Fairtrade Fortnight 2022 - How buying Fairtrade helps protect the environment
It’s almost time for Fairtrade Fortnight, which is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the benefits of fairtrade products. As a business that prioritises sourcing local produce whenever possible, most of the stuff you’ll find in our bags doesn’t technically fall under the fair trade umbrella, as “fairtrade” refers to trading with farmers in the global South. Of course, as part of the Better Food Trader network, we do follow fairtrade principles when doing business with our local farmers.
We pay farmers fairly for their crops – out of each pound spent by our Crop Droppers, at least 50% goes to our farmers, which in turn allows them to offer their workers a living wage. By contrast in the profit-driven supermarket system, farmers receive less than 10% of the value of their produce on average. We also source seasonal fruit and veg, which helps provide secure, year-round jobs for workers, rather than short-term seasonal jobs. If you want to know more, you can read about what we’re doing to fix the broken food system and why following fairtrade principles locally matters too.
You probably already know that we regularly source organic, fairtrade bananas for our bags. Bananas are obviously not grown locally, but they are one of the most commonly bought fruits in the UK. Only one in three bananas bought in the UK is fairtrade, so we've made the decision to ensure the bananas you receive from us are always organic and fairly traded. Our bananas are transported by ship and not air freight to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible.
Recently you may have received a surprise in our veg bags: fairly traded Peruvian coffee samples from local business, Techo Verde. This coffee has a wonderful story behind it that we feel is the perfect example of how choosing fairtrade whenever possible can help protect the environment, as well as farmers and their communities.
Crop Drop giveaway
We've teamed up with Techo Verde (run by local Crop Dropper Conrad Feather) to give away 10 free 500g bags of organic, freshly ground coffee to the first 10 people who sign up for a veg bag during Fairtrade Fortnight. Offer valid on any size veg bag from 21.02.22 until 6.03.22. The coffee will be delivered separately by Conrad so please enter your address correctly.
And if you enjoy the coffee, just use code CROPDROP for 20% off your first Techo Verde order.
Read more about why you should choose ethically sourced, organic coffee and how it helps farmers below.
Guillermo Cotrina, coffee farmer at Techo Verde
How does buying Fairtrade help farmers and workers?
Fairtrade is a system of certification that ensures certain conditions are met in the production and supply of certain goods. These conditions include things like fair pay, safe working conditions and workers’ rights.
Buying Fairtrade means:
- A guaranteed minimum price for products, regardless of market conditions. This allows producers to plan ahead, increases food security and allows bigger producers to provide consistent work to their employees throughout the year (as well as pay them more for their work).
- Basic worker protections that aren't always otherwise available in many countries, such as decent working hours, the right to join a union and health and safety standards
- Increasing gender equality and support for women-led businesses
- Money to invest in local projects that benefit producers, workers and their communities, like building local schools
But apart from providing producers with the means to run sustainable businesses in terms of the business itself (i.e. for the business to be financially viable, with the ability to make long-term plans and sustain a community of workers), the so-called Fairtrade Premium also helps create and maintain businesses that are sustainable in terms of environmental impact. This is particularly important when you consider that products like chocolate, coffee and tea are grown and produced in heavily forested areas that are crucial in the fight against climate change.
Fairtrade standards require both smallholders and larger producers to comply with stricter standards when it comes to:
- Energy usage and greenhouse emissions
- Use of chemicals and pesticides
- Protection of soil, water quality and biodiversity
The Fairtrade Foundation promotes training for farmers on things such as switching to organic farming (over 50% of Fairtrade crops are now organic), using environmentally-friendly farming methods and adapting to climate change.
Some farming communities (tea and coffee producers, in particular) use the Fairtrade premium to fund environmental projects such as reforestation and tree planting.
Techo Verde Coffee – Sustainable Coffee Production
Techno Verde is a local business run by Conrad Feather, a long-time Crop Dropper. The coffee sold by Techo Verde is grown in the cloud forests of northern Peru by a small family business.
The beans have been hand-picked and washed by Guillermo Cotrina and his family from their organic farm on the thickly forested slopes of the Chilchos valley. The coffee is grown at an altitude of 1600 metres and is free from all chemicals and pesticides. The plants are shade-grown on 2 hectares of old farmland to ensure that rainforests and biodiversity in the spectacular valley are protected.
While living in Peru, Conrad began to understand the challenges faced by local coffee farmers. The lack of financial security meant that many farmers had to clear large areas of forest for cattle ranching, a practice that has obvious environmental repercussions. While growing coffee was a viable alternative, farmers were hesitant to make the switch because of the labour required and the low price of coffee in local markets.
In 2020 Conrad set up a non-profit to help Guillermo sell his coffee directly to the public. Today, the non-profit guarantees the purchase of Guillermo’s entire coffee crop at 40% more than the market rate for certified organic coffee in the region. This has allowed Guillermo and his family to adopt greener farming practices and has eliminated the need for him to clear any forested areas for cattle ranching in order for him to feed his family.
This is obviously a story that’s close to our heart as Techo Verde is a local business run by a Crop Dropper, but the same beneficial effect can be seen across a whole range of Fairtrade smallholders and producers (you can read more about that here).
The fact of the matter is when you pay local farmers fairly for their crops and take measures to ensure they can run a sustainable business, have food security, plan for the future and pay their workers a living wage, farmers are both willing and able to use green agricultural methods and take steps to protect the soil, biodiversity and local wildlife.
By joining a local organic veg box scheme you’re already helping support local farmers and protect the environment. For anything from further afield, please consider choosing Fairtrade.