A few years ago a group of Nicaraguans decided that when life gave them fruit they would make wine. They also make juices and jams. In 1986 an informal organization of workers began to gather forgotten fruit from farms near the bustling capitol of Managua. They sold that produce in local markets and reinvested profits into the organization. In 2011 the association formalized as Cooperativa Chinantlan.

Produce venders around the world talk of hardships incurred trying to sell goods with such limited shelf-life. So, to combat the drain on profits that heat and time impose, the cooperative, has dedicated itself to processing fruit—turning the apples and mangos into longer lasting products. Employees can crank out 15,000 liters of juice, wine and preserves each year.

Unifying workers from the country and the city, Cooperativa Chinantlan now gathers and transports not just windfall produce, but all the fruit from several farms and orchards. Employees in the town of Tejana process the crop. Respecting both the people of their community and the land that bares fruit, the cooperative exclusively relies on local products. They also recollect and reuse all bio-products. This community commitment is paying off. Walmart recently bestowed an excellence award on the group.

Beyond focus on environment and local product, Cooperativa Chinantlan engages with the community’s economic development by ensuring that women make up the majority of employees and members. As the coop grows in success, they have voted to invest some profits not just in the company’s infrastructure, but in the lives of people in the community, contributing to the construction of a preschool and other projects.

Cooperativa Chinantlan takes its name from a near-by city. While they are learning more and more about processing methods and sales, some things that do not need to change. In Nahuatllt Chinantlan means “arbor that will grow.” Like the wine they distill, Coooperativa Chinantlan is doing well now and expects to improve with time.