From Danville to Rwanda: Bason Coffee Owner Completes Coffee-Planting Feasibility Study

Brad Bason, owner of Bason Coffee Roasting, and Elisa, one of his guides in Rwanda.

 

By Lisa Z. Leighton

Twenty years after the genocide that devastated Rwanda, families continue to put their lives back together. Children have lost fathers and women have lost husbands, but the strength and perseverance of the Rwandan people was recently witnessed by Bradford (Brad) Bason, owner of Bason Coffee Roasting, and his sixteen year old daughter, Elizabeth, on a recent trip to Rwanda.

The excursion wasn’t a pleasure trip, but rather an opportunity to complete a feasibility study and draft a business plan that might assist local families with increased and more efficient coffee planting and production.

The Bason family isn’t a stranger to the region. In fact, Elizabeth traveled to Rwanda twice before this trip and served as a guide of sorts for her father. Over the years, through their home church, Bloomsburg Christian Church, the Basons have supported the City of Joy Rwanda mission and the ministry of Todd and Andrea Ellingson

For a week in August, Brad and Elizabeth traveled to Gatagara, about two hours south of the Rwandan capital of Kigali, and met with local farmers and government officials to see how their experience with coffee planting and production might serve the Rwandan community. They analyzed soil samples, climate, rainfall, harvesting techniques and production methods to see how operations might be improved.

Now that the feasibility study has been completed and the varieties of beans have been selected based on the trip’s findings, Brad is writing a business plan that will be presented to the City of Joy Rwanda board of directors. Upon approval, a fundraising effort for $15,000 will be launched; once $10,000 is secured, the project will take root.

Funds raised will be used for additional land acquisition as well as fair labor rates for coffee farm workers. Brad hopes that the coffee farm will largely be women-run, with a particular emphasis on employing widows who continue to suffer from the loss caused by the genocide decades ago.

Because the beans will be sold to a co-op, the Basons will likely never see the beans that they will help to grow, but the impact of their research will be felt one-thousand fold.

To learn more about the effort, contact Brad at 570-764-2740, or email.

Lisa Z. Leighton is a marketing professional and freelance writer who lives in Columbia County.

 

Green coffee cherries hang full on coffee plants. They are picked when they ripen to red.

This machine pull the hulls off of the ripe red cherries, exposing the coffee bean inside.

Women carrying full sacks of picked coffee beans in Rwanda.

 

 

 

 

Susquehanna Greenway Partnership Officially Designates Danville a ‘River Town’

Danville is presented with plaques and signage officially designating it as a Susquehanna Greenway Partnership River Town on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (L-R) Trevor Finn, Montour County Commissioner;, Tom Forrestal, Merck Cherokee Pharmaceuticals and Danville Business Alliance Board of Directors; Matt Beltz, Columbia Montour Chamber; Dr. Ed A’Zary, Danville Borough Council; John Rodman, Danville Borough Council and Danville Business Alliance Board of Directors; Trish Carothers (kneeling), Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; Jamie Shrawder, Danville Borough; Ken Holdren, Montour County Commissioner; Gail Kulp, Susquehanna Greenway Partnership; Bob Stoudt, Montour Area Recreation Commission; Lauren Stoudt (front); David ‘Otto’ Kurecian, Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau; Dan Hartman, Montour County Commissioner; Ben Stoudt; Brian Stoudt.

Danville has successfully completed the process to be designated a River Town by the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership and a brief ceremony was held on Friday, Sept. 8 to unveil the official River Town signage at River Front Park in downtown Danville. 

The Montour County Commissioners and representatives from Danville Borough, Columbia Montour Chamber, Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, Danville Business Alliance and the Montour Area Recreation Commission were all on hand to celebrate this achievement.

The Susquehanna Greenway Partnership is a nonprofit that seeks to:

  • Determine the status of regional greenway efforts;
  • Build upon public participation activities previously conducted in the corridor;
  • Promote the importance of strong community involvement in present and future greenway development;
  • Provide a diverse and inclusive program to maximize input from all segments of the population; and
  • Promote local ownership of the greenway plan and its implementation!

The SGP’s River Town program provides assistance to communities that are located on the Susquehanna Greenway “that seek to revitalize and celebrate their River connection, based on four key principles:

  • Respect and work with the nature of the Susquehanna River
  • Connect with the River (physically, visually, spiritually)
  • Involve people with the River and with their River Town
  • Recognize that economic development favors River Towns

Communities that would like to become an official SGP-designed River Town need to go through a process including a River Town assessment, define a community vision and goals, develop an action plan for revitalization projects, identify partners for implementation and collectively promote all River Towns. Through the help of many local community leaders and partners, Danville recently joined its nearby neighbors Lewisburg and Selinsgrove, among many others, as a SGP-designed River Towns. Berwick is also currently in the process of becoming a River Town. 

