Saturday, February 14, 2009

I (heart) Fair Trade Flowers

How are you celebrating heart day? Perhaps your sweetheart would appreciate a box of chocolates and a dozen roses. But stop and consider this: Valentine's Day also provides you a great opportunity to put the concept of fair trade into practice. When you make your purchase decision, make sure that the product has fair trade certification. This primarily ensures that the grower of the cocoa, sugar and flowers were paid a fair price for their products.

So instead of buying the commercial brand of boxed chocolates, you might consider purchasing the special products offered on this day by these popular providers of fair trade chocolate Divine, Equal Exchange or SERRV.

What about flowers? Most of us are already aware about fairly traded chocolates, coffee and tea. But fair-trade flowers are not as widely known. Fair-trade flowers have only been available in the U.S. since August 2007, due primarily to the efforts of TransFair USA.

For flower farmers, fair trade certification means more than just a fair wage. It requires that farms provide employee benefits including 12 weeks maternity leave and child care. Read more about the growers.

But the wages are important too. Did you know that for every fair-trade flower sold by the Hoja Verde flower farm in Ecuador, the cooperative is able send one more child to school? Most fair-trade flowers come from three countries: Ecuador, Colombia and Kenya. See list of producers

One World Flowers: A Local Connection

Where can you buy Fair Trade flowers? In Albuquerque and Santa Fe, you can buy them at La Montañita Cooperative. Or you can buy them directly from the local fair-trade business that supplies the flowers to the natural grocer, One World Flowers. Here is a partial list of online retailers and supermarket chains nationwide that offer the flowers.

Alaina Paradise, who launched the business in March 2008, said the concept is catching on very quickly.

This is the first Valentine's Day for her business. And it has been extremely busy. The first thing you see when you log on to the company website is: Happy Valentine's Day to all of our wonderful and loyal customers! One World Flowers is unable to accept any more orders for Valentine's Day through our website because we have sold out of all of our inventory.
One World Flowers believes in supporting sustainable business practices, human rights compliance, and fair compensation for workers in countries all over the world.

"Valentine's Day has been absolutely outstanding for business," said Ms. Paradise, a graduate of the University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Business.

Ms. Paradise, who is a licensee of TransFair, offers a wide variety of bouquets and other products to her customers.

"We're excited because this holiday is making such an impact on the farms," said Ms. Pardise, who obtains her flowers almost exclusively from suppliers in Ecuador. "When the farms are doing well, they're able to employ more people and sustain the fair-trade business model.

So as you consider what to give your sweetheart this Valentine's day, also keep in mind the countless workers who labored growing the products that the two of you will enjoy together on this special day.

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