Carmen Castro, is passionate about coffee, the planet and people.
The founder of IncaFé Organic Coffee, which she co-owns with husband Joop Verbeek, was one of the hundreds of people who took part in the first Oxfam Trailwalker held in Taranaki two years ago. Because of Covid restrictions a virtual event was held in 2022 but on the 11th and 12th of March 2023, Oxfam Trailwalker returns to Taranaki.
“At first, taking up the challenge to do Oxfam Trailwalker was a personal challenge. I wanted to make my family; my children proud. But I also needed to conquer this for myself, and it felt awesome when my team and I did,” said Carmen.
“For those of you that may be reading this, unsure what Oxfam Trailwalker is, you work in teams of four, choosing to walk either 50km in under 18 hours or 100km in under 36 hours, and your team must have a goal to raise $2,000 per team. This event is incredible and considered New Zealand’s greatest endurance challenge.”
Oxfam Trailwalker takes place on some of the best walkways and trails in and around New Plymouth, as well as iconic Taranaki landscape and attractions including Te Henui, Huatoki, Mangati and Waiwhakaiho rivers, Herekawe Walkway and the famous Coastal Walkway.
Participants will also experience diverse and spectacular scenes including, beaches, bush, farm, cityscapes, Pukekura Park, Tupare Gardens and the stunning Lake Mangamahoe.
With a reverse direction to the 2021 event, participants will get different views at different times of the day to what they experienced before. A few extra special sections have been added along the way to keep things interesting, without adding too many extra hills!
Carmen says that once she signed up for the 2021 event, she learned more about what Oxfam did and ended up becoming a sponsor.
IncaFé will once again be supplying free coffee and hot chocolates at all checkpoints in this year’s event. It will also support the event’s zero waste goal, by rewarding the participants’ fundraising efforts with a reusable 4evercup.
“I learned that Oxfam and IncaFé, in many ways, shared the same kaupapa,” says Carmen, who sources her beans directly from remote plantations in Peru, India and Indonesia. With people and planet at the heart of it, Carmen makes sure to pay above market rates (as market rates are so low in some countries) for quality beans, and IncaFé also developed their own compostable packaging.
“We both strive to make a change for good and help those who were born into less fortunate circumstances. We both want to treat our earth with respect and do our bit to curb climate change.”
Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) is one of the places Oxfam works. Like many of the countries IncaFé sources its beans from, farming is the backbone of Timor-Leste’s economy. It has the potential to reduce poverty, enhance food security, and improve nutrition. Oxfam’s core program in Timor-Leste helps youth, women and persons with disabilities to get involved with local debates to improve their situation. Along with local partners, Oxfam teaches these communities about budgeting, local and new farming practices, and diversifying their crops in a world where climate change is making things harder every year.
“Learning about all this, I wanted to find a way to help beyond fundraising. So, I contacted the OTW team and offered to become a sponsor.”
Carmen also told us about the challenge before the challenge, “Training for such a huge event is no small feat. You must start early – March 2023 isn’t far away! I was fortunate to have a great team. All three had more experience than me, but we had wonderful camaraderie and support. We all have jobs and young children, so we committed to train on our own during the week and to train together on the weekends, following the OTW training guide, which was very helpful. The longest walk took about 8 hours, if I remember well, towards the end of our training.”
In closing, Carmen said, “Finishing the challenge and raising $5,000 for Oxfam was an amazing feeling. My kids and my husband walked the last kilometre with us. We were all so happy. My team and support crew were fantastic. I will love these girls forever.”
Last chance to sign up to 2023’s Oxfam Trailwalker at oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz.