How To Brew: Chemex

METHOD #1: LEVEL GROUND'S FAVOURITE METHOD

Recipe: 5 tbsp (35g) medium grind coffee, 600mL hot water

METHOD:

French Roast Very Dark Coffee
from 17.00
Type:
Size:
Quantity:
Add To Cart
  1. Place filter in Chemex with the 3 layered side towards the spout.
  2. Preheat the Chemex and filter by pouring hot water through them
  3. Pour out water, replace filter & put ground coffee in filter
  4. Place chemex on scale and tare to zero
  5. Start timing, and pour about 80g (mL) of water over the coffee. Gently stir the grounds to make sure they are all saturated
  6. Wait 30 seconds while the bloom de-gases and the grounds soften in the hot water (this is how the flavour comes out!)
  7. Add 200g (mL) of water, gently stir to agitate the grounds
  8. Wait ~45 seconds
  9. Add 200g (mL) of water, gently stir to agitate the grounds
  10. Wait ~45 seconds
  11. Add remaining water, 120g (mL)
  12. When all the water has been poured over, remove the filter and compost. The entire process should take 4-5 minutes
  13. Enjoy with friends!  

METHOD #2: SCAA RECOMMENDATION. 

Recipe: 41g medium grind coffee, 672g (mL) of water

Method:

  1. Place filter in Chemex, make sure the 3 layered side of the filter is towards the spout
  2. Preheat the Chemex and filter by pouring hot water through them
  3. Pour out the water, replace filter & put ground coffee in filter
  4. Place everything on scale and tare to zero
  5. Start timing and pour 80g (mL) of water over the coffee, make sure to saturate all the grounds thoroughly
  6. Allows the bloom to de-gas for 30 seconds before adding more water
  7. Continue to periodically and slowly pour water over the coffee, keep the filter halfway filled with water during the brewing process
  8. General brew times are between 4-5 minutes
  9. When all the water has been poured over the grounds and the filter has begun to drip slowly, remove and discard the filter
  10. Give the Chemex a swirl and share with friends
39682269132_77faf41381_o.jpg

How To Brew: Aeropress

METHOD #1: LEVEL GROUND'S FAVOURITE METHOD

Warning: we use the inverted method. There is no reason to be afraid of it. Let's conquer that fear together! 

Peru Medium Coffee
from 17.00
Type:
Size:
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Recipe: 1 1/2 scoops ground coffee, enough water to fill the aeropress

METHOD:

  1. Put the top chamber inside the bottom chamber, and turn over. (It should look like the photo above.)
  2. Add 1 1/2 aeropress scoops of ground coffee (or 3 tbsp) *it's a really, really good idea to use the funnel to add the coffee. If grinds get into the top, step 6 might get tricky!
  3. Fill with water to just above the #1 and just below the rim.
  4. Wait 30 seconds, then stir.
  5. Fill with water again up to #1. Set timer.
  6. Screw lid (with pre-wet filter in it) to the top chamber. (*We hope you used the funnel in step 2, or this could get awkward.)
  7. When timer reaches 2 minutes, turn over* and press. 

*Turning over is really just like pouring from a regular spout. Turn it confidently, and you will have no problem.  

METHOD #2: SCAA RECOMMENDATION. 

Recipe: 33g fine grind coffee, 113g (mL) of water

METHOD:

  1. Place filter in Aeropress & preheat by pouring hot water through it.
  2. Add coffee to bottom chamber of Aeropress & place on scale; tare scale to zero with cup underneath the Aeropress.
  3. Start timer and add 113g (mL) of water.
  4. When all the water has been added, stir the slurry (coffee & water mixture).
  5. When timer reaches 1 minute, stir slurry, add top chamber and press like mad.

This will produce a concentrated drink that can be enjoyed on its own or can be diluted with equal parts hot water to produce a more American-like beverage. 

24844173637_2ec88376c5_o.jpg

How To Brew: French Press

METHOD #1: LEVEL GROUND'S FAVOURITE METHOD

Recipe: 55g coarse grind coffee, 1L of water

METHOD:

  1. Add ground coffee into press
  2. Add water, just off the boil. Pour water in with lots of turbulence, saturating the grounds
  3. Stir with a non-metalic spoon
  4. Place the lid on, and press just below level
  5. Let stand for 4 minutes
  6. Press. Pour. Enjoy!

 

Check out our video instructional below!

