Growers Alliance has never just been about coffee. Born and raised in Kenya, Purity Gikunju started the business with partner Martin Kabaki to support small coffee farms and farmers back in her native country. And that support has expanded far beyond merely selling their coffee here in St. Augustine. Purity and Martin also started the 501C3 non profit organization Kijiji International, whose mission is to improve the lifestyles of the coffee growers and educate them on utilizing any available resources in order to be economically independent.
Their list of sponsored projects is lengthy and impressive. They’ve started a 16-station Dialysis Clinic in Naivasha, Kenya. They’ve hosted seminars for empowering women on using the resources around them to become financially independent. They’ve bought schools uniforms and supplies for children in Kathunguri Primary School, Embu district. They’ve given workshops on modern sustainable farming methods through some of Kenya’s finest learning institutions. And that’s just the beginning.
Much of the business that Growers Alliance does in St. Augustine comes through the farmers market at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre. Each Saturday, they would see dozens of locals come by their table, looking for a refreshing cup or fragrant bag of low acid, pesticide-free, fair trade coffee. The success there encouraged Purity and Martin to open a brick and mortar location on Anastasia Boulevard, where they created more than a coffee shop. They built a community.
The farmers market has still been a huge part of the shop’s business, so when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down gatherings like these, Growers Alliance took a hard hit. They’ve weathered a hurricane and come through on the other side, but this is a new adversary. And they’re asking for the community’s support – come in or drive-through for your morning cup of coffee; purchase some of their beautiful merchandise; even buy a gift card to enjoy later on. Through the help of some local partners, Purity and Martin put together a moving video about their story and their place in St. Augustine.
“Community in St. Augustine means love,” says Purity in the short film. “I’ve experienced it here. I’ve seen people carry us through all of our challenges – and now COVID. That is what I see in St. Augustine.”
The following local creatives have given their time to help support Growers Alliance:
- Producers: Michael LeGrand & Eva Nagorski
- Director of Photography/Editor: Michael LeGrand
- Additional Camera Work: Jon Noeth
- Photographer: Rob Futrell
- Promotion: Old City Public Relations