A family home in main street, Leon.
Located in the southwestern portion of the Republic of Haiti, in the Department of the Grand Anse and the Arroundissement of Jereme, lies the quiet market town of Leon. Their U.S. partner is St Francis, Derwood, Maryland.
Leon (also known as Marche Leon) is situated along the Riviere Voldrogue, in the rugged foothills of the Massiff de la Hotte mountains. Unlike many other parts of Haiti, Leon is still lush with trees and other vegitation. Further, sitting at an elevation of about 115 meters and surrounded on all sides by steep hills, Leon provides a fine setting to grow the high-quality, shade-grown coffee produced by Just Haiti. The St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Leon has a longstanding partnership with St. Francis Catholic Church in Derwood, MD. In 2013, Leon entered into a relationship with Just Haiti.
Pursuant to this partnership, through its local partners, especially Caritas of the Diocese of Jeremie, Just Haiti provides technical assistance and helps organize approximately 26 coffee growers into an association. Historically, these growers live at bare subsistence-level poverty, earning very little for their produce. However, by working with Just Haiti, the growers receive the fair market value of their coffee up-front, followed by additional income from the profits gleaned from the sale of coffee in the United States. This increase in income benefits the growers, their families, and the entire Leon community.
Throughout the spring and summer of 2013, the growers in Leon received extensive specialized training from a professional agronomist. After much work, including learning how to use a depulping machine, drying and weighing the beans, packing and shipping coffee for export, and the like, the growers in Leon produced several hundred pounds of coffee for sale to Just Haiti during the 2013 fall harvest. The relationship between Leon and Just Haiti is just beginning, and we hope that the coffee harvests in Leon, as well as the relationship with Just Haiti, will continue to flourish.