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Practicing Hope ; Janet (Steiner) Moore ’82

Janet Moore
Janet Moore ‘82 and her fellow
delegates stayed with Nicaraguan families
in the village of Filas Verdes

Grande mocha frappacinos. Tall, skinny, vanilla lattes. We love our caffeine-boosting coffees, but how often do we stop to consider where this beloved drink comes from?

After spending nine days in Nicaragua in February as part of a delegation sent to experience sustainable agriculture, coffee harvesting and life in an impoverished country, Janet (Steiner) Moore ’82 has a newfound appreciation for coffee, indoor plumbing and living without want.

Moore learned about the program when her church began buying fair trade coffee through the Presbyterian Church USA’s, (PC (USA)), Interfaith coffee
program.

According to the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua (CEPAD), more than 70 percent of Nicaragua’s population lives in poverty. Sustainable agriculture is one of the fundamental ways of building up Nicaragua’s povertystricken population. Moore says, “Sustainable agriculture is a process whereby no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used, thus not exposing workers or contaminating the local water supply. There is very little waste. In the case of the coffee bean, the fruit encasing the beans is composted back into the soil. The natural habitat for birds and other native plants and animals is preserved, with less soil erosion.”

Moore and her fellow delegates stayed with Nicaraguan families in the village of Filas Verdes for two days and one night. “Years of camping trips looked plush compared with the conditions our ‘family’ faced every day,” Moore says.“ For every place seemingly doing well, there are three places that are not.” Through programs like PC (USA), one of the oldest and largest for-profit fair trade companies in the United States, farmers and other small businesspeople are not condemned to a lifetime of poverty. Organizations such as CEPAD and PC (USA) make sure that farmers make enough money to support their families and improve their living standards. In turn, these farmers help support local initiatives. Moore says, “The [women’s sewing cooperation] paid for 600 paving stones to be installed at the entrance to a new hospital being built in Boaco, started a women’s leadership program, and installed new ‘cocinas,’ or‘biodigesters,’ in 16 members’ homes.” A biodigester is a low-cost system that converts organic matter into gas for cooking and heating.

While on the trip, Moore spent a good deal of time hand-picking coffee beans. “Picking coffee is difficult,” she says. The beans themselves are extremely
difficult to pick and coffee trees reach about 10-15 feet tall, so reaching beans was quite a challenge. They had to make sure they left the stems on the plant, so that the fruit will rebloom next season. “We were all hot, tired, muddy and willing to pay any price for a cup of coffee back home.”

Moore gained not only knowledge of fair trade, but knowledge about her capabilities physically, emotionally and spiritually. “The people we met are incredible—they have endured so much in terms of natural and man-made disasters and haven’t succumbed to the ‘victim’ mentality that pervades U.S. society. They, like us, just want to make a decent life for themselves and their families.”

Moore is a senior reference librarian in a Philadelphia-based law firm.

– Kristen M. Adams ’07


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