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Sustainability in its most basic definition is the ability to maintain over long

periods of time, (ideally indefinitely). In current sustainability theory, it is

the balance between the three "p's" profit, planet and people. We like to

think of it as creating systems that integrate each of the p's. For coffee this

means analyzing our system as a whole to create and organize in a way that

is operationally profitable, socially accountable and environmentally


Sustainability on Damarli Estate

When applying the triple bottom line (people, planet and profit) to the

management of a coffee farm systemic thinking must be applied. From the

profit perspective a coffee farm’s main source of profit comes from the sale

of coffee, however many other supplemental sources of income can hedge

against a poor crop and provide additional benefits to the farm. Some

examples we engage in are intercropping, agroforestry and tourism. In

addition to providing alternate sources of income each example provides

different benefits including: nitrogen fixation, protection against soil

erosion, increased biodiversity, additional sources for food, and exchanges

of knowledge and ideas.

We operate a shade grown coffee farm. This differs from high yielding

farms, where the coffee is grown in full sun. Naturally coffee really likes

sunlight, however without high injection of fertilizer, the coffee tends to do

poorly, therefore full sun grown coffee farms rely heavily on chemical

fertilizers. These high yielding farms can be very profitable, but are based

on monoculture, which provide little other benefits for the local

environment. On the other hand shade-grown coffee provides many

different benefits. Some of the benefits we have found include: the

preservation of native species, more carbon absorption, more habitat for

local species, higher OM content, lower soil temperatures, less transpiration

and improvement in the cup profile of the coffee.

Here at Damarli Estate we consider it our duty to our workers and ourselves

to create an environment where we create win-win situations and use

sustainable systems. The social aspect of the triple bottom line takes into

account the cost of living, income, health and purpose. We take all of these

aspects very seriously. Our workers are paid  above minimum wage, they

are in the Panamanian social security system, which in addition to having a

retirement fund it also covers all medical costs if they get hurt or sick on the

job. Their housing is provided at no cost to the workers who live on the farm,

which were updated in January 2015. In addition they have electricity ,

which is provided by a small solar system that charges up a battery bank

during the day. And a portion of the harvest from cover crops and other

intercropping is given to workers. At the end of the season we make sure

that they get a taste of the final product they have worked all year to

produce. We are here to inspire, to create efficient systems and to create

win-win situations for our workers and others through our growth.