PCSE Seed Grants in Action: A Note from Nina Gerona ’15

In April, the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship awarded five seed grants to Wesleyan students embarking on high-impact projects around the globe. Each grant recipient will be reporting on his/her work with blog posts and photos. Here’s one, a report from Nina Gerona ’15…

Big Tree FarmsI’m writing an update now from the Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia, I’m about 12 hours away from my final destination of Bali, Indonesia where I will be spending the next semester working with Big Tree Farms.

Big Tree Farms is a food company focused on providing organic and fair trade products that promote social, economic and ecologic sustainability.  By reimagining the way food is produced, Big Tree Farms is working with over 13,000 cacao, coconut, and cashew and other farmers across Indonesia to alter the traditional, often oppressive, food production system. By helping the farmers gain access to small loans, collective bargaining, and transparent, small scale supply chains that reduce the need for middle men, BTF is helping these often impoverished farmers create value addition to their products and create a positive change in their lifestyle.

survey sampleWith the generous support of the Patricelli Center seed grant I am going to continue a project that I began with this company last summer.  I will be working on a survey of social metrics which will be given to the company’s farmer groups. The survey will provide data on the farmer’s living situations and show if, and how, they change as they continue working with BTF. This data help the company know if they are successful in their goals of creating health and life long sustainability for these rural farmers.  Many of the questions will focus on basic needs such as “do you have access to clean water” which can raise red flags for the company is the farmers are in an unacceptable state.  The survey is most likely going to be given orally since there are many illiterate farmers but we are also trying to use many pictographs and drawings that can be answered without reading.

I’m excited and anxious for my work to begin.  As an intern for this company I’m sure I will also be working on many other projects related to food production and farming. It will be interesting to see how the survey gets implemented and if it will be an effective measurement tool.  I’m sure I will be learning a lot!

Nina in BaliIf you want more regular updates I will be doing some blogging here. http://ninadventures.wordpress.com/

My next update will be from my office in the Big Tree Farm bamboo chocolate factory! If you want more information on the work of Big Tree Farms you can check out their website here http://bigtreefarms.com/

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