Americans will buy more than 198 million stems of roses this Valentine’s Day, the majority of which will travel all the way from Ecuador and Colombia. This year, why not ensure that your long-stemmed symbols of love positively impact the lives of farm workers (many of whom are women) by looking for bouquets bearing the Fair Trade Certified seal?

By making a slight change in this long standing Valentine’s Day tradition, our impact goes way beyond a kind gesture of love and admiration. In fact, choosing Fair Trade Certified flowers might even help to save a life….

Hoja Verde flower farm

Let us introduce Joana Quitiaquez, a 22-year-old single mother and flower worker at the Hoja Verde flower farm in Cayambe, Ecuador. Her story is a true testament to the positive effects of Fair Trade in the region. Born into a sharecropping family with five brothers and sisters and an elderly mother, Joana knows what it means to be impoverished in Ecuador. Her mother, Maria, works on a non-Fair Trade rose farm not far from Hoja Verde. There Maria makes much less money, is often forced to work seven days a week, never receives overtime and has developed asthma from working around greenhouse fumes and pesticides.

For Joana, Fair Trade flowers changed everything. At Hoja Verde, workers not only receive higher wages and overtime pay, they also have access to free eye exams, routine medical screenings and free child care and pediatric assistance. It was through these medical services that Joana’s life was saved. Routine exams and quality care ensured that Joana’s cervical cancer was detected and treated early on in its development. With her newfound health along with a loan from Hoja Verde’s Fair Trade premium, Joana was soon able to buy a small plot of land on which to begin building her own home.

“At the other farm [non-Fair Trade], they wouldn’t have done this for me,” says Joana, “but thankfully, everything turned out okay and I am still here with all of you and I continue to work.”

Fair Trade provided the opportunity for Joana to begin investing in her future, in a house that was all her own.

“We have impact that goes way beyond the dollars and cents we can measure,” says Paul Rice, President & CEO of Fair Trade USA.

Building a home has been a lifelong dream of Joana’s, and the Fair Trade premium has helped her get that much closer. For Joana, roses are so much more than a beautiful Valentine’s Day gift; they are hope for a better tomorrow.

Take action

Support Joana and other flower workers around the world by choosing Fair Trade roses this Valentine’s Day. Now available nationwide, these beautiful, responsibly sourced flowers are now easier to find than ever.