by cheri block
Meet Harvey and Helen, two marine iguanas (yes, marine iguanas). My professor, Carter A. Hunt, sent me this photograph yesterday from the Galapagos Islands, along with his gracious suggestions for my latest long paper. I have been reading about the Galapagos since early April and have just finished my sixth book on the topic.
I had no idea that the Galapagos now are home to over 30,000 people, that invasive species such as feral cats, donkeys, and goats threaten the habitat of the 13 species of giant tortoise, of penguins (yes, penguins at the equator) and of flightless cormorants (yes, flightless).
I had no idea that the Charles Darwin Research Center and other agencies participated in a program to eradicate 130,00 feral goats from Isabella and Santiago Islands in 2005 and were successful.
I had no idea that a number of devout Christians go to the Galapagos in tour groups and somehow come away still believing in Creationism.
One only has to think about the concept of a marine iguana to understand evolution and adaptability.
My paper is not about animals, birds, or amphibians but rather concerns the tension between development and conservation in the production of shade-grown coffee, a topic that fascinates me because I had never considered my morning cup of coffee for anything other than its taste. When I visited Peet’s or Starbuck’s Coffee, I never thought about terms like Fair Trade, organic, or shade-grown. Shame on me.
Carter A. Hunt and William Durham, my professors, tell me that even on the Galapagos Islands, a sustainable shade-grown organic coffee farm exists.
I contacted Robert A. Rice, a geographer and one of the leading proponents of Bird Friendly Coffee (R) who works at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center in Washington D.C. He has graciously provided me with pathways to understanding shade-grown coffee–what it is, where it is grown, who grows it, who buys it, and what it does and does not do for the environment.
These topics and more have prevented me from finishing my story about gratitude and where it went.
I do apologize.