After a long drive swerving through honking Indian drivers, mopeds carrying families, towns bulldozed for the purpose of building a highway, and countless rice paddies, we finally arrived at the Shevroy Hills. Winding up the mountain, it felt as if we had just crashlanded in the Pacific Northwest, thousands of miles away from India or anything close to it.
Ramesh, the farmer arranged for us to ride through his coffee plantation on the back of a jeep. As I held onto the bar and looked out through the farm, I saw a forest through the trees. There were coffee bushes with leathery green leaves, orange and pear trees just above them, topped by a light layer of canopy trees with pepper vines winding up their trunks. He explained that he has had this farm in his family since the 30s, and when coffee prices crashed in the 90s, he decided to begin growing quality coffee instead of a large volume of coffee.
This meant that instead of having perfectly ordered rows of coffee bushes in direct sunlight with no crops between them, he would allow his forest to mimic a natural one. This means weeds, a thick layer of compost, and a variety of different tree species. Animals and birds live in his forest, creating a sustainable biosphere that holds rainwater where it falls, and reduces the tendency for erosion. Additionally, he does not need to use fertilizers (the animals do this for him) and he only uses pesticides when he absolutely has to on one or two sick trees.
After tasting his delicious coffee, it became apparent to me that sustainability begets quality. All we need to do is get out of the way and let nature run its course.