Fraser Tea Farm Direct Tea Farm Visit - Nepal
The intoxicating words “I think I am going to Katmandu!” from Bob Seger’s Katmandu song have always sparked the imagination and desire to go to Katmandu. These words moved from the imagination to reality for Fraser Tea as Tom and Bernie Fraser took a trip to Nepal to visit the first organic tea field in Nepal and support a local school. Nepal is a small county which is landlocked between India and China. As with most land locked countries there are great economic challenges for trade outside its borders. These challenges have made Nepal dependent upon its neighbors demands and restrictions which has left Nepal as one of the poorest countries in the region.
One must only visit Nepal to see the amazing beauty and rich history Nepalese bring to our world. When you fly into Nepal you are awestruck as you look out the airplane window and are meet by the beauty of the world’s tallest mountain - Mt. Everest. The beauty of this natural wonder trickles down into the beauty of the Nepalese people and their appreciation for oneness with the world. Luckily, we were able to spend a few days a block away from the second holiest Buddhist site outside Tibet. This Boudhanath Stupa was very peaceful to visit and join the eternal walk of people circling this temple. Encountering different cultures not only expands one’s view of the world, but it brings into focus how diverse our world is. I think the hospitality of Nepal is showcased in the very simple but almost ceremonial greeting. This very simple gesture of putting your hands together, as if holding the encounter in prayer, making a slight bow, and offering the greeting “Namaste!” It truly sets the stage for a very hospitable encounter.
Although our trip allowed for some sightseeing its primary focus was to visit one of our suppliers who run the first organic tea field in Nepal and secondly to support one of the local schools. Tea fields are often located outside of more populated areas and this was no exception. It involved a 6-hour trip in a little SUV speeding through often one lane twisting roads through the mountains. This ride offered not only beautiful scenic views but also deep exhilaration as you found yourself clinging hard to the car handles. The tea field offices are located close to the main mountain road for easier distribution. The fields were a few hours ride along an unpaved single-lane mountain cliff road. This trip was delayed as we waited for the road to be repaired where erosion had taken part of it away the night before. Such isolated tea fields have communities which develop around them. Not only do these communities care for the tea fields, but they also have schools, markets, housing etc. which support this community.
This socio-environmental system which develop around these tea fields emphasizes the great care and respect the people have for the environment and their source of livelihood. To that point I was struck by one of the oldest tea plants in the area where the locals had made a shrine. It has a little wall to protect it and prayer flags to honor what it has provided for them. This little shrine is just a very small glimpse into how the Nepalese treat the tea plants and more importantly how they treat the people who live and work there. This is not just a 9-5 job but a cultural way of life. A way of life which can only be seen by visiting the farm and people. It also emphasizes the importance of developing relationships with tea farms. The farm direct model that Fraser Tea employs allows us, in a small way, to be part of this socio-environmental system.
Proudly, because of our customers, we have been able to give back and in a small way help to support this tea community not only indirectly by purchasing tea but also in direct support to one of the local schools. When the leadership of the community pointed out that there was no place for the kids to play at the school Fraser Tea stepped up to purchase the land for the kids to have a playground. There is always a very humbling feeling when you see the joy and appreciation of people whom you have helped. Farm Direct relationships highlights this connection between people. We hope that all our customers who are apart of our Fraser Tea family realize that they are apart of this connection and are in a small way connected to these farms and communities we support.