Conversation with a producer: Doña Natalia Simón Ponce

January 22, 2021

Today we are going to Puebla, in the beautiful town of Zongozotla (5 hour-drive from Mexico City). Here, 30 women of the cooperative Productores de Café del Totonacapan are working hard to create a tasty lot for you. This is the story of Doña Natalia Simón Ponce.

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Natalia is 42 years old, she was born in Zongozotla, a remote community in the northern highlands of Puebla. She is a woman proud of her culture and origin. She understands Spanish but only speaks the Totonac dialect, a pre-hispanic language still spoken by more than 90% of the population of the town.

She is the daughter of a single mother and since she was a child, she accompanied her mother to the field and participated in the activities that were carried out in the cultivation of coffee. One of her best memories is when she was twelve, she liked to work during the harvest because the farm was the only place where she could spend days with friends since they did not attend school at that time. Hopefully, things have changed and today, basic education is mandatory in Mexico and children have to go to school.

“The farm was the only place where I could spend days with friends since we did not attend school at that time”

At the age of 16, Natalia decided to form her own family with her husband Gaudencio Simón Ponce. Their main source of income came from working as day laborers on their in-laws’ coffee farm. When their first daughter was born, they inherited a plot of land called “Zotic” with an area of 0.5 hectares which was full of old plantations and almost no production. Therefore they dedicated themselves to the task of renewing little by little the whole area and worked hard to produce good coffee and acquire more land.

Natalia and her husband always kept in mind the importance of working in pair and they finally obtained their 2.25 hectares plantation. Unfortunately, four years ago, their trees were devastated by the rust disease since they used criollo varieties that were susceptible to the plague.

In the search for alternatives to confront the low productivity, they decided to integrate the cooperative Totonacapan and were C.A.F.E. Practices certified. This certification brings a lot of benefits: donation of Marsellesa coffee plants, follow-up, and technical assistance amongst others. They managed to have a plot that is today a model for the producers of the locality, harvesting 15 quintals of parchment in the 0.5 hectares of the farm “Zotic”.

Natalia has been working as a coffee producer for 32 years now and her goal is to build another house for her daughter who is currently in her first year of high school.

Doña Natalia would like people to know how women are involved in the field to achieve a good harvest and a good quality coffee. She and the group of women in the cooperative know and are passionate about the entire process of coffee production from filling the bag, planting the trees, cleaning the land, tracings for planting, cherry-picking and wet processing.

Natalia and her husband managed to have a plot that is today a model for the producers of the locality, harvesting 15 quintals of parchment in the 0.5 hectares of the farm “Zotic”.

Currently, her husband is away from the community, looking to generate other income to sustain the high cost of living and the farm management, as the low stock prices and the recent recovery of productivity do not allow him to be with his family. Doña Natalia is currently in charge of working and managing the plots with the support of her children and neighbors. She is more motivated than ever to make the farm a success story since she dreams of having the whole family in the same home.

You will be able to order a sample of the Totonacapan women’s lot in the next few days.