Teatulia is truly an example of what happens when regenerative agriculture is given the space and time it deserves.
In the early 2000s, Teatulia began to transform a barren and overworked land in Northern Bangladesh into a rich, thriving ecosystem. Wildlife and plant species slowly began to return to the area, lush greenery sprouted around them — and their community began to heal in more ways than one.
Creating a better food system doesn’t stop at regenerative agriculture, it needs to include the individuals who work the fields, who package and ship the ingredients and the people who receive them. In areas like Northern Bangladesh, providing the community with safe and healthy jobs, free of pesticides, is just one small part of the equation. How can we improve the lives and overall well being of our community, now and into the future?
Teatulia breaks this down into several parts: environmental, social and economic — all of which are accomplished through their Teatulia Co-Op program.
On top of using regenerative farming practices to revitalize the land — Teatulia has introduced organic vegetable farming to the community of Bangladesh. They provide the resources, financial capital and knowledge necessary for the community to grow organic food themselves. Not only does this rid the garden workers and tea of harmful pesticides, but teaches the members valuable skills. This allows co-op members to not only feed their families but also strengthen their socio-economic condition through earning a profit on their crops.
Members are given comprehensive training consisting of organic farming fundamentals, farm design and practical demonstrations. The co-op then helps vegetable farmers establish a direct connection to consumers by cutting out the middleman. Program facilitators collect vegetables directly from co-op members and supply them to the largest market in the Northern Bangladesh region, the Meena Bazar.
Teatulia is on a mission to end the cycle of poverty in their community through education and empowerment. Their Garden is operated by a co-op of over 800 women who are given educational training, including basic literacy and math education, as well as preschool education for their children.
As of 2014, 225 women have completed the literacy program. More than 117 girls have completed a secondary school (high school) certificate and all of them entered local colleges for a higher education degree. In fact, more than 214 students total (both female and male) have earned high school graduate degrees. Most move on to attend local colleges for bachelor of arts or bachelor of communications degrees or technical schools for vocational degrees in veterinary science, paramedic training, or light engineering.
The Teatulia Co-Op also offers participation in a cattle-lending program that “loans” milking cows to women, so they can earn a profit on milk they sell at the market and cow dung and compost (as a natural fertilizer) they sell back to the tea garden. This easy "barter" form of payment takes the pressure off of cash payments, making the co-op a practical alternative to other micro-loan programs. Most members manage to pay off their cow within two to three years.
Best of all, they can keep any calves the cow bears during the repayment period. The cattle-lending program has made a significant impact on the local economy since its inception in 2000. As of 2014, more than 1,700 co-op members take part in the program. Almost $500,000 in cattle loans has been distributed to the community. Dairy farming has increased employment by 450% and individual co-op members’ incomes by 300%. The program has also increased monthly milk production by 450% and cow dung for soil fertility by 828%.
We’re incredibly proud of the work Teatulia has done for their community, and the planet as a whole. Not only do they provide an exceptional quality product that is free of chemicals and pesticides, they go beyond organic, utilizing Fair Trade and regenerative practices. Teatulia continues to go above and beyond our rigorous sourcing standards and redefine what manufacturing and production can look like.