A smallholder in Veracruz
Lilia and her husband Sergio, in Crucero farm
Crucero farm is located in Crucero de Zapata, a small Mexican community in the municipality of Ixhuatlán del Café, surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental and overlooked by the majestic volcanic peak of Orizaba, the highest mountain in Mexico. As its name suggests, this is coffee country: the state of Veracruz in which the municipality is located is one of Mexico’s three main coffee regions.
While Crucero Farm has been in her family since the 1960s, Lilia Vidal Vargas only started running the farm as its owner in 2003. Across 9 hectares she cultivates three high quality Arabica varieties, Bourbon, Típica and Caturra, along with red banana trees for shade. Three full-time workers help with the upkeep of the farm year-round; 30 additional workers come to help harvest the ripe coffee cherries.
Discovering a new approach to farming
Through the AAA Program you learn new things, you see other ways of working, you get new ideas, you improve your relationship with the community and it gives the family strength.
Lilia first became aware of the Nespresso AAA Program in 2009, after noticing that other coffee producers received a green stamp on their coffee sales slips at the central mill. Asking about its meaning, she was directed to an agronomist working with the AAA Program, who invited her to an information session explaining the responsibilities and benefits of the program. “It really interested me to learn how the program combines economic profit with environmental and social benefits,” she explains. She joined the program the next year. Since then, Lilia and her husband Sergio Salazar have made numerous changes to the farm, with the support of their workers. This includes taking more care during harvesting to pick only the best and most mature coffee cherries, carefully regulating the use of fertiliser and thoroughly cleaning used containers so they can be recycled.
The hardest part, she says, was the organisation of the farm, since they were unaccustomed to keeping records. “Now I am running my farm much better: I keep track of my expenses, how much coffee I am selling and how much money I am earning,” says Lilia.
Improving human relationships through the AAA Program
One of the most rewarding aspects of being in the AAA Program for Lilia has been the human factor. “Through the training workshops we have gotten to know other coffee producers better. It’s an opportunity to compare our experiences with one another so that we can apply these to our own farm and improve. We also have a better relationship with the workers on our farm, who see that we are part of a program that is for everyone’s benefit,” she explains.
- Name: Lilia Vidal Vargas
- Age: 59
- Farm: Crucero
- Location: Ixhuatlán del Café, Veracruz, Mexico
- Size of farm: 9 hectares
- Joined the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program: 2010
Lilia’s enthusiasm for the program has motivated her to share her knowledge with other coffee producers in her community about implementing good agricultural practices she has learned through the program.
“This is a very good program. Following the recommendations of the agronomists can help us improve our income while caring for nature, but you must work hard and be organised,” she notes.
“Through the AAA Program you learn new things, you see other ways of working, you get new ideas, you improve your relationship with the community and it gives the family strength.”