Farm: Fazenda Ponto Alegre
Varietal: Red Catuaí
Processing: Pulped Natural
Altitude: 950 to 1,080 metres above sea level
Owner: Renato, Edward and Mabel Lima de Souza
Town / City: Cabo Verde
Region: Sul de Minas, Minas Gerais
Fazenda Ponto Alegre - Brazil
Fazenda Ponto Alegre is situated in Cabo Verde, a traditional coffee-growing district of Minas Gerais, Brazil's leading coffee-producing state. The location offers ideal conditions for the production of fine coffee: high altitudes, fertile soil and a well-defined climate. However, it is the Lima de Sousa family’s approach to coffee production that makes Fazenda Ponto Alegre truly unique.
The Lima de Sousa family has been producing fine coffee at the Fazenda Ponto Alegre for over one hundred years. Over the course of more than a century, the family has learned to adapt and to overcome even the most severe downturns in the coffee market, such as the Great Depression of the 1930's. In 1984, the fourth generation of the family took the reins, with siblings Renato, Edward and Mabel Lima de Sousa establishing improved management practices and controls over every aspect of quality, maintaining the family tradition of excellence in coffee production while moving towards the goal of improved methods and more sustainable practices. The advanced agricultural techniques and investments in infrastructure that this 4th generation have brought about enable the estate to attain yields approaching 40 bags per hectare.
The farm covers 416 hectares of prime agricultural land, 65% of which is planted out in Mundo Novo, Catuaí, Catucai and Obatâ varieties. The remaining land includes a nature preservation area, a large plantation of eucalyptus trees, infrastructure for coffee processing (drying patios, warehouses, silos etc), pastures and the residences of owners and workers. Lots, such as this 100% Catuaí pulped natural, are often selected out according to varietal and picking days.
Fazenda Ponto Algere has been celebrated within the region for the sustainable farm practices they have put in place. They were recognised in 2012 by the SEBRAE foundation as a leader within Cabo Verde for sustainable agriculture. They have established a regional organic waste recycling program, where organic waste from their farm and neighbouring farms is composted using a modern and efficient composting system. The resulting fertiliser (600 tonnes of material is processed a year) is not only used to supplement the use of mineral fertilisers on the farms, reducing use of chemicals by 40%, it is also donated to public school gardens. Renato de Sousa has expressed that in the near future, he plans to establish partnerships with the municipal governments of neighbouring cities in order to begin receiving and processing waste for them, as well.
In addition to their efforts to recycle organic waste, Fazenda Ponto Alegre has contributed greatly towards other environmental projects. They have collaborated with the State Forestry Institute (IEF), donating native seedlings for their their reforestation efforts and have also established a wastewater recycling system, with recycled water being used to irrigate pasture land.
The de Sousa family has also demonstrated strong social commitments to their community. The fazenda provides employment for 70 people year-round and hires an additional 130 during the harvest season. Of the 70 full-time employees, 40 are provided housing and live on the farm. All regularly receive training in agricultural practices and health and safety, and families are provided with day-care for their children. The farm also supports the Women's Association of the Community, whose members take courses in health and supplementary income generating activities. Celino da Silva, one of the employees who was born and raised on the farm has stated, "It's wonderful to work and live here. The bosses treat you well, take care of nature, give courses, help us to improve our lives.” “I feel important," he adds.
These sustainability measures, says Renato de Sousa, are not about winning prizes or recognition. Rather, for him and his siblings, running the family business in a sustainable manner is its own motivation. "We believe that the environmental and the social reflect on the economic. If I do not take care of the spring, I will not have water to water my coffee. If I do not motivate people, they will not collaborate with me in my business, "he explains. Profit must always go hand in hand with social and environmental issues. He says,"I am aware that everything we do is nothing more than our duty. The world would be much better if all companies had this awareness.”