Though our story has many roots, it really comes down to a Central American Isaac Newton type moment in the summer of 2002. It was a moment of respite and clarity on the most beautiful and remote beach in Nicaragua. Mango tress were everywhere when Sol Simple's founder, Will Burke, looked around with his wife and wondered how such earthly delights were falling to the ground and wasting away in a country with so much potential and need. They talked about it for no more than one minute and the idea got filed while Will and his wife, Maria, went for a swim to ease the summer heat.
Rewind to 1998 when Will moved from Chicago to Nicaragua for two years as a literature professor with the US Embassy school and fell in love with the country and his future wife, who was also teaching. At the suggestion of his wife, in 2000 the two packed for Boulder, Colorado and simultaneously pursued advanced degrees at CU-Boulder. The influence and optimism of alternative energy and natural foods in Boulder was palpable.
With the hold of sustainable healthy living in Colorado-Will's lifelong second home, Will and Maria moved to Venezuela for six years, but longed for many things Boulder-healthy treats and environmental conscientiousness. After Will's fifth year in Venezuela and having traveled around all over the continent with his two young children, he and his wife found themselves again on a beach talking about the few available healthy snacks for kids or for themselves for that matter. At the same time, Will was tossing around the idea of going back to Nicaragua to start-up a project to diversify the means of marginalized communities. The images of the mangoes lying on the ground mixed with the high demand for healthy organic snacks culminated into Will's wanting to start a dried fruit plant, but not just any dried fruit plant. He wanted to design and construct a dried fruit plant that integrated renewable energy into the processing and supported the surrounding community in the most direct way possible.
Today Sol Simple now has the largest solar hybrid dryer in all of Central America, employs 18 single mothers and sources from 35 different producers whom either have converted to certified organic production or are in transition. Because of the direct market link model, Sol Simple works on organic and renewable energy integration development programs regionally as well. Providing our fans with the highest quality healthy products, pioneering organic certification, organizing small farmers and supporting super moms is our daily mission.
We don't let anyone do the work for us. These days Will is in Nicaragua everyday partnering directly with small farmers and advising them on their production schedules and methods to coordinate and prepare them for organic inspections and our processing dates. Will personally equips all of the employees with the skills to properly select only the best fruit, and how to process and package them. Will and his partner educate the plant manager about renewable energy and operation of the equipment. He even repairs equipment and teaches English to the employees while at it.
Sol Simple is currently devising plans to build a new plant with three times the capacity of our current one. We're working on a design for a biodigester, which will use waste material to produce methane which will power a propane generator, burners and boilers. Sol Simple is also partnering with several foundations and international development agencies to attend to needs of the community, such as day care for the dependants of our workers, field experiences for students, and vocational training.
We invite you to come visit to see first hand all of the good things Sol Simple has going on down in Nicaragua. Thanks for your support!
-The Sol Simple Team