Food Security Project is a New Model for Self-Sufficiency for Orphans in Conflict-Torn Regions
Chido Govero, a young Zimbabwean woman, trains orphan girls to grow highly nutritious food using plant matter from coffee farms – creating a solution for food insecurity, climate change, and orphan self-sufficiency. Equator Coffees releases Chido’s Blend, with 100% of the profits supporting Chido’s work. www.EquatorCoffees.com/Chido.
This week, Equator introduced Chido’s Blend™, a blend of three African coffee beans, with 100% of profits supporting Govero’s remarkable work. Govero, who is featured on the label, will use proceeds to build housing, as well as to support training programs in many coffee-growing countries.
“Chido is an inspiration to all women entrepreneurs who work for social change,” said Helen Russell, Co-founder and CEO of San Rafael-based Equator Coffees (www.EquatorCoffees.com), a woman-owned company known both for social responsibility and artisan coffees. Russell met recently with Govero, who traveled to the U.S. to visit with leaders in the specialty coffee industry. “Chido’s Blend will raise funds critical to the success of her efforts, and inspire coffee lovers to look deeper into the power of their morning cup. This takes cause coffee to an entirely new level.”
Zimbabwe, a landlocked southern African nation roughly the size of Montana, has been besieged in recent years by a controversial land redistribution campaign that has crippled the economy and domestic food production. Additionally, an estimated 25% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS, and Zimbabwe has more orphans per capita than any other nation in the world. Food is scarce, shelter is limited and girls face significant risks in this climate of scarcity.
Govero, who lost her mother to AIDS, was rescued from an orphanage by a local scientist working with the ZERI Foundation. Intelligent and determined, at 12 she began work in a university research laboratory, analyzing tissue cultures on local wild mushrooms and their viability as a domesticated, nutritious food.
Govero and her colleagues in the university discovered that for communities lacking a consistent supply of food, mushrooms – which are a mere culinary flourish in the American diet – offer superior nutrition, and have the potential to dramatically contribute to food security. Govero became fascinated with the humble, accessible and nutritious mushroom, and became an expert at making them thrive with the simple materials available even to homeless orphan girls. She is now cultivating native mushrooms in mulch composed of discarded organic materials, such as fallen leaves and the husks from coffee beans. She teaches girls to find the mushrooms in their local environments and cultivate them for food and income.
While the mushrooms provide a stable food supply, the mushroom spores transform the mulch into a fiber-rich feed which can be fed to goats and other livestock. The animal manure is subsequently composted for raising additional food crops.
Furthermore, the mulch prevents emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, by utilizing the agricultural waste from coffee production. This closed-loop ecosystem would be the envy of any advanced sustainable farming method in developed countries.
To facilitate Govero’s pilot projects, Helen Russell of Equator spearheaded the creation of a network of international sustainable coffee importers – including Sustainable Harvest and InterAmerican – and their coffee farmers in Tanzania, who are providing Govero’s training corps access to their farms so that they can learn and perfect their skills.
“The future of Africa is much brighter than we could have ever imagined before,” said Gunter Pauli of the ZERI Foundation (www.zeri.org), which has led the effort to support Govero in coffee-growing nations. “With the power of a mere mushroom, Chido is demonstrating a model of self-sufficiency and ecological efficiency for millions of impoverished people around the world.”
At the 2009 Specialty Coffee Association of America conference, Chido and the ZERI Foundation were awarded the “Sustainability Award” for creating the most innovative project to expand and promote sustainability within the coffee industry.
Chido’s Blend™– a blend of African Arabica coffees with floral and fruity notes, supple spice and wood flavors – retails for $13.95, and is available online at www.EquatorCoffees.com/Chido and select retailers.
Govero recently published her inspiring autobiography, “The Future of Hope – Message from an African Orphan to a World in Crisis” which is available via the Equator website.
All profits from Chido's Beldn and book directly support her groundbreaking work.
About Equator Coffees
About the ZERI Foundation:
Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives (www.zeri.org) is a global network of creative minds seeking solutions to world challenges. The common vision shared by the members of the ZERI family is to view waste as resource and seek solutions using nature's design principles as inspiration.
Editors & Journalists:
For high resolution photos, YouTube video, additional background materials and to schedule interviews, please contact Michael Straus, Michael@StrausCom.com, (415) 777-1170 x302.