Saturday, January 23, 2010

Time to Start Thinking about Buying Your Sweetheart Fair Trade Flowers

By Alaina Paradise

Valentine’s Day is still a few weeks away, but One World Flowers is swamped with preparation work for the busiest floral holiday of the year.

Valentine’s Day wholesale orders are due on January 26, so the company is busy processing customer requests and communicating with the farms in Ecuador and Colombia.

Sales nearly doubled in 2009
One World Flowers is a Fair Trade Certified™ flower wholesaler. The company was started in 2007 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has seen steady growth in sales over the past two years.

In 2009 sales increased by about 93% from 2008, which was the company’s first full year in business.  (See previous coverage. Valentine's Day and Mother's Day)
What’s even better than the growth in sales is the increased impact that we were able to make for the Fair Trade farms.  Growth in sales means that we are giving more money back to the program to keep it going. That includes money from our purchases as well as a 10% Fair Trade Premium that goes directly into a fund for the farms’ workers.
2009 was not an easy year for Fair Trade Certified™ flower farms and importers. A total of four farms were decertified, and another three were suspended from the program. A farm can be decertified or suspended for violating any of the requirements of the Fair Trade Certification agreement.
Visit Fair Trade Certified Flowers for more information.

The positive side of these developments is that it is clear that floral producers are held to very high standards and are watched closely after the certification process. The negative is that at least two of the farms were voluntarily decertified, which means they might not have been getting the support that they need to make the program financially worthwhile.

Business is business, and if the cost of the program is not being covered by the farm, they unfortunately don’t have a financial incentive to continue following it. Our goal is to grow our business and be a faithful Fair Trade customer to support them in their efforts. When talking about sustainability in business, we can’t neglect financial sustainability at all.

The Fair Trade Certified™ label on flowers is a guarantee of a program that supports environmental protection, economic development, and social justice in the areas of each farm.  Pictured in the photo at the right is Julieta Guerrero of Hoja Verde Flowers in Cayambe, Ecuador 

Many people are unaware of how impactful and comprehensive the Fair Trade label is. Here are just a few examples of how Fair Trade works in all three of these areas:

Environmental Protection
  • Each Fair Trade Farm converts to a system of integrated pest management, which uses non-chemical methods of preventing insect damage to the flowers.
  • Fair Trade Farms often use chamomile extract and cayenne pepper as natural insect repellants.
  • Over 100 agrochemicals and all GMOs are eliminated from use on Fair Trade farms.
Economic Development
  • Employees are paid a living wage for their work and are protected from the common practice of unpaid and forced overtime.
  • A workers’ union is established for each farm to collect a 10% Fair Trade Premium from customers. The workers organize democratically and vote on how to use those funds to improve the communities they live in
  • Workers are provided with year-round work and employee benefits to eliminate seasonal layoffs.
Social Justice
  • Employees are provided with paid maternity leave, proper safety and work equipment, access to an on-site physician, and many other benefits to lift them out of the poverty cycle.
  • The Fair Labeling Organization (FLO), the umbrella organization of Fair Trade Certification, oversees farms to ensure that human rights are being protected for all farm workers.
  • Farm employees are able to report abuses without fear of retribution to a FLO-appointed representative. Farms may be suspended or even decertified from the Fair Trade program until issues are resolved.
Click here or call (505) 489-1117 to place your order  Remember, orders are due by Jan. 26.

The author is proprietor of One World Flowers and a passionate advocate of fair trade.

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