Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Fabric of Humanity

Sometimes with the constant setbacks, broken vehicles, and missing machinery, it's hard for us to focus on the multitude of things that have actually gone right!

One of the most impressive things that is going right this year is the organic and fair labor cotton production. And it's going right in a big way. In July of 2010, 42 farmers planted 345 acres of organic and fair labor cotton. This is 4 times the number of farmers we had last year and 7 times the amount of cotton produced last year...what a jump! We extended farmers nearly $80,000 in credits for planting and harvest costs. Included in the group of cotton farmers this year are two women's cooperatives!
In December, farmers began to harvest their cotton, and are continuing that harvest now. We estimate that they will harvest a total of 600,000 lbs of seed cotton! The market for organic cotton is supreme this year, and for the first time ever, all that fiber has already been pre-sold!

That seed cotton is being ginned at the cotton gin which this year is being managed by the processing and marketing co-op, COPROEXNIC, rather than CDCA staff, the first step toward the gin's independence. Rather than requiring CDCA to finance the operation of the gin this year, the gin is operating on upfront payments for that cotton...this is a HUGE help to us!

The cotton gin (a 1964 Lummus that has been around the block a few times) has recently had all of its blades replaced, resulting in a per-day production capacity that is 6 times what it was previously! The gin is now consistently ginning and baling 6 bales for a total of nearly 2,550 pounds of processed fiber per day! The gin is operating two shifts for the first time ever and employing a total of 14 people. We expect the gin to run for about 6 months this year, twice as long as its run in past years! With this increase in cotton production, our gin is at capacity, and we're hoping to expand the gin to accommodate next year's expected production.

The Genesis Co-op, is stuck without spinning machinery, thanks to that whole debacle, but meanwhile we are not only giving them basic grains to help feed their families (thanks to generous donations!), but they are also working, getting paid to inspect the cotton for polypropylene contamination before it goes to the gin. Their big beautiful 15,000 square foot building is FULL of organic cotton right now!

Meanwhile, the market for organic and fair labor cotton clothing continues to grow...We are the first organic cotton chain in the world to be certified in fair labor practices from crop to closet, a distinction that we feel merits some positive attention. Maggie's Organics, the maker and distributor of our organic cotton clothing, has made a video about the cotton chain...a beautiful video that highlights the Maggie's Organics connection in Nicaragua and the CDCA's role in the chain. You can now watch this wonderful video, called The Fabric of Humanity by clicking here and scrolling down.

With so many things going right...who's to say we can't overcome those things that haven't gone right quite yet? -- Becca

Monday, January 10, 2011

Best Christmas Gift of All

In our December newsletter we wrote about our financial situation and asked people to consider giving a little more. We also sent a letter out to people who had given $500 or more over the last five years also asking if they could give more….wow! You all came through! In December donations totaled c lose to $100,000!!! Again…Wow!

It is hard for us to ask for money. We sort of missed the Oral Roberts’ gene of having the chutzpah to ask outright, but the work needed us to ask…so for the first time in 13 years and the third time in our 32-year history we sent a special letter.

And with the gifts came; lovely…heartwarming…notes of encouragement and surprisingly, validations of our asking for money.

One woman wrote about the newsletter “Good for you for telling us you need money…you need to do that when you get low.”

We received an email from a dear friend who had been unemployed for many months of this year and when working she tithes to this work…she said that she didn’t think she could give any more but then looked at what she had bought for others for Christmas and sat down and wrote the CDCA a check.

I talked to Mama on Christmas Day. She is the one who receives your gifts in South Carolina and deposits them for us. “How has your day been, Mama?”

“Good.” Then lots of family news exchanged and thanks for presents, etc…you know…Christmas Day stuff.

Mama then says, “Do you know what my favorite Christmas present has been? Opening all those envelopes and pulling out all those checks for y’all. It has been just wonderful…absolutely wonderful.”

We agree. Thank you one and all.

And yet again Wow!

Next week we’ll write about our budget needs for 2011…stay tuned! -- Kathleen