Update - June 3rd:
We did it! From all of us in Madagascar and US, thank you. Below is our new Stretch Goal, time is running out!
Each and every dollar pledged from now until this campaign ends will be used to help fund farmer-to-farmer trainings. That means bringing farmers together from disparate locations in rural Madagascar to learn from each other, share experiences and strengthen community partnerships. Thanks, Merci, and Misoatra!
As an additional reward for our Stretch Goal, we will create a special Vanilla Tips video showcasing unique ways to use our LAFAZA products!
We are a small business in a massive global spice industry. Our goal of changing food systems is bold and challenging, yet LAFAZA is already helping to redefine how global trade affects real people at the village level in Madagascar.
By working directly with thousands of farmers from the ground up, we are shifting their role in this industry. We put small farmers and the environment first, giving consumers around the world direct access to Madagascar’s finest ethically produced vanilla and other 100% natural foods. LAFAZA was founded by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who decided to change the existing model of trade by connecting farmers directly to consumers who seek a sustainable source for the world's finest spices.
Nearly 85% of Madagascar’s plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth, and the concentration of biodiversity is especially great along the island’s eastern coast, where vanilla and other tropical spices are grown. We promote and reward the practice of conservation agriculture, and LAFAZA farmers consistently demonstrate the benefits of agroforestry techniques to their neighbors and friends. This model allows the buffer zones around native rainforests to be supported with cash crops such as cloves, coffee, and vanilla without the use of any chemical inputs or pesticides, which helps protect the watershed while keeping soils healthy and clean.
With your support, LAFAZA will help preserve thousands of acres of native Madagascar rainforest and lemur habitat along the island’s eastern coast. We do this by connecting thousands of rural Malagasy farmers with international markets, and by paying premium prices that incentivize sustainable agricultural practices. By harnessing the potential economic value of the agroforestry buffer zones that protect rainforests and national parks, the farmers are able to reduce, and in some cases reverse, the deforestation and erosion that have been devastating the island.
The farmer families, many of whom we’ve partnered with since 2005, have worked the land and managed the local forests with careful stewardship for generations. But in recent years, caring for the surrounding forest and marine habitat has become increasingly difficult due to the scourge of illegal logging and a lack of economic empowerment for the one-acre farmer and his or her family. The LAFAZA model helps solve the economic challenges faced by individuals at the village level and makes it financially beneficial to preserve the forests and their unique flora and fauna.
Additionally, in partnership with Peace Corps Volunteers and Rotary Clubs in New York, LAFAZA and the farmers have built libraries in some of the most remote villages on the island, bringing solar panels and hundreds of books for people to use and enjoy. Our model is based on investing in - as well as giving back to - these communities, and we believe our success thus far confirms the validity of this uncommon approach to trade in Madagascar.
LAFAZA farmers produce some of the best vanilla in the world. It carries a deep, aromatic quality that is truly distinct from vanilla produced on the mono-crop plantations that are prevalent in Madagascar. LAFAZA vanilla is noticeably sweet and delightfully creamy, rich in caramel, raisin, and even cherry flavor notes. The growing conditions and climate - the terroir -play a large role in the development of a flavor profile. Agroforestry settings are ideal for the cultivation of natural vanilla, which contains at least 250 unique flavor compounds. That’s a lot of complexity for one little bean!
Why We Need Your Support
Your contributions will help 1000 new farmers get organic, fair trade, and non-GMO certifications. While LAFAZA prides itself on offering products that have met or exceeded organic and fair trade standards for years, we recognize the market demand for formal certifications and are committed to helping farmers achieve this goal. We will also use your contributions to help reach thousands more clove, cinnamon, and specialty crop producers so we can introduce some wonderful new flavors to our product line.
Cloves and vanilla grow well together. It's an example of agroforestry at its best! For each person who contributes to this campaign, LAFAZA will finance and supervise the planting of a clove tree on the land of a small farmer. Cloves are an important cash crop, and one tree can yield reliable income for a family over many decades. LAFAZA already buys cloves directly from farmers, but we plan to significantly expand this project in the fall of 2015. By supporting this effort, you will help ensure that more rainforests are preserved, more trees are planted, and the lives of more families in rural Madagascar are changed for many years to come.
Thank you so much for your support, and please help us spread the word!
We'll be updating this page and our blog at www.LAFAZA.com both during and after the campaign, so please keep in touch and look for LAFAZA on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
A special thanks to some of the people who helped make this video campaign possible:
Brad Kintzer - TCHO Chocolate
Caryl Levine - Lotus Foods
Ken Lee - Lotus Foods
Jen Musty - Batter Bakery
Patricia Rain - The Vanilla Queen
And to Ariel Sultan and Debbie Sultan from Food Guru!
Risks and challenges
Achieving these certifications is a challenge for any farmer. There is a mountain of detailed paperwork and the USDA guidelines for organic, for example, must be followed to the letter, whether you are a farmer in California or Madagascar. We are certifying over 1000 new smallholder farmers, some of whom are illiterate and live in very remote villages.
This will require many staff hours and presents varied logistical challenges, but our team in Madagascar is well prepared to overcome them. We have been working directly with producers for many years, have the trust and dedication of lead farmers and mobilizers on the ground, and have the skills to ensure each farmer can achieve organic, fair trade, and non-GMO certification. The LAFAZA team will work hand in hand with farmers as they document their production and labor practices to ensure transparency and accuracy throughout the certification process.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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