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Culture: Coffee with Scott Russell - An update from the farm

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Paddy & Scott's
Paddy & Scott's

It’s hard to believe that our Paddy and Scott’s Meru Farm Project is now in its second year; and we are proud that our groundbreaking community-driven venture is progressing successfully. We never tire of hearing how the farm is doing, how our investments and the Muchomba family’s hard work is paying off and more importantly, how the crops of Paddy and Scott’s coffee are progressing.

Last year, we installed a new irrigation system, diverting a stream of water from a nearby river to the farm for use in the washing station and then to be reused for watering the coffee trees,with excess being diverted back to the river further downstream.

This year, we are beginning to see the full benefits of this as well as harnessing all rainwater from across the farm. There’s actually been plenty of rainfall this season; it’s not as scarce here as in some other coffee growing regions, but it’s still important to make the best use of every drop.

Now the trees have blossomed, a beautiful sight, the coffee cherries have formed and are growing rapidly. Some cherries have already begun to ripen in the sunshine and we’ve started ‘fly-cropping’; picking small amounts of cherries at peak ripeness ahead of the main harvest.

In the next few weeks the main crop will be ready for the harvesting to begin in earnest. This year we are expecting an even greater quantity and quality of beans. Year on year our farm is growing with outstanding results; and soon this year’s harvest will be shipped, roasted here in the UK and available at your local Paddy and Scott’s café. How amazing is that!

The Paddy and Scott’s sponsored Ruiga Primary School, located 6kms south of the farm is looking great too! Last year, among other improvements, we built a model working coffee farm in the grounds of the school to teach the next generation of coffee farmers the best modern farming techniques. This year, Isaac informs me, the school farm is in excellent shape. The trees are still too young to produce any coffee, but the children are maintaining the trees and we are hoping for an excellent crop next harvest.

While the children are off on their school holidays, we have started improvement works fitting new window panes; it’s hard to believe before Paddy and Scott’s became involved there was no running water, toilets or even glass in the windows. This will hopefully be completed by the time they come back to school next week and we look forward to seeing some pictures of the children enjoying their new learning environment.

Every time I hear from Isaac, our farm manager, there seems to be more to celebrate with positive updates on the Meru Farm and School Project. I am reminded each time how worthwhile it is to be pouring our investment and efforts directly into the farm which is growing our coffee, rather than picking through an elongated buying chain. As a businessman you are constantly reminded to work smarter, not harder – for me this business decision may not be the easiest, but is definitely the smartest route to great, ethical coffee.

Scott Russell, CEO Paddy and Scott’s, paddyandscotts.co.uk