I’m part of the excellent participatory action research project “Diversification strategies in smallholder coffee systems of Mesoamerica” where we find out what Mexican and Nicaraguan coffee farmers live off – aside from coffee. 2018 was a bad year for coffee farmers: the price of a pound of coffee fell below one dollar in August. Considering climate change, volatile prices, competition and rigging of the coffee market by Wall Street, coffee farmers do need other income sources too – and this project is about finding out which ones make the most sense for them. Between four universities, two coffee cooperatives, and my NGO the Community Agroecology Network, we’re asking coffee farmers about their vegetables, apiaries, fruit trees and milpas; what they sell, buy and exchange; during which months they’re short on money and what greens they eat then… It’s fascinating and I’ve certainly developed lots of respect for my coffee grower colleagues who marshal small armies of coffee pickers during the harvest, getting organic, top-quality coffee to the roastery and their clients overseas.
As a welcome bonus my team asked me to design a logo, that could also be printed on the project t-shirts. They gave me a draft:
I made a new version:
I presented the sketch to my colleagues and took comments:
The next version, a vector drawing done in Inkscape, was like this… among other things, I’d forgotten to add an arm representing the milpa:
And after changing the colour of the chicken and, by popular demand hand-lettering the text, we have this:
This was embroidered on 100 polo-neck t-shirts!