Fair Trade Summit

EE Summit Holly

Back in June, Harvest Market’s Communications Coordinator, Holly Tyson, had the opportunity to attend a Fair Trade Summit hosted by Equal Exchange at Wheaton College, just twenty minutes down the road from the Equal Exchange headquarters in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. This 3rd annual gathering of citizen-consumers re-enforced the commitment we make at Harvest Market every single day thanks to YOUR support of fair trade products. Holly provided this report from her experience at the summit.

“We’re Here to Change the World”

I have long lived by the quote from Käthe Kollwitz, “I am in the world to change the world.” Maybe that’s why it feels so good to work at Harvest Market and fulfill my passion for food justice and community outreach. So you can imagine that I was thrilled when Harvest Market’s co-owners Bob and Karen gave me the green light to attend a Fair Trade Food Summit sponsored by Equal Exchange, a member-owned cooperative in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Equal Exchange has always been – by far – one of my most treasured vendors in the store. Much like the work we do at Harvest Market, Equal Exchange doesn’t just “talk the talk”– they walk the walk, every step of their journey. Their fair trade standard is THE gold standard for fair trade, and I encourage you all to take a close look at their rigorous certification standards. I simply adore everything about their Congo Coffee, which goes one step further than its noble organic and fair trade standards by contributing directly to the award-winning Panzi Foundation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with every bag purchased! Their chocolates and teas are also staple items in my home, and I get a rush when I think about the small farmers that receive fair wages and other benefits as a result of my purchases. With the wind at my sails, I booked by round-trip Amtrak train ticket and was on my way to Massachusetts for an uplifting 3 day summit!

Click here to view my entire collection of photos in a Facebook Photo Album.

Wheaton College
I arrived to a warm welcome at the lovely Wheaton College in Norton, MA, where all room and board expenses were paid by Equal Exchange in an effort to make the summit more accessible.


Swag Bag EE
Not only were my comfy dorm room and delicious, healthy meals provided gratis from our friends at EE, they gifted us with the best swag bag ever (!), chock full of their own chocolate, tea, coffee, dried fruit, t-shirt, Klean Kanteen mug, bag and books!


Rob Everts (EE’s Co-Director) and Rink Dickinson (one of EE’s three Founders) greeted everyone in attendance and explained what we could expect from the summit.


Santiago Paz
Santiago Paz is the export manager of Norandino Cooperative located in the Piura region of Peru. Santiago talked about Norandino’s long standing relationship with Equal Exchange, their growth as a cooperative and what it means to be in true partnership. Santiago gave an illuminating keynote speech about the efforts and struggles of his farming community in Peru. He rhetorically asked the group: “We’re here to change the world, aren’t we?!” Heck yeah, we are! 🙂


Holly Wheaton College
It may have been a cloudy day, but I felt like taking a sunshine selfie on the gorgeous green at Wheaton College–but not without my Equal Exchange Mind, Body, Soul coffee in tow! I really do wear my beliefs on my sleeve, as reflected by my Equal Exchange Congo Coffee t-shirt.


This “Tools and Techniques for Activists” workshop discussed the power of effective tabling, tastings, film screenings, and other engaging ways to encourage consumers to promote food justice by choosing fair trade products.


Small Farmers
The easiest way to support authentic Fair Trade is to purchase fairly traded products from small farmers. Your actions as a consumer support or discourage actions by businesses. By supporting Equal Exchange, you join a movement to reclaim the food system – to make it better for farmers, consumers and the earth.


Group EE Summit
Rink and Rob addressed the group several times over the three days, and here they discuss the challenges faced by Equal Exchange, producers, and the planet. Rink warned us about the dangers of green-washing out there, and to be vigorous about sourcing our purchases from truly equitable and ecologically sound companies. Rink and Rob are very down-to-earth and desire engagement from citizen-consumers and farmers. They are the real deal and quite inspiring to watch in action!


Oxfam EE Summit
Equal Exchange unveiled two of their solidarity campaigns: the first shown here was brought to life by Sarah Zoen and Oliver Gottlieb of Oxfam’s Behind the Barcodes campaign, which you can learn more about HERE.


OCM EE Summit
The second solidarity campaign was presented by Joe Maxwell from the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM). Joe presented the Food and Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019, which you can learn more about HERE.


EE Summit Action
We were all encouraged to take action by writing to our legislators about the all-too dominant role of agribusiness and monopolies in the American food landscape. You TOO can take action by clicking HERE!


Spice Talk
We learned about what it takes to develop and sustain relationships with small-scale spice farmers around the world from Ethan Frisch, co-founder of Burlap & Barrel Single Origin Spices (who was later was elected as Equal Exchange’s first-ever citizen-consumer position on the Board of Directors!). It’s simply amazing what it takes to get real food to our tables, but it’s also an incredible opportunity to build meaningful relationships across cultures and time zones.


Coffee Talk
Equal Exchange’s coffee buyer, Kim Coburn, has been all over the world procuring fair trade coffee, and WOW does she know her stuff! She shared her wealth of knowledge, experience and vision for what fair trade relationships look like and require.


EE Voting
Equal Exchange is truly OF the people and FOR the people! A discussion and subsequent vote during the summit added one citizen-consumer to their Board of Directors. The goal is to have a total of three citizen-consumers elected to the Board over time. This photo shows the nomination and electoral process.


EE Dance Party
Equal Exchange knows how to work hard AND party hard! Many people enjoyed dancing to live music and celebrating our change-making community together!


Wheaton Holly
I had the good fortune to walk around campus during some free time. Wheaton College is a lovely place to live, work, study, visit and organize! I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to re-engerize my commitment to food justice and ecological responsibility in our community and around the world.


Inspiring and educational resources from Equal Exchange:

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