Harris Freeman & Company sources tea, herbs, and spices from different parts of the world, including the United States, India, Vietnam, Mexico, Argentina, Indonesia, and parts of Africa.
We wouldn’t be successful without the farming communities in origin countries that help grow our tea, herbs, and spices. We are committed to these farming communities for providing us with high quality products that have helped us achieve a reputation for excellence.
With a simple vision of making a difference, we started the Harris Freeman Foundation, a section 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that provides philanthropic services or monetary donations to aid under-developed communities, victims of natural disasters, and other supporting charity organizations.
Our mission is to impact the lives of source farm communities through a multi-pronged approach, with focused commitment to three critical areas.
• Health and Safety
• Educational support for source farm communities through direct financial contributions and development projects
• Sustainable production practices with respect for the environment
Our field representatives visit the growing areas on a regular basis and gain a first-hand look at the environment and living conditions of these farming communities. With the assistance of local councils, we identify the prime needs of each area and work directly with the community leaders to oversee the distribution of funds and progression of donations.
Kotagiri is a small town situated at an altitude of 6,500 feet in the picturesque Nilgiri region of Southern India. As a result of its optimal climate and rich top soil, this region produces high quality black and green tea. Harris Freeman & Co sources tea from this region for its premium tea blends.
In 2008, we decided to partner with the Church of South India (C.S.I) School, which has been in existence for over 100 years and serves nearly 850 students from 6th grade to the 12th grade. Many of the students in the C.S.I school are the children of tea farm workers. The school explained to us that they needed more classrooms. Most classrooms were over crowded as students had to sit tightly on small wooden benches and share text books. Recognizing a shortage of classrooms at the school, we embarked on a project to build five new classrooms and a computer lab. We also raised funds to provide the classrooms with study desks and chairs.
In 2010, our efforts assumed a new dimension when a major retailer, contributed computers for the computer lab at the school. The representatives of the company visited Kotagiri with us to inaugurate the new computers.
In the last few months, we have worked closely with the CSI school representatives to ensure that the five classrooms, computer lab, and furniture provided meet their needs. The classroom, computers, and furniture will provide students with additional learning sources and help them gain access to an improved curriculum.
GIA NGHIA, VIETNAM
Gia Nghĩa is a rural town located in Central highlands of Vietnam. Known for its rainfalls and rainy climate, it has also become an economic hub for Vietnam’s bustling pepper industry. Harris Freeman sources pepper from the region for some of the largest spice brands in North America.
As part of our commitment to facilitate quality education for the children of farm growers, Harris met with the local commission in 2010 to assess their greatest needs. We were asked to help build a foundation and drainage system for the local Nguyễn Viết Xuân Primary School. The existing foundation and drainage system was prone to flooding, which would prevent the students from attending class and eventually deteriorate the existing classrooms. In October 2011, our project was finished and over 260 students ranging from 1st to 5th grade were welcomed to their new school. The new foundation will not only reduce absenteeism, but will provide students a playground and help the school continue to provide affordable education.
Dos de Mayo is a tea and yerba mate growing region in Missiones, Argentina. Known for its proximity to Iguazú Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world, it is also home to one of Harris Freeman’s largest suppliers. Recognizing yet another shortage of classrooms available to the children of tea growers, we partnered with the Victoria Jean Navajas Foundation to help build a classroom for the local General San Martin School (School 417).” Established in 1957, School 417 serves over 500 students from primary to 7th grade.
Mulanje is in Southern Malawi right in the center of the country's tea growing region. Harris Freeman's UK Division, Keith Spicer, sources tea from this region for Sainsbury's private label line of black teas. In an effort to provide the local tea farmers with the tools and training required to improve their tea yields and generate a sustainable income, the Harris Freeman Foundation & Sainsbury's launched the SUKESA project.
We partnered with local tea producers, such as the Sukambizi Association Trust (SAT), which manages a group of 8,000+ smallholder farmers and Lujeri Tea Estate, one of the main processors of black tea in Malawi.
