Our Roots: The Mam People & Royal Blue Organics (RBO)

Royal Blue Organics (RBO) is the parent company uniting Café Mam and Royal Blueberries in Eugene, Oregon. RBO’s founder, dahinda meda (1940-2016), was a pioneer at the forefront of environmental justice, working on many projects in organic farming, stream restoration, and erosion control. His passion for sharing knowledge brought him to Tlaxcala, Mexico in 1982, where he taught classes on erosion control to local farmers.

These farmers contacted him after reading an article published in Co-Evolution Quarterly about New Growth Forestry, a worker-owned cooperative dahinda was a part of that was taking on stream restoration work in northern California. Some of these students went on to become advisers of organic techniques with a new coffee cooperative that was being formed in 1987 in Chiapas, called ISMAM. That same year, dahinda purchased a farm in Eugene Oregon, and started producing organic blueberries.

As ISMAM organized and the fruits of their labors started to come in, they reached out to dahinda again - this time to try and sell their organically produced coffee. Dahinda founded Café Mam with the purchase of ISMAM’s very first 37,500-pound container of coffee in 1989, and thus RBO was born.

Cafe Mam’s namesake is the Mam people, one of the many subgroups of the indigenous Maya living in the Sierra Madre mountain communities in Chiapas, Mexico, and Guatemala. At the time RBO was created, Chiapas was on its way to becoming a center of organic coffee production and the indigenous farmers gained worldwide recognition as leading experts and developers of in-field techniques.

Two years later, dahinda, along with his son John and nephew Brad, formed a family partnership to lead RBO with a shared conviction for organic agriculture and sustainability. RBO proudly supports farmers on their journey towards conserving and rebuilding the natural environment and working towards a higher quality of life for their families.