Everardo Bernstorff is committed to operating Santa Elena as a profitable and socially responsible organic shade coffee farm that conserves and protects biodiversity. The 660-acre (267-hectare) property in Chiapas, Mexico offers living proof that it is possible and profitable to run a business that conserves nature and provides jobs and decent working conditions for local people.
German immigrants, the Keller family established their coffee farm in 1899. Just short of a century later, in 1997, it was the second coffee estate to become Rainforest Alliance Certified for complying with the comprehensive environmental and social standards established by the Sustainable Agriculture Network -- a coalition of conservation groups coordinated by the Rainforest Alliance. Today, Finca Santa Isabel is a model of sustainability.
More than twenty years ago Dieter Nottebohm and his wife Holly bought a verdant coffee farm nestled between two of Guatemala's tallest volcanoes. When word of the Rainforest Alliance's work with coffee farmers spread to the Nottebohms they were intrigued. Still, they knew that it would require a substantial commitment on their part -- one that they knew would be difficult to afford with coffee prices at such dismally low levels.
Since 1992, Chiquita Brands International, the company that invented the banana industry, has been gradually reinventing it, one farm at a time. That transformation has been guided by the Rainforest Alliance and its partners in the Sustainable Agriculture Network, a coalition of environmental groups in eight tropical nations.