The Ferreira Family from Sapucaí Valley in Mantiqueira de Minas is the piloting force in Brazil. They aim to transform their conventional farming practices fully into agroforestry. The Ferreira Family is one prime example of coffee farmers with great ambition and innovation.
The Ferreira family, five generations of coffee producer
Coffee cultivation at Sapucaí Valley started in the 1980s when Mauro Mendes Ferreira purchased the property to begin his dream of growing coffee. The land held significant sentimental value to Mauro as he used to cross the farm on horseback every day to travel to school as a kid. He embodied an authentic gentleman of Mantiqueira de Minas, often spending hours upon hours contemplating the mountains and landscape of the region on the farm.
The coffee-growing tradition in the Capistrano Ferreira family started even before the beginning of this farm. For more than 100 years, across five generations, the family has developed the knowledge and heritage of not only coffee production but also particularities from the Mantiqueira micro-region.
As the 5th generation in the family, Eduardo Ferreira de Sousa is currently the lead producer of Sapucaí Valley and the main contact point of The Coffee Quest with their family farm. In recent years, Eduardo has combined this legacy with modern technologies and innovative practices to pursue ecological preservation. Eduardo wrote his Master’s Thesis on the subject of Agroforestry and is now putting this theory into practice.
Our partnership with the Ferreira family dated back to a few years ago during their first planned agroforestry pilot. In the 2021 harvest season, through The Coffee Quest Brasil, we had our chance to collaborate closely and gained a better overview of the work behind Sapucaí Valley.
Eduardo is the real pioneer of regenerative agriculture in Brazil. He is well-known for his own scalable regenerative agriculture pilot called Tropicália – a form of land management using intercropping to create a multi-layered ecosystem.
The objective of the Ferreira family is clear: Making agroforestry mainstream. The journey started with only 4 hectares of agroforestry in 2019, but the grand plan is to grow this to almost 100 hectares within the next 6 years.
The Coffee Quest is happy to strengthen our partnership with the Ferreira family to profile their coffee and select a Fine Cup quality at 82 points. By creating a long-term relationship with the farm, we aim to assist them in maintaining quality consistency.
Right from the beginning of the season, the Ferreira family has already visualized the volume proportion of coffee beans from Sapucaí Valley based on quality. Hence, this requires them to place extra attention to mapping the farm for mechanized harvest and sorting coffee early on.
Once the harvest time hits, a large volume represents early picking, and plots with a low ripeness percentage will be sold for internal markets. Meanwhile, a distinctive batch is specifically picked and dedicated for the specialty market.
One of the biggest challenges today is to pay the producer a fair price and maintain a good relationship among coffee farmers. It’s important that not only the roasters but also every single farmer knows exactly which is the journey of the coffee.
The agroforestry system from the Ferreira family aims to create a sustainable alternative to monoculture, combating climate change threats and reversing the effects of deforestation. The outcome after almost 3 years has been overwhelmingly positive. Benefits of a regenerative farming system include regulated temperatures, pest and disease outbreaks avoided & improved soil quality.
However, current climate events have revealed a strong indication that regenerative agriculture can be the fighting force against climate volatility. Hence, this is their motivation to speed up the conversion plan.
Through investing in training courses and new equipment, Eduardo and his family are looking towards a short-term goal ahead: converting 30 hectares (30% of the farm) into agroforestry within 5 years.