In a post I wrote last week, I mentioned that I'd try to tell the story of how we now have a coffee farm. At the beginning of January, we all sat down as an organization and came up with two big coffee related goals for 2015. One of the goals was to register our business so that we can export coffee grown by farmers that we're working with. The other big goal was to try to find a strategic piece of land where we could set up a training farm. The training farm would serve as a place where we can grow coffee, try out new techniques (new fertilization, different coffee varieties, processing) and also bring the farmers in for trainings. The hope is also that in a few years we can use this farm as a place to not only equip farmers but also equip believers.
Luv-Luv began searching around in the mountains for some villages that might be good options. Because we wanted to be strategic with our coffee farm (and because we have a pretty limited budget) we knew that it would take a lot of leg work and God answering some big prayers. Luv and I spent over three months looking at different villages. We talked to farmers, government officials, friends and friends of friends but nothings seemed to fit.
I've mentioned before about how we sponsor a local friend to go out and mentor pastors in a few villages in the mountains. After three months of searching and finding nothing that would fit what we need, we finally asked our local friend if he knew of anything. A few days later he came back and said that one of the ladies in the local house church (which Underground Coffee helps support) wants to sell her land. Her asking price for the land was reasonable, as opposed to many of the crazy prices others on the mountain had been asking for their land. We did not think it would be possible to find land in the village with the house church because it is just off the main road. Land here, like everywhere else, gets much more expensive when it is close to a major road.
When we went to talk with the lady about her land, we explained some of the purpose of what we are trying to do with coffee in her village. She loved the idea and wanted to help us. Also, because foreigners cannot own land here, we told her that we wanted to have a 30+ year lease on the land. The lease would require a little more paperwork and waiting than it would to just sell the land, but at the end of those thirty years her family would receive the land back as a working coffee farm. Because she is a Christian, we were able to liken it to the Year of Jubilee.
However, the land wasn't perfect. Our ideal farm would be between twelve to twenty acres in size. The land that she was selling was just over nine acres. And while the soil on the land is very good, getting it ready to plant will take A LOT of work. The lady in the village also didn't have any land title documents, which meant we needed to have the land surveyed. We felt God moving in the situation and proceeded to advance her the money to get the land surveyed.
We waited a few weeks for the survey results to come back and prayed that maybe the land would be a little bigger than the lady thought (and hopefully not smaller). When the survey came back the lady was surprised to find out that there was not nine acres of land. Instead there was almost fifteen acres! We agreed that we would lease 12.5 acres of the land this year and then next year when we have more budget money we would look into renting the last two acres of land. The lady came back and asked if it would be alright to, instead, give the remaining two acres of land to the local church. She said that God blessed her by giving her more land than she thought she had and she wanted to give something back to Him. The church will use the land to grow coffee and vegetables and use the money generated to fund ministry. So now we have a farm that is in ideal size, in an ideal location that borders land that the local church will be working.
Every time I think about how this story came together, I can't help but see the fingerprints of God all over it. And there are several other "more than coincidence" things about this story that I just don't have the space to tell about. It is going to be a long journey to get this land ready for planting next year, however we are excited that God has blessed us with the opportunity. Thanks again for everyone's continued prayer and financial support, which has made all of this possible.