 

 

 

Ethiopia Medium Coffee
from 17.00
Type:
Size:
Quantity:
Add To Cart

METHOD #2: SCAA RECOMMENDATION

Recipe: 40g medium-coarse grind coffee, 672g (mL) of water

Tanzania Dark Coffee
from 17.00
Type:
Size:
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Method:

  1. Preheat your french press with hot water
  2. Place freshly ground coffee in press
  3. Start the timer & begin pouring hot water into the press
  4. Completely saturate the grounds with all the water. Stir.
  5. Place the lid with the plunger up on the press
  6. When the timer is at 2 minutes, remove the lid & stir the coffee again
  7. Using two spoons, skim the oils & remaining floating grounds off the top of the brew. This will produce a cleaner cup & will stop the coffee from extracting
  8. Place the plunger back on top & press down slowly
  9. Decant into your favourite mug.

 

27932032899_dbd4e0360e_o.jpg

Openings! Operations Team Member

Looking to join an energetic, innovative local company that is driven to make a difference in the world?

Level Ground Trading is looking for full-time energetic, positive, solution-orientated team players keen on working in a coffee roastery and packaging facility in Victoria BC (Central Saanich).  Your love for getting a job done right and your experience in working in food processing, warehousing or delivery will make you an ideal candidate.  The tasks within the team vary widely, which will give you the opportunity to gain experience in operating labeling and packaging machinery, handling delicious-smelling, freshly roasted coffee, assembling customer orders, working a nifty box-taping machine and, if you’re the keen type, expanding into the world of coffee roasting and cupping or driving the brilliant green vans to deliver coffee to happy customers. 

Surround yourself with learning opportunities, great benefits, competitive wage, friendly co-workers, delicious fair trade foods, all in a creative, vibrant and collaborative company culture.   

Important attributes we’re looking for include; sound health, strong muscles, enthusiasm, determination, patience, friendliness, energy, adaptability and a desire to work closely with others. A valid class 5 driver’s license, Food Safe certificate and decent work-based computer skills are preferred.   

Level Ground Trading trades fairly and directly with small-scale farmers in 10 countries. We import coffee, tea, dried fruit, cane sugar, vanilla beans, coconut oil, heirloom rice and spices. 

At home in Victoria BC, we send nothing to landfill, pay staff to bike to work, and offer an extended medical and dental plan (at 3 months).

Full-time, permanent, starting immediately, Monday-Friday.

Starting wage to be discussed; training & increases based on compatibility and skills.

Sound like you’d fit in here?  Please introduce yourself by sending a resume to hr@levelground.com  

Huddle
_DSC3627.jpg

Three Easy Mother's Day Gift Ideas

By purchasing Fair Trade gifts this Mother’s Day you partner with farmers in developing countries, offering them fair wages for their work and encouraging them to continue their sustainable production practices. And the icing on top: you both get to enjoy delicious and ethical gifts. Talk about win-win(-win?)! 

Finding the right gift for Mother’s Day can be difficult, so we’ve crafted three great gift bundles which are waiting to be added to your cart and gifted! (Sorry to our American friends south of the border, our retail website is for Canadian shipping only). 

1.Fair Trade Bundle 

Fair Trade Bundle
32.19 52.93
Coffee Grind:
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Perfect for the Mom with many interests, this bundle is a mix of our most popular products. Features our classic Colombia coffee, two of our most popular tea pyramids, and our long-grain rice. 

Colombia Dark - Classic, full-flavoured beans. Our best seller and very first coffee. (Available in bean or ground).

Chai Tea - Organically grown black tea from Assam, India with spices straight from Sri Lanka. 20 tea pyramids.

Tulsi Tea - Organically grown green tea from Assam, India infused with the healing properties of Tulsi (holy basil). 20 tea pyramids.

Long-Grain Rice - Heirloom rice from the Philippines grown on a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ideal for everyday rice dishes. 

Also comes with an upcycled Tote Bag made from reclaimed coffee packages!

 

2. Tea Bundle - Loose Leaf

Tea Bundle - Loose Leaf
13.50 22.00
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Is your mom a loose leaf tea lover? So are we. We curated this selection of our favourite loose leaf teas to develop a delicious tea tasting journey!

Smoked Black Tea - Organically grown black tea from Assam, India. A unique tea, made by small-scale tea grower, Gobin. Learn more about Gobin and his Smoked Tea here. 70g of loose leaf tea. 

