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Culture: Jerry can inspiration from Paddy & Scotts

Jerry Can (4164378)
Jerry Can (4164378)

On a warm day in 2016 we were travelling by Jeep to Paddy & Scott’s Muchomba coffee farm in Kenya. Along the road we spotted a little girl carrying a heavy metal jerry can full of water. Aged just six she was in the middle of a 13km round trip to collect water for the Ruiga school, not far from our farm. We discovered the pupils of the school made this trip daily, a far cry from our lives in the UK, and our encounter sparked an idea.

With the seed of an idea planted, we wondered. . . would we be able to help

these schoolchildren get fresh water? We already had plans to improve facilities at the farm by diverting water from the nearby river to create new farm coffee washing stations, allowing us to manage the complete coffee bean harvest processing in-house.

How much extra work would it really be for us to get fresh water to the school? It turns out: quite a bit! But we decided that if we were making the effort for our coffee beans, the community and pupils of the Ruiga School damn-sure deserved fresh water too.

In fact, we pushed the boat out; not only did we ensure the children of the Meru community had access to clean, running water and sanitation, but we built new school facilities, including a shower and toilet block. It was hard work – the diversion trench was dug by hand across 6.5km to bring water from the farm to the school – but it was so worth it.

The Meru Community Farm Project

The process changed their lives and ours too. We created The Meru Community Farm Project, which includes 4,000 coffee trees allocated for members to buy. Proceeds from the Meru Community Farm Project and its harvest directly supports the community.

This month, we launched our long-anticipated new retail coffee: Jerry Can. With beans from the Muchomba Farm, this craft coffee is fruity, flavourful and creating positive change.

Every purchase of Jerry Can coffee supports our continued work in the Meru community, which is great news for pupils of the Ruiga School. It means they can drop the jerry cans and get back into the classroom.

With sales continuing, it’s enabled us to install new roofs and windows at the school this summer– which was a joyous occasion; believe it or not it’s the first time they’ve had glass windows.

Fuelling ambition

Our sponsorship and support doesn’t stop there. We’ve built, and continue to maintain, a model coffee farm in the school grounds which is used to teach modern farming techniques. For the children, it’s their opportunity to understand and discover the latest farming methods themselves. The trees are still too young to produce any coffee this year, but the children are so proud of their efforts. The coffee grown on the school farm provides community funds for school uniforms and school places for children that can’t afford it.

We are beginning to see the full benefits of the new irrigation system on the farm too. We’ve established methods to re-use water from the washing station, harness rainwater and use this to irrigate the crop; with the excess being diverted back to the river further downstream.

We’re incredibly proud to be an independent Suffolk business managing and growing our coffee beans from field to cup. Fuelling ambition, we’re driving forward to create sustainable change in the Meru area, supporting the next generation of coffee farmers and encouraging sustainable growing practises for years to come.

Our coffee beans are roasted in the UK and distributed from our own warehouse here in Suffolk. Jerry Can coffee is available at your local Paddy & Scott’s café or you can buy direct from Paddy & Scott’s online.

Scott Russell

CEO Paddy and Scott’s

Scott Russell is a member of the European Coffee Expo 2019 Steering Panel

Paddy & Scott’s

Abbeygate Street and Abbeycroft Leisure Centre, Bury St Edmunds,

72 High Street, Hadleigh


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