Community Agroecology Network
The Community Agroecology Network (CAN) is a program started by Professor Steven Gliessman at UC Santa Cruz that brings direct trade coffee to their dining halls. CAN not only provides Santa Cruz students with ethically sourced coffee; it also provides interested students with opportunities to take part in participation action research (PAR). This unique curriculum combines research and educational opportunities with social change. Participation Action Research gives students and researchers the ability to make connections with the people who grow their coffee. During CAN field studies, undergrads, graduate students and professors go to producer co-ops in Latin America to learn about how they run their farms and conduct research on best-practice sustainable farming techniques.
CAN provides the farmers with a living wage as well as research that empowers them within their industry. PAR provides students with valuable research experience, an expanded world view, and an unforgettable experience. CAN offers exchange programs in Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and El Salvador.
The fair trade club believes that CAN fits perfectly into Cal Poly's "learn by doing" philosophy. Our mission is to make Cal Poly part of the Community Agroecology Network.
What is Agroecology?
Agroecology is a sustainable form of agriculture based on indigenous farming practices that Latin American farmers have used for centuries. CAN farmers integrate their crops into the natural topography of the land which respects the jungle around them and provides their coffee plants with a natural growing environment. This results in higher quality beans and thus a richer more flavorful coffee. All Agroeco coffee is shade grown, and the farmers diversify their crops, integrating the coffee with other essential foodstuffs.
Why does Agroecoogy make a difference?
Direct trade cuts out many of the middle men that take profits away from the producer. In the CAN model producers sell the beans directly to a coffee roaster in Santa Cruz and the roaster sells it directly to the UC campus and local coffee shops. Agroeco coffee fosters stewardship of the environment and care for the people who produce our coffee. The Communitiy Agroecology Network also gives students the ability to connect with the people that grow that essential elixir that keeps us going like the energizer bunny. How often can you say that you've met the person that grew your coffee?