Posts Tagged ‘kitchen gardens international’

In honour of International Coffee Day, September 29th, I am reposting an entry from three years ago. Shade the coffee, shelter the birds!

Love Coffee? Save a Bird With Every Cup.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Photo: Seabrooke Leckie)

It’s the time of year when many of the birds we have enjoyed all summer, ‘our’ birds, make their long, perilous journey south, completing one of the most amazing feats of the natural world. Many of those birds will spend their winter on coffee plantations.

A native of Ethiopia, coffee was introduced to Brazil by the mid-1700s, and coffee plantations today cover an estimated 7 million acres in the northern Neotropics from Columbia and Brazil to Mexico. Traditionally, coffee has thrived in shaded woodlands, but in order to produce crops more quickly, sun-tolerant coffee plants were developed.

Full-sun farming requires the removal of the forest and replaces it with a virtual biological desert. Without the forest birds to eat insects, and decaying materials to feed the plants, sun-grown coffee requires the heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers. At least half of the coffee grown in the Neotropics has been converted to full sun.


Buying shade-grown coffee is probably the most important thing you can do to help save the rainforest and protect migratory birds. These days, shade-grown coffee is widely available in supermarkets and specialty stores. Sometimes you have to read the label carefully to verify that the coffee is shade-grown.


Too expensive? Don’t drink that much coffee? Here’s an easy alternative: Look for Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee. Nabob is a product of Kraft Foods, one of a few corporate giants that control 40 to 60% of the coffee market. According to the label, Nabob is currently more than 60% Rainforest Alliance Certified and working towards 100% certification.


Look for the Rainforest Alliance Frog

Still drinking instant??? Most instant coffee is made from the poorest, sun-grown beans. If you purchase an inexpensive one-cup or small-pot coffeemaker, brewing the real thing is very fast. You can enjoy a better cup of coffee and help the birds with a minimum effort. Wake up and smell the coffee! The birds will thank you.

For more information about shade-grown coffee, see my Shade the Coffee, Shelter the Birds post. For plenty of information on many aspects of coffee and habitat, visit the site linked here: Coffee and Conservation.


Ovenbird (Photo: Seabrooke Leckie)

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Well, it’s been two weeks since I planted my tomato seeds and most of them are coming along nicely. They have just started putting out their first amazing petite tomato leaves. So cool!

I plan to expand my vegetable garden a little bit this year. I’ve got snap pea seeds to try, and another few green delicacies. How about you? Are you planting a few vegetables this year? Or maybe a lot?

Roger Doiron is looking for revolutionaries to join his Subversive Plot. His Plot looks like this:


Roger Doiron is the founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, linked here. In his funny, entertaining TED talk, Roger outlines some of the challenges our world food supply faces in coming decades. In the next 50 years, more food will have to be produced to keep up with the growing population than was produced in the previous 10,000 years!

Local food can be part of the solution. Roger’s talking really local. Like your own backyard. Oh, you don’t have to have a lot of space to grow a few vegetables. There are lots of creative ways to garden.


Small gardens really can make a difference. At the peak of the Victory Garden movement, small gardens were providing 40% of all produce. Of course, not everyone has the time or interest or space for a garden and incredibly, there are places where growing vegetables in your front yard is illegal!

But things are changing. In Maine, the town of Sedgwick unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.” It’s a bucking of state and federal laws. The town government added: “It shall be unlawful for any law or regulation adopted by the state or federal government to interfere with the rights recognized by this Ordinance.”

Roger offers many interesting points worth pondering. Here’s Roger Doiron:

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