La Merced del Potrero is a small coffee town overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Oaxaca’s southern Coastal region. This coffee has been produced by a group of approximately 256 women calling themselves Female Coffee Producers of La Merced del Potrero (Mujeres Cafetaleras la Merced del Potrero). Together they farm about 610 hectares of coffee in the fertile foothills of Oaxaca’s Sierra Sur (Southern Mountains). The parcels of land are located between 900 and 1000 meters above sea level, though the town itself is found at a much lower elevation than the coffee plantations which line the top of the mountain.
The Female Coffee Producers of La Merced del Potrero utilize 100% organic means of production. The work done annually consists of cutting and removing branches after harvesting, two phases of weeding and an application of compost, all of which is work executed by the owners of the plots and their families. During harvest, around 3 passes of selective handpicking are made. After being harvested, the cherries are pulped on the producers’ own farms and then fermented in tanks for approximately 18 hours before being washed and dried on concrete patios.
The group aims improve productivity whilst maintaining their organic certification and also fortifying the living conditions of each member. The women who are part of the group have also initiated a program growing organic vegetables in their back gardens, which they sell at the organic market in Huatulco (on the coast) in order to supplement income earned from coffee. In addition, the groups plans to plant 50,000 of more productive varietals plant and improve the productivity of the co-operative.