Food Security Project is a New Model for Self-Sufficiency for Orphans in Conflict-Torn Regions

Food Security Project is a New Model for Self-Sufficiency for Orphans in Conflict-Torn Regions

Equator Coffees Launches Chido’s Blend Coffee to Provide Critical Support

Multimedia from this Release


 Chido Govero, a young Zimbabwean woman, trains orphan girls to grow highly nutritious food using plant matter from coffee farms – creating a solution for food insecurity, climate change, and orphan self-sufficiency. Equator Coffees releases Chido’s Blend, with 100% of the profits supporting Chido’s work.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 - 6:00am

CONTENT: Press Release

San Rafael, Calif. (July 14, 2009) – Chido Govero, a dynamic 23-year old woman from rural Zimbabwe, is training her fellow orphan girls to grow critically-needed food – using little more than coffee pulp and grass clippings – and receiving vital support from California-based artisan coffee company, Equator Coffees, and the ZERI Foundation, which specializes in international sustainable development.

This week, Equator introduced Chido’s Blend™, a blend of three African coffee beans, with 100% of profits supporting Govero’s remarkable work. Govero, who is featured on the label, will use proceeds to build housing, as well as to support training programs in many coffee-growing countries.

“Chido is an inspiration to all women entrepreneurs who work for social change,” said Helen Russell, Co-founder and CEO of San Rafael-based Equator Coffees (, a woman-owned company known both for social responsibility and artisan coffees. Russell met recently with Govero, who traveled to the U.S. to visit with leaders in the specialty coffee industry. “Chido’s Blend will raise funds critical to the success of her efforts, and inspire coffee lovers to look deeper into the power of their morning cup. This takes cause coffee to an entirely new level.”

Zimbabwe, a landlocked southern African nation roughly the size of Montana, has been besieged in recent years by a controversial land redistribution campaign that has crippled the economy and domestic food production. Additionally, an estimated 25% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS, and Zimbabwe has more orphans per capita than any other nation in the world. Food is scarce, shelter is limited and girls face significant risks in this climate of scarcity.

Govero, who lost her mother to AIDS, was rescued from an orphanage by a local scientist working with the ZERI Foundation. Intelligent and determined, at 12 she began work in a university research laboratory, analyzing tissue cultures on local wild mushrooms and their viability as a domesticated, nutritious food.

Govero and her colleagues in the university discovered that for communities lacking a consistent supply of food, mushrooms – which are a mere culinary flourish in the American diet – offer superior nutrition, and have the potential to dramatically contribute to food security. Govero became fascinated with the humble, accessible and nutritious mushroom, and became an expert at making them thrive with the simple materials available even to homeless orphan girls. She is now cultivating native mushrooms in mulch composed of discarded organic materials, such as fallen leaves and the husks from coffee beans. She teaches girls to find the mushrooms in their local environments and cultivate them for food and income.

While the mushrooms provide a stable food supply, the mushroom spores transform the mulch into a fiber-rich feed which can be fed to goats and other livestock. The animal manure is subsequently composted for raising additional food crops.

Furthermore, the mulch prevents emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, by utilizing the agricultural waste from coffee production. This closed-loop ecosystem would be the envy of any advanced sustainable farming method in developed countries.

To facilitate Govero’s pilot projects, Helen Russell of Equator spearheaded the creation of a network of international sustainable coffee importers – including Sustainable Harvest and InterAmerican – and their coffee farmers in Tanzania, who are providing Govero’s training corps access to their farms so that they can learn and perfect their skills.

“The future of Africa is much brighter than we could have ever imagined before,” said Gunter Pauli of the ZERI Foundation (, which has led the effort to support Govero in coffee-growing nations. “With the power of a mere mushroom, Chido is demonstrating a model of self-sufficiency and ecological efficiency for millions of impoverished people around the world.”

At the 2009 Specialty Coffee Association of America conference, Chido and the ZERI Foundation were awarded the “Sustainability Award” for creating the most innovative project to expand and promote sustainability within the coffee industry.

Chido’s Blend™– a blend of African Arabica coffees with floral and fruity notes, supple spice and wood flavors – retails for $13.95, and is available online at and select retailers.

Govero recently published her inspiring autobiography, “The Future of Hope – Message from an African Orphan to a World in Crisis” which is available via the Equator website.

All profits from Chido's Beldn and book directly support her groundbreaking work.

About Equator Coffees

San Rafael, CA-based Equator Coffees & Teas ( is a coffee roaster, tea purveyor and coffee farm owner offering distinctive micro-lot coffees and rare teas to fine restaurants, hotels and retailers. Obsessive attention to green coffee sourcing, uncompromising roasting expertise and a 15-year commitment to sustainability create a remarkable experience in every cup. A women-owned green business, Equator works tirelessly to empower every link of the supply chain, from growers and their communities around the globe, to the natural environment, through to coffee-lovers who savor taste and integrity in their Organic, Fair Trade, and Rainforest Alliance Certified coffees. Ahead of the curve on climate change, Equator is proud to be one of the first companies in the nation to utilize the Loring Roaster, which reduces carbon emissions by 80% without compromising artisan quality. Equator has won numerous awards including the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Business (2009), National Association of Women Business Owners – Trail Blazer Award, San Francisco’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Woman Owned Businesses (7 years in a row) and the Specialty Coffee Association’s annual Roasters Choice Award (2009). Customers include the French Laundry, Bouchon Restaurants and Bakeries, Citizen Cake, Tavern in Los Angeles, Bay Bread and La Boulange.

About the ZERI Foundation:

Zero Emissions Research & Initiatives ( is a global network of creative minds seeking solutions to world challenges. The common vision shared by the members of the ZERI family is to view waste as resource and seek solutions using nature's design principles as inspiration. 

Editors & Journalists:

For high resolution photos, YouTube video, additional background materials and to schedule interviews, please contact Michael Straus,, (415) 777-1170 x302.




Michael Straus
Straus Communications