Chai Tea - Organically grown black tea from Assam, India with organic spices straight from Sri Lanka. 70g of loose leaf tea. 

Tulsi Green Tea - Organically grown green tea from Assam, India infused with the healing properties of Tulsi (holy basil). 70g of loose leaf tea. 

Also comes with an upcycled Lunch Bag made from Bolivian coffee sacks! 

 

3. Tea Bundle - Pyramids

Tea Bundle - Pyramids
17.97 27.97
Quantity:
Add To Cart

For the minimalist tea sipper, we made this no-stress, no-mess bundle. Featuring some of our most popular teas all stored in neat and easy tea pyramids! 

Tulsi Green Tea - Organically grown green tea from Assam, India infused with the healing properties of Tulsi (holy basil). 20 tea pyramids.

Lemongrass Tea - A herbal tea blended and packaged in Assam, India using organically grown spices from Sri Lanka. 20 tea pyramids.

Earl Grey Tea - Organically grown black tea from Assam, India. 20 tea pyramids. 

Also comes with an upcycled Lunch Bag made from Bolivian coffee sacks! 

Minga - Working Together for Great Pineapples

Dried Pineapple
5.65 6.99
Quantity:
Add To Cart

In the Cauca region of Colombia, four women travel together from one pineapple farm to another. Elfa Nelly, Nolba, Leda, and Yolima do a Minga every day. 

What's a Minga?

A Minga is the idea that when many people work together, everyone benefits. In this case, it's a traditional process where a group of people agree to rotate between each others' farms to work as necessary. In this case, these women have essentially formed an unstoppable group of pineapple farmers!

Many of the 42 members of the Pineapple Association we work with participate in a Minga. Together, they cultivate pineapple and sell it to Fruandes, the Fair Trade Organisation we partner in Colombia. In return, they receive the best price for their pineapple and the whole community benefits. Win-win! 

 Pineapple growing on a farm in Cauca, Colombia.

Pineapple growing on a farm in Cauca, Colombia.

 Elfa Nelly, Nolba, Leda, and Yolima

Elfa Nelly, Nolba, Leda, and Yolima

Meet Albeiro. Golden Berry Farmer.

Meet Albeiro Chamorra. Golden berry farmer and leader of the golden berry farmer association. 

 

Meet Albeiro. Golden Berry Farmer
Dried Golden Berries
5.65 6.99
Quantity:
Add To Cart

Albeiro is a husband, father, and is one of fifteen farmers who grow organic golden berries as a member of Biofruit NAPOLI. 

He is a trained Agronomist from Bogota (the "big city"!). When his father, Hernan, joined the golden berry association, Albeiro moved back to Nariño to join his family. Albeiro, with his University Education, has been a great asset to the community where the average education ends at elementary school. 

He is now the leader of Biofruit NAPOLI, the golden berry association, and advocate for organic production. 

 

 Albiero (centre left) and his father (centre right) along with the women who work on Albiero's farm.

Albiero (centre left) and his father (centre right) along with the women who work on Albiero's farm.

 Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Bolivia Coffee: From Crop to Cup

Imagine this: you wake up, gently stirred by the smell of freshly ground beans. They’ve been scooped into a French press, bathed in hot water, and eventually pressed. The steaming brew has been poured into your favourite ceramic mug, combined with cream (or sugar, if you so please), and slowly brought up to your lips.

Coffee: it’s a morning ritual for many, but how did those beans get from the crop into your cup? The following is the journey from crop to cup for our organic coffee from Bolivia.

 

Meet Pedro.

 
 Hugo (Level Ground), Stacey (Level Ground) with Pedro, Pedro Pablo, and Daniella.

Hugo (Level Ground), Stacey (Level Ground) with Pedro, Pedro Pablo, and Daniella.

 

 

This is where the journey of coffee begins: at origin, with dedicated farmers like Pedro and his family. Together they run Agricafé, which coordinates the crop of small-scale organic farmers in Bolivia. In the middle of the night, farmers line up in taxis to deliver their green beans to Agricafé. It’s a late-night process, but it’s worth it on both ends: farmers get the best price, and Agricafé always gets the best beans. Agricafé works hard to improve capacity and quality for farmers by providing resources and workshops. Because Agricafé works directly with farmers (no middle man), more money goes directly into the farmers’ pockets. Pedro and the Agricafé team combine the green beans from the farmers, and put the beans through rigorous quality testing (such as UV lights and hand sorting). From this they start to prepare the shipment, and send us a sample of what we can expect.

 

 

In comes Josh del Sol, our Roastmaster and Quality Expert.

 
_DSC5824.jpg
 

At home in Victoria, BC, Josh receives a 350g sample of coffee that represents a 40,000lb container! Josh and his team will confirm quality through roasting, and then cupping the sample. Cupping is a coffee tasting where any flaws in the beans are exposed. After cupping, the team will (hopefully) approve the entire container based on the sample received. Once approved, the container is loaded and heads out on the ocean.  

 

 

We receive the coffee, and then our roasters do their magic.

 
40803923242_d088ef9ab9_h.jpg
 

After testing the coffee again, and again, the roasters get to work. Roasting is equal parts art and science. Once roasted, the coffee is packaged by our team and then shipped out. All so you can wake up and enjoy a delicious cup of coffee.

 

Good from crop to cup.

 
Bolivia Medium Coffee
from 17.00
Type:
Size:
Quantity:
Add To Cart
 

New Fruit!

Introducing ... our new fruit lineup! 5 organic dried fruit options, now including banana and dragonfruit!

Launching today are the bright, new, beautiful packages. So what's new?

  • They're all organic. Certified organic golden berry, mango, pineapple, banana, dragon fruit and cacao from Colombia.
  • Two new fruits: banana and dragon fruit on their own for the first time ever! 
  • New farmer faces. Each fruit features a unique farmer face of a member of that growers' association. 
  • Convenient snack size. They're a little bit smaller, to allow you to grab and go with them. The perfect hiking/camping/airplane snack! 

Plus, all of your favourite things have stayed the same:

  • No added sugars, preservatives, or sulphites. Just delicious fruit.
  • Fair Trade fruits grown by small-scale farmers in Colombia.
Level Ground dried fruit packages
Level Ground pineapple package
Level Ground banana package

Meet Orlando.

Meet Orlando, Leader of the Banana farmers association, and king of organic. 

Even without a word of English, Orlando is one of the most hilarious people you will ever meet. His smile and laugh announce his presence everywhere he goes. Quick to make jokes, Orlando draws people near: family, friends, and visitors. But don't let that fool you - Orlando is dead serious about one thing: organic farming.

Orlando creates organic mixtures to solve any problem on his farm. If a plant needs more nitrogen, he's got a blue bin for that. More calcium? There's a bin for that! He shares the mixtures with members of the association, ensuring they all have a healthy harvest.

So how does he make all of these mixtures? It's a science. He takes organic materials from his farm, and neighbouring farms, and combines with precision. One key is using run-off from his neighbour's pigs. They take the organic material that pigs expel, allow it to ferment, and use the nutrient rich material. (Side note: the gas resulting from that process is used to power their homes!) 

Orlando's success has allowed him to spread the impact throughout his family. His brothers, who were stuck working in coca production, called Orlando to ask for help. His response: to take them in without hesitation. Now, all the brothers live together, producing healthy plants that give life. 

 Each blue bin contains a different organic mixture, designed to combat pests and disease.

Each blue bin contains a different organic mixture, designed to combat pests and disease.

 Dave (Level Ground), Orlando, Robyn (Level Ground) and Pacho (Orlando's brother). 

Dave (Level Ground), Orlando, Robyn (Level Ground) and Pacho (Orlando's brother). 

 Orlando and his famous soil!

Orlando and his famous soil!

Meet Simon.

Meet Simon, Leader of the dragon fruit farmers association.

Simon and his wife Nancy live just outside of Pitalito, Colombia. It's a small town, even by Colombian standards. The trek to Simon's farm is incredible, the colours of each building flash by as you ride in the back of his truck. The ride is never made alone - when we travelled in January 2018, Simon's son (Simon Philipé) and labourers joined us for the journey.

As the leader of the dragon fruit farmers association, Simon's role is to bring the five farmers together. He builds capacity, amalgamates orders and takes care of the members. The five members of the association consist of himself, his brother Fernando, and three men who used to be labourers on Simon's land. 

Fair Trade wages have allowed Simon's labourers to purchase land of their own, and join the association. They're even able to hire more labourers to work for them! This means more families are seeing the effects of a stable income. 

Because you choose to purchase this dragon fruit, these families have a stable income and can afford to hire more people to work together on their land. Purchasing thoughtfully allows the financial impacts to continually ripple outwards. 

 

 Simon, the face of Dragon Fruit, with the new package!

Simon, the face of Dragon Fruit, with the new package!

 Esteban, one of the farmers, sees himself of the back of the new package for the first time.

Esteban, one of the farmers, sees himself of the back of the new package for the first time.

 Level Ground's Dave and Robyn visit with the Dragon Fruit farmers in Colombia!

Level Ground's Dave and Robyn visit with the Dragon Fruit farmers in Colombia!

D.R. Congo - A look at 2017

What does Fair Trade look like in the D.R. Congo?

In 2017, Direct Fair Trade Premiums (the extra we pay on each shipment of coffee), went towards capacity building. More specifically, it paid for:

  • 55 new hand picking tables - this provides good working conditions for the women who sort each coffee bean by hand!
  • Training on pruning practices for farmers
  • Over 250,000 coffee trees to be planted
  • Practical tools, like saws for pruning

Interest is growing in this unique coffee. In 2018 we will double the amount of green coffee we buy!  

 Each coffee bean is hand sorted.

Each coffee bean is hand sorted.

D.R. Congo Medium Coffee
from 17.00
Type:
Size:
Quantity:
Add To Cart
 Co-founder, Hugo visits with children of coffee farmers in D.R. Congo.

Co-founder, Hugo visits with children of coffee farmers in D.R. Congo.

Golden Berries - Biofruit NAPOLI

Biofruit Napoli - the organic golden berry farmers association in nariño, colombia.

What's in a name? Biofruit NAPOLI was started in 2007 by six members:

Nancy, Alba, Piedad, Osvina, Leonardo*, & Lilliana.  (*Leonardo was the only Male founder of the association!)

The association has 16 members, 15 of which are farmers. Giraldo Rosero the only non-farmer member operates a nursery for golden berry plant starts. He carefully nourishes the seeds into starts, then farmers come to purchase and plant the starts in their farmers. 

Each member owns a farm. Collectively they hire 81 workers who harvest and sort the leaves. The vast majority of these workers are women, which is a welcomed change in Colombia. All of the members meet on the first Sunday of every month. They gather to share success stories, organic practices, and encourage each other in their work. 

 Hernan Chamorro, member of Biofruit NAPOLI

Hernan Chamorro, member of Biofruit NAPOLI

 The nursery for Golden Berry plant starts. 

The nursery for Golden Berry plant starts. 

 Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Members of the Biofruit NAPOLI association come together every month.

Golden Berry Package

Meet Menaka.

Meet Menaka, a seasonal worker for Ethical Inspirations, our spice partner in Sri Lanka. 

 

Menaka is responsible for leading the others in cleaning, shrink sleeving, labelling and packaging the spice bottles.

She is a woman who was marginalized in the local community. She was born with multiple disabilities. Her mother sent her to school, but as she grew, she struggled to find employment. Her physical limitations restricted her from finding livelihood employment. 

Menaka was born with only seven fingers on both her hands; and only one foot. She has to depend on an artificial foot to move. Her limitations have made her determined to stand up in life as an independent woman. 

Menaka is married to Weerasinghe, a young man plagued by polio. Weerasinghe drives a trishaw that provides an income for the family. Weerasinghe ensures that his wife gets to work on time and picks her up after work. Menaka has the opportunity for dignified work and to make an income for her family.

 Menaka and her husband, Weerasinghe.

Menaka and her husband, Weerasinghe.

 Menaka poses with freshly labelled spices. 

Menaka poses with freshly labelled spices. 

Pineapple - Regrowing Peace through Pineapples

In the Cauca region of Colombia, the Balanta family has worked for years advocating simultaneously for peace and for pineapples. 

It's a region that was known for conflict; it's main crop, coca leaves. Because of the coca production, guerrillas occupied the area, soon followed by the military. This combination led to heavy violence in the area.

Cesar (Nilsen Lucumi), Susanna, and Gustavo (Amaifi Bonilla) Balanta grow pineapple from their farm in Cauca. Even though they have formal education, and hold other jobs in Law and Human Resources, they never left Agriculture. This family has deliberately chosen to stay in Cauca, through conflict and war. They advocate for pineapple production, a welcomed alternative to coca, and are passionate members of the pineapple farmers' association - Asoagronorca (Agriculture Association of Northern Cauca). 

Now, this region cultivates peace. What was previously an area known for drug production and violence is now a community who comes together to produce pineapple and work together. 

 Cesar Balanta in one of the Pineapple farms in Cauca.

Cesar Balanta in one of the Pineapple farms in Cauca.

 The finished product. Our pineapple package features the face of Susanna Balanta. 

The finished product. Our pineapple package features the face of Susanna Balanta. 

We Moved!

It's official, we're in our new home. After 20 years of Fair Trade on Keating X Road (in various locations), we are excited to be in a brand new facility. 

Our roots lay deep on the Saanich Peninsula. We have moved 800 metres up the road to Sean Heights! 

So why the big move? 

  • We're growing! To accommodate our staff and the 45 containers of Fair Trade products we bring in every year
  • Hospitality! We love to host tours. This facility was designed to show you behind the scenes of our operations
 

Our new address is:

1757 Sean Heights

Victoria, BC

V8M 0B3

map3.jpg
 Our front door! Ready to welcome you in Monday - Friday, 9-4. 

Our front door! Ready to welcome you in Monday - Friday, 9-4. 

 A view down our warehouse. The green mural wall is one of our favourite parts of the building!

A view down our warehouse. The green mural wall is one of our favourite parts of the building!

 Home sweet home. Our views of Brentwood Bay. 

Home sweet home. Our views of Brentwood Bay. 

 A welcomed sign in our roasting room: caffeine! 

A welcomed sign in our roasting room: caffeine! 

Meet Maria.

Meet Maria Chari. The face of Peru Coffee.

Maria is a coffee farmer and Matriarch of the Machiguenga First Nation in Pangoa, Peru. 

Like many of the co-op members, Maria produces coffee as a cash crop. She employs biodiversity in her crops to cultivate healthy food.

Maria, her family, and other members of the First Nations group grow organic coffee and cacao. They are members of a long-established co-op with 680 members. The co-op is called 'Co-operativa Agraria Cafetalera Pangoa' (now, that's a mouthful!), or 'CAC Pangoa’ for short.  

The organic coffee we purchase is grown exclusively by the Machiguenga First Nation. 

 Maria seeing her face on a package of Peru coffee for the first time!

Maria seeing her face on a package of Peru coffee for the first time!

 When we visit, members of the Machiguenga First Nation throw a celebration and wear their traditional (and colourful) robes. 

When we visit, members of the Machiguenga First Nation throw a celebration and wear their traditional (and colourful) robes. 

Peru Coffee

 

 

Fair Trade Verification vs. Certification.

This post was written by the Fair Trade Federation. The original post can be found on their website here.

Level Ground is proud to be a verified member of the Fair Trade Federation community, committed to 360° fair trade. fairtradefederation.org


Fair trade verification and certification are often mistakenly used interchangeably in North America. Although they both use the words “fair trade,” these approaches differ. We hope this information is helpful in understanding the diverse practices in the fair trade movement.

 

Verification

Fair trade verification is an evaluation of a wholesale or retail organization. To become verified and a member of the Fair Trade Federation (FTF), the organization must make a full commitment to our nine fair trade principles for all products and practices. They must uphold what we call 360° fair trade, making sure the well-being of the artisans and farmers is at the heart of every business decision. An important part of this commitment is paying at or above a living wage: a reliable wage to the artisans and farmers which can cover all of their needs, including food, shelter, education, and health care for their families. FTF businesses work with farmer and artisan partners that are typically ignored by conventional corporations and struggle to compete in the global market. The Fair Trade Federation is a proud member of the World Fair Trade Organization, an allied membership organization that works to promote holistic fair trade organizations globally.

Though the approaches differ, verification and certification are not mutually exclusive. A number of U.S. and Canadian businesses are both verified by the Fair Trade Federation and have certified products.

To see a list and/or search for verified fair trade companies, visit the FTF search engine.  To learn more about the verification process, see our post on how FTF verifies its member businesses.

Certification

Fair trade certification is offered by organizations such as Fair for Life, Fairtrade International, and Fair Trade USA. Certifiers perform in-person audits of a producer organization or site of an ingredient, product, or product line according to the fair trade standards set by each organization (see their websites above for further information regarding their standards). Important requirements of certification include paying at or above the designated minimum fair trade price, which acts as a safety net when market prices fall, as well as paying an additional fair trade premium. This premium goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use, as they see fit, to improve their social, economic, and environmental conditions.

