Meet one of Cozumel’s business owners and a member of their sustainable producers’ union
A few years ago, a group of local producers decided to create a union called, ‘Union de Productores Sustentables Cozumel’, in order to enter the local market as a group. For them unity means strength.
Martha Chavez is one of their members. After working many years in the local market, she decided to open her own shop, and she invited the local producers to sell their products there.
Most of the souvenir shops in Cozumel sell the same things. Martha’s shop, Kuun Cafe Productos Locales is completely different. Everything is made in Cozumel, sustainable and natural. From natural sun block to local organic honey, it is amazing how much choice there is. Ten local producers are selling their products in the Kuun Cafe shop.
The Playa Times: How did you become a producer, Martha?
Martha: “Out of necessity. I was born in Chetumal. My father was working in the electronics industry and my mother was a housewife with 10 kids. I didn’t know anything about agriculture and working the land. When I arrived in Cozumel, I was only 11 years old. Later, when I met my husband, we bought land, because at this time it was very cheap and also very wild with no electricity. So we were living in the city. Then in 2006, Hurricane Wilma destroyed everything in Cozumel in 48 hours. After the disaster, there was no work for nearly two years. My husband had been working in tourism.We decided to move onto our land. My husband built our house and I started to produce tomatoes, lettuce and kale to survive. I learned from the Yucatecan people the importance of the moon’s cycle and the crop-growing system, which is the milpa (no monoculture, no pesticide). When the economic situation in Cozumel became better, I started to produce more and invest more to start a small business. Now, I’m producing organic fruits and vegetables, organic honey, melipona honey, coffee, and medicinal plant syrup. I also make natural cosmetics. Everything is made from my own harvest. I love my job. This year I had the opportunity to open my own space in the center.”