she said that she’s really happy that her husband has found beekeeping. It has provided an alternative source of income and they also consume the bee products. Beekeeping has given him something to focus on and given them hope and improved their homelife. It was very moving.
Here in Guatemala, there are a number of moving stories. One that I think is amazing is Juan Colas Chel Gomez. He is a young farmer with a family, and a few years ago went to the United States, made some money, came back to Guatemala, bought some land, and invested it all of the money he earned in the US into coffee production. But then coffee rust hit his plants, and he lost everything.
The crisis hit the family really hard, in his own words, he told me he was desperate and didn’t know what to do. His wife confided in me that the children were malnourished, something they are still feeling the affects of now. Then he heard that there was a beekeeping training at the co-op here, at Maya Ixil. He said that as soon as he went into the training and saw the honey, he knew that this is what he was going to do. He came for trainings for the whole year and stuck with it. Now has he has 13 hives. He received 2 hives from the project, was able to buy a few and trapped some locally. He’s feeding his children pollen and propolis and they are coming out of their malnourished state. He is also selling the pollen and propolis which has been another little bit of income. The expression on his face and his confidence that he’s doing something that is going to help the family was incredible.”
Rick Peyser, co-founder of Food 4 Farmers commented,
“What a gorgeous book! It brought tears to my eyes reading it and looking at the amazing photos of coffee farming families in Mesoamerica. The photos brought back many memories and gave me time and space for reflection.”
You can buy the book at the link below. With sales tax and shipping, the total comes to $45.10 and 10% of all sales go to Food 4 Farmers. Once you’ve added the item to your cart, you’ll see it displayed on the upper right corner of your screen, or if you are on mobile, you’ll see it on the dropdown menu.
The creation of this work was sponsored by,
Jerry Greenfield & Elizabeth Skarie, Jim Howe, Dan Cox, Don & Lisa & Taylor Barberio, Michael Gunson, Kevin Casey & Molly O’Reilly, Jon & Nancy Wettstein, Nigel & Claudia Mucklow, Tim Stotz, David & Laura Stiller, Judy Maclsaac Robertson, Joyce Stowell, Brenda Vinson, John Broscious, Lori E Rowe, Mike Pelchar, Alan Newman, Patty & Paul Winberg, Emma Dodge Hanson, Nick Pierce, Sara Kassel, Thato Ratsbe, Hina Rizvi & Sebastien Vignola, Karen Flewelling, Caitlin Hoey & Dan Flynn, Peter Kassel & Carol Irish, Marcela Pino, Jocelyn & Colin Burgess, Lee Blanchard, Josh & Leslie Pierce, Spencer Turer, Mary Hamilton, Russell Kramer, Linda Kramer, Willie Crosby & Sarah Berquist, Eleanor Cox, Jennifer Britton, Rob Zilinyi, Georgia Landman, Sarah Roscher, Adriana Comtois & Anonymous Donors
Book photographs by Amira Silverman.