Bangladesh Artisans

album12Back in early January, our social media and marketing team gathered together to make a call to Level Ground Trading, our fair trade coffee partner.

Located in Victoria, B.C., the company’s slogan is, “We shake the hands that pick the coffee,” but in reality, the organization does much more. Not only does it invest in communities in South America and Africa, coffee roasting guru and master taster, Josh Del Sol, creates tasty blends and roasts beans.

We wanted to pick his brain and find out all we could about the coffee we sell. It turns out there was plenty to learn. For example…

spin_rice_thumb“It’s virtually impossible to grasp … the challenges these people surmount to get a rice crop planted, harvested, and brought to market,” says Stacey Toews, Co-Founder & Communications Catalyst at Level Ground Trading, one of Ten Thousand Villages’ long-term partners.

UNESCO declared the Philippine Rice Terraces a World Heritage Site in 1995 within the “living cultural landscape” category. People of the Ifugao ethnic group have occupied and grown rice on these terraces for more than 2,000 years.

Ryan CoffeeI don’t know about you, but my morning routine starts and ends with coffee! I probably don’t qualify as a connoisseur, but I know a good cup of coffee when I taste it – and I’ve long been a big fan of the coffee I get at Ten Thousand Villages.

Ten Thousand Villages has a strong history with Level Ground Trading, which supplies our coffee. This partnership began even before Level Ground Trading’s inception: Hugo Ciro, co-founder and CEO of Level Ground, was introduced to Fair Trade when he volunteered at the SelfHelp Crafts (now Ten Thousand Villages) warehouse in Abbotsford many years ago.

cakeI’m the assistant manager at Ten Thousand Villages on Henderson Highway in Winnipeg. I believe Fair Trade is important, and I want to share a recipe with you that incorporates some delicious Fair Trade ingredients we sell at our store!

A “flourless chocolate torte” sounds like it would be hard to make – but trust me, it’s actually quite easy.

Shortly after my husband and I were married two years ago, we decided to have some friends over to our apartment for a get-together. Being the new bride that I was, I wanted to impress my friends and family with a glorious dessert.

I had recently tried an amazing flourless chocolate torte at a local restaurant here in Winnipeg and absolutely fell in love with it. So I googled the recipe to see if I could find it. Sure enough, I discovered a recipe that looked quite similar. After tweaking it a bit to make it more Fair Trade-friendly, I came up with the perfect recipe! It was a hit among my friends, and it’s been a favorite in my family ever since! It’s gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly, and it uses some great Fair Trade products you can pick up at your local Ten Thousand Villages store. I hope you’ll give it a try. I promise… you’ll love it!

79 - PhilippinesWe periodically receive questions from customers such as:

  • Why does Ten Thousand Villages buy products from the specific groups you work with?
  • Why do you import from those particular countries and regions?
  • Are you open to adding new groups from new countries?

Ten Thousand Villages’ mission is to create “opportunities for artisans in developing countries to earn income by bringing their products and stories to our markets through long-term, fair trading relationships.” This drives everything we do, and we will not compromise our commitment to our Fair Trade principles.

strutting-bird-tinFair Trade retailers like Ten Thousand Villages carry hundreds of pieces of beautiful work made by artisans from all over the world. Our mission is to bring these works of art to markets artisans wouldn’t otherwise have access to, while facilitating opportunities for disadvantaged people around the world to make a living doing dignified work.

When many people think about Fair Trade products, they often automatically assume they’ll be expensive, and that they’ll have to pay a premium to buy ethically. This simply isn’t true, though. Fair Trade retailers stock a wide variety of products that are inexpensive, while still beautiful and high quality.

Clara's cake with ingredientsFor Colombian native Clara Salamanca, baking a “Hummingbird Cake” is truly a labour of love.

The tropical ingredients – dried pineapple, shredded coconut, sugar and bananas – remind her of home. And many of the dry ingredients can be purchased at the Granville Island Ten Thousand Villages store where she volunteers every Saturday afternoon.

Equally as important, the recipe is based on one she found in an Australian magazine she purchased while visiting her daughter Gabriela, who lives “down under.” This yummy dessert is therefore a beautiful reminder of a daughter she wishes she could see more frequently.

SteveAt Ten Thousand Villages, we recognize that our success is driven by the amazing staff and volunteers who work hard every day to keep the wheels turning.

One of our fine staff members is Steve Dorion. Steve has been with us for about three years – first on a temporary contract, and now permanently as Materials Handling Coordinator at our 58,000-square-foot distribution centre in New Hamburg, Ontario.

Steve wears many hats. But his primary responsibility is to ensure products are stored and organized well in our warehouse, and are easily accessible when it’s time for them to be picked for shipment to stores, festival sales and e-commerce customers.

Level Ground Tea GardenMany people are unaware that a commitment to sustainability is built right into the World Fair Trade Organization’s 10 Principles of Fair Trade.

Principle #10, “Respect for the Environment,” includes the following thoughts:

Organizations which produce Fair Trade products maximize the use of raw materials from sustainably managed sources in their ranges, buying locally when possible. They use production technologies that seek to reduce energy consumption and where possible use renewable energy technologies that minimize greenhouse gas emissions. They seek to minimize the impact of their waste stream on the environment. Fair Trade agricultural commodity producers minimize their environmental impacts, by using organic or low pesticide use production methods wherever possible.