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If This Mango Could Talk

Amy Kumler
A story of community, soil, health and hope

When Sol Simple founder Will Burke first traveled to Nicaragua, he witnessed a country still healing from the wounds of the revolution in the ‘70s. After years of corporate conventional farming, the land needed healing, too. Will, a trained educator, believed that agriculture could alleviate the poverty he saw there, and started Sol Simple in 2007 with one goal: to help local growers and processors organize into a democratic farming cooperative that would sustain them as well as their land.

The company finds growers to work within Sol Simple’s organic program, helps them group into associations, and hosts workshops on the technical aspects of the organic farming trade. Once the growers are certified organic, Sol Simple arranges on-farm pickup of their mangoes, processes them using renewable solar energy—they have one of the largest hybrid solar-powered dehydrators in the region—and then ships the final product to market.

 

What does sustainable farming really mean? It means creating a model for future farming generations. It means promoting gender equity, supporting the community and regenerating the soil. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries in Latin America, and Sol Simple works in marginalized communities, hiring single mothers and partnering with female farmers (almost a third of the farmers in their network are women.) They coordinate with local governments and schools so their employees and partners can learn new skills, and so their children can be educated—one of the best paths forward and out of poverty.

In Sol Simple’s workshops for growers, soil is the main focus: rebuilding organic matter, restoring biodiversity, drawing down carbon, improving water filtration cycles, and increasing yield. In just 12 years, the collective has become a leader in Regenerative Organic (RO) farming practices and is now working toward Regenerative Organic Certification. It’s a model for responsible business that we hope inspires others.