• Built nurseries through which cuttings from the latest tea plants (purchased from the Malawi Tea Research Foundation) could be nurtured and then sold to the smallholder farmers
• Trained 72 lead farmers and imparted over 1,300 hours of training to smallholders on the latest tea husbandry techniques
• Created demonstration plots, in which the best plantation management practices are showcased for smallholder farmers to learn from
Combined, these nurseries, training sessions, and demonstration plots have helped us distribute 1.2 million plants and train 8,200 farmers. Over the next few years, we hope to increase our distribution to 7.5 million plants, which would translate to 1,300 acres of tea fields.
DA NANG, VIET NAM
During the Vietnam War (1962-1971), 20 million gallons of “Agent Orange”, a chemical herbicide, were dropped in Viet Nam. It was originally dropped to defoliate the jungle areas and stop the Viet Cong from using the jungle trails to transport supplies to the front line. Inadvertently, the ground water used by the local farming communities was poisoned. As a result, over 400,00 Vietnamese were poisoned or maimed and since then, over 500,000 children have been born with birth defects or abnormalities.
In the 1990s, the Vietnamese Army had successfully used The Hubbard method for Detoxification to build up the weak muscles of ex-service men who had been affected by Agent Orange. Convinced that this technique should be available to the masses, The Da Nang Association of Victims of Agent Orange (DAVA) wanted to set up a clinic that would use the Hubbard Method to treat Da Nang citizens.
Harris Freeman felt compelled to partner with DAVA and help fund the clinic.
In 2014, the Harris Freeman Foundation built a 2-story, 180 square meter clinic. The clinic includes:
- A steam room that utilizes the Hubbard Method of Detoxification to detoxify 30 patients every 3 weeks.
- A pharmacy to disperse medication and vitamins to patients and help them build up their immune systems
- An exercise room to help patients exercise their muscles.
- A lab to help monitor the health of patients
- A staff of doctors and pharmacists trained specifically to treat patients affected by Agent Orange.
Hundreds of applications have been submitted by patients. These applications are reviewed by a panel of doctors to ensure that the worst effected patients are given treatment first.
The project was inaugurated in April 2014 by senior officials from Harris Freeman, Farmer Brothers, and the local province.
THE LUGUMBO REHABILITATION PROJECT, RUNGWE, TANZANIA
This 3 year project, started in 2014 is funded by the Harris Freeman Foundation and by the Fair Development Fund which was set up by Sainsbury’s (a major UK Retailer) and Comic Relief (a UK Charity). The project also consists of 3 non-financial stakeholders. These are
• The Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (as the producer of the tea through a consortium of 11,000 small holder farmers)
• Wakulima Tea Company (as the processor of the black tea produced by these small-holder farmers)
• Keith Spicer (as the buyer/blender/packer of the tea)
The objectives of the project are fourfold:
• Rehabilitation of a 37ha communal tea field owned by 126 smallholders
• To increase efficiency and sustainability in production – through best practice agriculture husbandry training
• To enable farmers to achieve higher quality crops and rely less on commercial fertilizers
• To improve smallholder farmer livelihoods
To-date we have:
• Made a great start in rejuvenating the 37 ha plot and provided training to the 126 farmers
• Selected and started the training of 150 lead trainers who will then pass on the provide training to the at least half (5,000) of the small holder farmers in the local tea growers association on the latest tea husbandry techniques
VUNG TAU PROVINCE, VIET NAM
A major two year Sustainable Pepper Initiative was started in February 2015 and is a project to help up to 500 small holder Pepper farmers in Vietnam
The project aims at implementing the standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Good Agricultural Practices of Vietnam (VietGAP), and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) so as to ensure the social, economic and environmental sustainability of pepper cultivation
Funds come from the Foundation and IDH – a sustainable trade organization based in Holland which is supported by NGO’s, Government bodies and private companies
The Foundation is working with the Research Institute for Biotechnology and Environment, part of Ho Chi Min University, to provide agronomy training and impart knowledge to farmers, with particular emphasis in the area of pesticides to reduce the risk to the farmers, the environment and to reduce the level of pesticides in the Pepper itself.
The project is managed by Harris Freeman employees based in Vietnam and India (farming experts).