Acquiring a Fair Trade certification is no easy task, but it is a powerful move to make to ensure farmers are treated and paid fairly. Fairtrade America highlighted these efforts with the launch of its national campaign in honor of Fair Trade Month in October. The Choose Fairtrade: Choose the World You Want campaign featured murals in three major U.S. cities—Denver, Colorado; Los Angeles, California; and Nashville, Tennessee—that connected stories of the people who produce what we count on every day to the positive impacts of Fairtrade.
“We wanted to spotlight the hard work that went into growing Fairtrade certified products, and we decided on a public art campaign,” Mary Linnell-Simmons, Director of Marketing and External Relations at Fairtrade America, told me. “In essence, we wanted to focus on a few themes: gender equality, fighting poverty, and purchase awareness and intent. We hoped to convey an inspiring message during these times, and the positive response on all three murals has been really uplifting!”
For this campaign, Fairtrade America decided to highlight three different farmers in each mural. As Mary puts it, real people, not stock images, help bring their story a little bit more to life.
One of the murals, Natividad Vallejos Mural by Giovannie “Just” Dixon, located at the East Evans Avenue Kaladi Coffee Roasters in Denver, portrays Natividad Vallejos, who has been a Fairtrade certified coffee farmer for 15 years.
“I decided early on that in order to deliver the quality coffee I wanted with the values that aligned with our business, Fairtrade was the vehicle to meet those needs,” Mark Overly, Founder of Kaladi Coffee Roasters, explained to me. “We specifically wanted to highlight gender equality as an homage to the cooperative in Peru that we’ve been working with since inception. By focusing on gender issues, we are seeing better economic decision-making in these communities.”
Fairtrade is an alternative approach to trade based on partnership—a partnership between those who grow our food and we who distribute and consume it.
In Los Angeles, the Segundo Alejandro Guerrero Mondragón Mural, made by Levi Ponce, is located at the Sunset Boulevard Lassens Natural Foods & Vitamins. This mural is intended to build a bridge between farmers and consumers, highlighting the connection to the workers.
“The mural is a way to shine a light on what a lot of these people and providers have to endure and how we can level the playing field by purchasing Fairtrade products. We stand by this message because everyone along the supply chain benefits from it,” Raymond Martherus, Regional Marketing Director of Lassens, shares with me. “We wanted to provide the necessary information to our shoppers to help them understand that with every Fairtrade purchase, they are benefitting somebody else back down the line.”
For Turnip Truck located on Charlotte Avenue in Nashville, gender equity, strength, and beauty are the focal points of the Rosine Bekoin Mural, created by Tarabella Aversa.
“We have always carried Fairtrade certified products. For nearly 20 years, we have worked daily with independent local farmers and producers like Rosine—many of them self-employed women,” John Dyke, Founder and Owner of Turnip Truck, explains to me. “I grew up surrounded by inspiring women and have worked with talented women my whole career. Turnip Truck stands for the health, equity, and wellness of all people—and this mural communicates that.”
By committing to the Fairtrade process, suppliers ensure farmers and workers receive a sustainable price while strengthening their communities. Fairtrade America’s unique model includes a premium fund that farming cooperatives receive on top of the price of the product.
Co-op members vote to determine how the money is spent, for example, on community programs such as access to education or healthcare. In 2019, the Fairtrade Premium paid more than $208 million to Fairtrade farming communities.
Sustainable sourcing and ethical purchases are becoming more valued amid shopping habits, and I think these demands will continue to grow. Stay tuned as we report how the industry meets these demands.