Traditionally women specialise in the painstaking process of tea plucking, but some are taking on more and more responsibility and giving the cooperatives the benefit of their expertise and particular skills. Here we meet three such women who, thanks to an equal measure of humour, bravery and tenacity are developing ambitious projects in the tea and rooibos gardens…
She is the granddaughter of one of the first growers of Wupperthal rooibos and Jessica wanted more than anything to continue the family tradition.
In 2004 this passionate young woman took the brave step of opening a shop selling cosmetics based on rooibos and aloe ferox in the small isolated hamlet of Wupperthal. And it’s a success!
Jessica maintains an almost intimate relationship with these plants: you could listen to this fresh-faced young woman promoting its virtues for hours.
Jessica refuses to compromise on the quality of cosmetics she makes with the help of four other women, and patiently picks rooibos grown in the wild and also cultivated on the three hectares of land which her small business leases. To improve even further, she is currently training in biodynamic agriculture for which she feels a close affinity.
With the profits from the thriving business, she is currently building her own house and she dreams of starting her own family soon.
It was in 1997, while she was farming in her native village of Nawadevita that Mrs. DG. Karunawathie got into organic farming
It was the start of a new life for her, one far removed from debts and creditors. She joined the SOFA cooperative which at that time was already offering to buy tea crops from small producers for guaranteed minimum prices.
Held in great esteem by her peers, it was only natural that in 2014, she was elected Secretary of the Small Organic Farmers Association (SOFA) which brings together and helps more than 2,500 families of small farmers in Sri Lanka.
She is particularly proud of working for the certified organic, biodynamic and fair trade cooperative. Being a member has allowed her and the other farmers to harvest up to ten times more tea leaves, to be given seedlings, agricultural equipment, and training and has also enabled her to give her daughter a good education.
Today, still with the support of the SOFA, Mrs Karunawathie, who has not forgotten her years of struggle, has started a project to grow ornamental flowers. One of its aims is to help the poorest women in her village. A fine example of the sisterhood!
Zhang Yue Jin lives in the beautiful Autonomous Prefecture of Enshi in Hubei Province. She is a member of the Xuan’en tea production cooperative in her village.
Since 2009, she has helped the manager to train and advise the women of the village in the techniques of cultivating and producing organic tea.
At the same time, she manages a three-hectare garden for one of the most important members of the cooperative.
Zhang Yue Jin is known for her expertise in the technique of rooting organic tea seedlings, plantation management and the selection of leaves during the picking.
Being a member of the cooperative has provided her and her family with many opportunities. She is particularly happy to be able to financially support one of her two daughters who is studying at the University of Nationalities in Enshi, the neighbouring city.
When asked about her dream, she simply replied that she would like the cooperative to continue to grow, as it has improved the living conditions of the inhabitants of the village, which itself has considerably improved.
Écrit par Les Jardins de Gaïa
Pionniers sur le marché des thés et tisanes bio et équitables, Les Jardins de Gaïa proposent, depuis 1994, des grands crus nature, des classiques et des créations maison originales. Privilégiant les petits producteurs et les récoltes manuelles, ils ont développé au fil des années une gamme généreuse et variée de thés, rooibos et tisanes aux qualités gustatives reconnues, ainsi qu’une gamme d’épices bio et prémiums proposée sous la marque Terra Madre. Tel un jardin épanoui, la force des Jardins de Gaïa tient dans la diversité des terroirs et l’engagement des hommes qui la travaillent…
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