Nariño typically houses a great number of producers, each with a small plantation, under one hectare in size on average (see Interesting Statistics). They are family-run farms which are painstakingly looked after. The final product is highly valued by producers, which generates pride in the community and is carefully selected in each stage of its production. The producers’ dedication and the size of the farms help to explain the particularities of this coffee.
The coffee farmers’ culture in this area shares certain influences, derived from their pre-Hispanic ancestors and Andean culture, which is known by anthropologists as a complementary duality. This duality is reflected in the rural mentality of locating their farms at different altitudes and, thus, plant complementary crops which, in turn, also lead to smallholding plantations. That is, coffee production here is an almost artisanal process undertaken by the coffee grower and his or her family as well as other members of the community with whom he or she shares the workload. These cycles, distributed by task assignment, make for a tradition that has played a part in influencing the quality of the product and, thus, the recognition and reputation of Café de Nariño.
The most deeply rooted traditions of this land include a love for the earth and are a clear result of the influence of the pre-Hispanic inhabitants, whereby the geographic borders of the region have helped to ensure that people keep their cultural roots and their behavior and accents, very particular to this region. This regional independence, influenced by its geographic location as a border region, is reflected in generating a special sense of community whereby the workforce is community based and more efficient. The latter is reflected in the social model which operates under a system called borrowed hands, which directly influences cultural labor related to coffee and the harvesting processes. This exchange of work also serves to strengthen the social foundations of the region.
As you can see in the Coffee Journey - Virtual Trip to Origins®, the regions’ producers are friendly to visitors. Also, their community spirit allows them to undertake other collective projects that may not be directly related to coffee production. The coffee growers’ Municipal and Departmental Committees, supported by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, undertake Sustainability that Matters programs that benefit the whole community. In the next section we explore these projects and programs.