Fair Trade Verification and Certification

Fruandes Organic Farmers Meeting

Fruandes, our dried fruit and cane sugar partner in Colombia, shared the following with us.


This summer, Fruandes held the sixth organic farmers meeting in Ipiales, Nariño (Colombia). The On this occasion, Fruandes visited and shared some time with each of the members of the Biofruit Napoli association, a group of organic golden berries producers led by Albeiro Chamorro.

The focus of the meeting was 'The Farm as a Set of Good Practices'. Participants exchanged farming practices, in order to co-create and improve processes. 

The agenda had four stages:

1. Good Practices 

The 2-day meeting began with the participation of all association members. Each member shared their best practices and strategies in terms of quality and sourcing.

Together they identified the following good practices:

  1. Loyalty and organizational commitment
  2. Persistence and good project management
  3. Good organizational management
  4. Strategic leadership
  5. Inclusive governance
  6. Good logistics and traceability through effective communications

 

2. The Chagra Route

A Chagra is an Indigenous farming system. It's not only a collective activity wherein farmers and indigenous people produce their own food, but also a learning place where traditional beliefs are connected with organic production and divinity.

We visited the Chagra in the afternoon. The aim of this activity was to observe, and analyze how we can replicate these kinds of farms. Fruandes encourages farmers to grow healthy, nourishing foods for their own households. 

 

3. Visit to the organic golden berry farms

The Fruandes community visited the farms of several Biofruit association members to know more about growing organic golden berries. First, we visited Hernando Chamorro’s farm, where we had a tour of his fields and learned about his composting practices. Next, we went to visit Albeiro Chamorro’s farm, and toured around the farm as he explained the golden berry picking process. Later, we visited Gildardo Rosero´s farm. He is in charge of raising the seedlings of the golden berries for all farmers belonging to the association. Lastly, we visited the farms of Jaime, Enrique and Leonardo López in the José María Hernández village, located in Pupiales. There we learned about other products made from golden berries.

 

4. Gathering and cultural exchanges 

At the community center in the village of José María Hernández, we participated in the last activity of the meeting, much anticipated by participants. We described the organizational structure of Fruandes with two main objectives: 1) To know the roles of each on the Fruandes team; and 2) To replicate this model within each association to improve their organizational structure.

To be faithful and loyal are the keys of success.
— Albeiro Chamorro, Biofruit Napoli Association
Fruandes is a knowledge center!
— Orlando Rodriguez, Banana Farmer
 Germán Betancourt, Organic Development Leader (far left) with organic pineapple farmers from the Cauca region.

Germán Betancourt, Organic Development Leader (far left) with organic pineapple farmers from the Cauca region.

 Fabio Baron, Fruandes Logistics and Service Leader (left), on the farm of Hernan Chamorro, the pioneer of the organic golden berry production in Nariño. 

Fabio Baron, Fruandes Logistics and Service Leader (left), on the farm of Hernan Chamorro, the pioneer of the organic golden berry production in Nariño. 

 A traditional dance from Nariño on the last day of the meeting.

A traditional dance from Nariño on the last day of the meeting.

Hugo in Tanzania: An Update from Tracey Ciro

A farmer update by Tracey Ciro (Co-founder).


Good morning, Level Ground!

Hugo left Victoria on Tuesday.  At some point early Sunday morning, while we were all still sleeping, he finally made it to the coffee growing region of Tanzania.  Long trip!  

I believe, this photo was taken at the Mlolow Coffee Processing Plant in Mbeya, Tanzania.  These are the women who sort our Tanzanian coffee bean by bean by hand.  (Please know, when I visited this plant, I asked about the women working on the floor.  I was shown sorting tables and comfortable-looking (to my eyes) chairs.  All unused.  The women, it was explained to me, prefer to work on the floor! )

There must be some story to the shirt Hugo is wearing.  I do not recognize it.

Hugo is off to visit farmers in Ileje today.  It will be a bumpy 4-wheel drive that is hours long… (and way longer than the driver tells you it will be!).  The road is red clay, if it has been dry, red mud if it has been raining.  There is lush green vegetation on either side of the road, and steep cliffs on, at least, one side of the road.  It is the kind of road you tell your mother about once you are safely back in Canada! ;)

Wishing you all a great day!

Tracey

Hugo in Tanzania