Fair Trade Roses flowers that make life better – for everyone

How often do you think about the effect of your purchasing decisions at the grocery store? In your wallet, you have the power to make a difference for workers around the world.

Since 2006, the Co-op has been celebrating Valentine’s Day with beautiful fair trade roses from One World Flowers. Fair trade roses promote social justice and economic development in farming communities with fair pay and environmentally sustainable growing practices.

Luz Sisa, from Mulalo, drops off her daughter Shirley at the company's complementary daycare.

Meet Luz Sisa, 24, from Mulalo, Ecuador. Luz, a mother of two, has been working at Agrocoex harvesting Fair Trade certified roses for One World Flowers since 2010. She states:

We have fun working here and receive so many benefits. My daughter Shirley is in daycare, I receive small credits, computer courses, have my teeth checked, and above all, we are hoping to get a home in the new housing complex. We dream of having a roof over our heads that we know is ours.
Luz's daughter, Shirley Suarez Sisa (right), draws at the company's complementary nursery.

At One World Flowers, 10 percent of sales support a fund for the workers who grow the flowers. Workers organize democratically and vote on how to use the fund to improve living conditions and ease the effects of poverty in their communities.

Elvia Almachi, 32, from Guaytacama, holds a bundle of recently harvested Fair Trade-certified roses.

Elvia has been working at Agrogana, a One World Flowers supplier, for 12 years and is currently a production-line field supervisor. She has been part of the Fair Trade committee in the past and has two daughters, aged 9 and 12. Elvia and her husband Luis Alberto Villegas, also an Agrogana employee, are two of only five employees to participate on the weekend adult school program paid by the Fair Trade premium fund. They are both currently studying an equivalent to high school degrees.

Before I worked in a different local flower company and they exploited us. Even while I was pregnant! Once I came here, I could tell the difference was huge. We would like for everyone in Ecuador who works in the flower industry to have the same great benefits we do here. Please continue to believe in us. There are many of us who need to continue improving our quality of life through the Fair Trade premium fund. It is through these Fair Trade flowers that hundreds of families, like mine, continually improve our lives.
Elvia Almachi (left), 32, from Guaytacama, poses for a portrait in her kitchen along with her daughters Gisela Estefania (9) and Angelica Maria (12). The appliances in the kitchen were paid with part of the Fair Trade premium fund.

By caring for people first, Fair Trade ensures that local environments are protected and local economies are stronger. Although not certified organic, One World Flowers bans harmful agrochemicals and replaces them with integrated pest management, an agricultural system that limits chemical application.

Carmen Pucuji, 41, from San Francisco Mulaloj, pets one of her dogs at home. Carmen, a single mother, has been working at Agrogana for 11 years.

Carmen Pucuji (right), 41, from San Francisco Mulaloj, poses for a photograph at home next to her 14-year old son Kevin Isaac.
I work for my son. he is everything to me. So I am very grateful for the Fair Trade premium fund as it has allowed me to get him a computer, pay for transport, supplies, and tuition to send him to a better school. You know, get ahead in life. The Fair Trade premium fund is a very big help to all the families who receive it. Thank you.
Kevin Isaac Pucuji, 14, displays his academic medals.

Her son, Kevin, is an outstanding student who excels in computer science and English. Due to his achievements, he has received a special Fair Trade-sponsored scholarship to study at a top school in the town of Latacunga where he can receive a higher level of education not available locally.

One World Flowers doesn’t just sell flowers, they want to make a difference in the world. And so does the Co-op. That’s one reason why we are the only store in Bellingham offering fair trade roses. This Valentine’s Day give a gift that makes a difference.

by Tracy Bahr, Downtown Floral Department Head


Photography by James A. Rodriguez. © 2015 Fair Trade USA. Spark by Habiba Sial.

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