Kyle and Katina Connaughton x Peru
Kyle and Katina Connaughton — the chef and farmer, respectively — behind SingleThread Farms in California, met with coffee and cocoa farmers in Peru who are improving their skills, market connections and incomes in partnership with the NGO TechnoServe.
Owners of a 3-Michelin-star restaurant, the Connaughtons source almost all of their restaurant’s ingredients locally — or grow it themselves. Except for cocoa and coffee. Together, they traced the supply chains of these valuable crops back to the small farmers and producers who often struggle to escape poverty.
Since joining a TechnoServe program last year, Eli Bustamente learned the best ways to plant, rejuvenate, maintain and harvest his coffee, and now earns significantly higher prices.
“This was the first time in my life that I have learned the right techniques to produce coffee.”
Eli Bustamente, Coffee farmer, Peru
Kyle and Katina took a turn on Eli’s bicycle-powered coffee pulper, and toured his farm, which is now a model of organic coffee production.
“Coffee is our morning ritual or afternoon pick-me-up, but to these farmers, it's their livelihood, a pathway to live without fear.”
Then the Connaughtons visited small cocoa farmers and producers in an area once dominated by the drug trade. The leader of Mishky Cacao, a women’s cooperative formed to provide the community with safer means of income, speaks of those times with tears in her eyes.
“We were scared, we had to stay inside...we were terrified of losing our children to the narcotraffickers.”
After working with TechnoServe, Mishky Cacao became a profitable, award-winning chocolate producer that is now steering the local community out of poverty.
“These brave women and men are making great strides in creating safer and sustainable lives for themselves and their communities,” said the Connaughtons.
The Connaughtons also visited Marcelino Zumba, one of 21,000 small cocoa farmers (40% of the total in Peru) that TechnoServe worked with to help improve their productivity and incomes.
“We were poor before, but now we are on our way.”
“As a farmer and chef, to be able to connect on a deeper level with our coffee and chocolate food systems was an undeniably powerful experience.”
Kyle and Katina
The culinary couple are now working through Chefs for Change to help these communities in Peru to progress even further.
“Meeting the hard-working individuals who tend to these crops has forever humbled our perspective,” reflected Kyle and Katina. “With every sip of coffee and every bite of chocolate, we are endlessly reminded of where it all begins, and of the courageous individuals who shared their memorable stories of determination and perseverance with us.”