Thamara Weerasena, along with her husband Sugath and four children, runs the family farm in the village of Gurukele and supplies much of the leaves used in our Wild Harvest Organic Teas.
Her farm is a member of the Small Organic Farmer Association (SOFA), a group of small-scale farmers who grow tea, spices and vegetable crops for the market and for home consumption. Ms Weerasena is vice president of SOFA's Nillamba Organic Branch Society, consisting of 18 member farms in and around Gurukele, each committed to organic farming practices.
Her farm hasn't always been organic. She remembers chemicals and pesticides causing illnesses and polluting fresh water in the region. She's learned, and now teaches, organic and sustainable farming techniques to other SOFA members. Today organic compost heaps and manual weeding have replaced the use of chemical fertilizers and weed killers on her land. Although the transition has been rigorous, Weerasena is enthusiastic about the benefits that six years of organic agriculture have brought. Since going organic, the green leaves on her tea bushes are heavier, of higher quality and overall tea and spice yields on her farm have improved.
The growth in Fair Trade has also had a notable impact on her farm and family welfare. Fair Trade has provided funding to expand production and diversify her crops. Demand for Fairly Traded foods has allowed her to command better prices, more income for her business and improved way of life for her family.