9-11 Memorial Planned at Bloomsburg University

Two Bloomsburg University student veterans place flags in the Academic Quad for last year’s 9-11 Memorial (from Bloomsburg University Facebook)

Bloomsburg University’s military students and volunteers will once again set up Bloomsburg’s annual September 11 memorial display, honoring veterans that have lost their lives since the terrorist attacks. The group will be placing 7,000 flags on the Academic Quad beginning on Sunday morning. BU’s military students are defined as current and former military peronnel, their spouses and dependents, and participants in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). On Monday, Sept. 11, there will be four moments of silence to commemorate the four planes crashing on Sept. 11, 2001. 

Bloomsburg Fair to Feature Several Chamber Members, Including Some Proceeds Going to Ronald McDonald House of Danville

The Bloomsburg Fair preview day luncheon

The Bloomsburg Fair held its annual fair preview luncheon on Wednesday, Sept. 6, and announced several new exhibits and participants in this year’s fair, which include several Chamber members.

On Tuesday, Sept. 26, for every regular-priced $8 admission ticket sold, $1 will go to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Danville and its mission to provide a “home-away-from-home” for parents and families of children who are hospitalized or receiving outpatient care for the treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses. Children under the age of 18 will be admitted free on this day. 

New this year, PPL Electric Utilities will host a live line exhibit out of its trailer on 11th St. near the Sky Ride, which will feature “sparks, flames and crackle” that comes from electrical contact. Intended to show attendees the danger of and teach safety around electrical wires, the exhibit will feature a smaller-scaled version of utility poles and live wires, and will show what can happen when objects come in contact with 7,200 electrical volts. Daily demonstrations will take place and will last about 20 minutes.

WBRE-TV will be at the fair through its duration and will have live broadcasts and the opportunity for patrons to stop by and meet the Eyewitness News Team. 

Among the nearly 1,000 vendors signed up to participate at the fair, they include Chamber members such as Bason Coffee Roasting, 3B Consultant Services, the Columbia Montour Area Agency on Aging, the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau, J.A. Aten Beef Jerky & Best Bar-B-Q Sauce, Mahindra of Bloomsburg, Luzerne County Community College, Renco Ace Hardware, Steph’s Subs, Wesley United Methodist Church and AGAPE Love From Above To our Community

Geisinger Fresh Food Pharmacy Making a Difference for Diabetes Patients

Dr. Andrea Feinberg gives a presentation about Geisinger’s Fresh Food Pharmacy program to members of Geisinger Medical Center’s Advisory Council.

Meal choices are a major determining factor of personal health. Our bodies need certain nutrients to work properly or health will decline over time. This is even more apparent and important for people suffering from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, where the consequences are more severe. Geisinger’s Fresh Food Pharmacy Program sees food as a medicine in maintaining proper health and preventing diseases.

Members of Geisinger Medical Center’s Advisory Council were provided an overview of the program recently by Dr. Andrea Feinberg. Dr. Feinberg is the Medical Director of Health and Wellness for Geisinger and is also the spouse of Dr. David Feinberg, Geisinger President and CEO.

The Fresh Food Pharmacy is designed to address the health challenges faced by patients with diabetes and food insecurity. The program is being piloted in Northumberland County with scalability to those most in need throughout the extended region and the nation. Complimentary goals of the program include:

  • Ensuring that area residents with diabetes and those who suffer from food insecurity have access to quality healthcare and nutrition education, as well as to the nutritious foods they need to get and stay well
  • Narrowing the meal gap (i.e., the shortage of meals) in Northumberland County
  • Reducing the incidence of short-term diabetes complications
  • Decreasing the amount of diabetes-related medications the patient takes
  • Decreasing the patient’s cost-of-care burden
  • Educating members of the community on the connection between nutrition and wellness

The initiative, a partnership between the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and Geisinger, began its pilot phase in July 2016, when it enrolled six food-insecure patients with diabetes from Geisinger’s Kulpmont Clinic. Participants are not only given healthy foods, but recipes and guidance from a Geisinger dietitian. Members of the initial pilots have seen significant decreases in their HbA1c blood sugar levels and improvements in emotional well-being. The program will be implemented at other Geisinger locations over time.