BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — Over the last several months, the pandemic has laid waste to many small businesses. But many are working together to help each other, even those who don't live next door.
Grounds for Thought coffee shop in Bowling Green is helping the small family-owned farm in Colombia that supplies their coffee beans. The shop is the only importer in North America of the El Carmelo coffee farm, according to Grounds for Thought co-owner Kelly Wicks.
Last year, Wicks started importing his coffee beans from the small farm in the Terurel region of Colombia. But just like his business has been impacted by the pandemic, so has the farm.
"Small farmers all over the world have been impacted negatively by COVID," Wicks said. "This is a project to try and help our friends in Terurel Colombia to make sure they can continue to plant and grow delicious, sustainable coffee for future generations."
The project is called Growing for Tomorrow. Wicks is committing to planting 6,000 coffee trees or roughly 10 percent of the El Carmelo Farm. He said this is a unique partnership that helps both of them for years to come.
"This is true family to family direct trade, and so what this allows is a greater percentage of the money that we spend on coffee goes directly to the farmer," Wicks said.
It takes four years for a tree to release its first beans. But the best beans come between eight and 15 years, so Wicks says this is a long-term investment.
"There are no quick fixes right now in small business, and so this is a way, we are developing a long-term relationship with them and this is one of those objectives," he said.
Wicks said he knows the virus won't be around forever. That's why. along with growing coffee, he wants to grow relationships.
"It is a challenge, and I think by working together we can use our synergy to solve problems that will allow us to move forward post-pandemic," he said.
The first 6000 trees will be planted this October. But for every two pounds of coffee sold at the shop, Grounds for Thought will plant an additional tree.