Dole Food Company and Fair Trade USA jointly announced today the inauguration of two new community centers near Dole’s Muelle and Bosque Farms in Costa Rica, made possible by Fair Trade purchases made at Whole Foods Market stores, which drive additional money to pineapple farmworkers to invest in projects of their choosing. The commencement events at the two locations took place on December 5th and 6th, 2017.
To earn Fair Trade certification, farms must adhere to rigorous social, environmental and economic standards. Once certified, farmworkers directly earn additional Community Development Funds with every purchase. They then vote on how to use the money to address their needs. This direct economic benefit is truly what makes Fair Trade unique, and is a process that takes time and dedication to be realized. The farms were Fair Trade Certified™ in the second half of 2012, requiring approximately four years of savings – as decided by the workers themselves – before breaking ground on the new facilities.
“I’ve had the privilege of visiting these Community Centers firsthand, and was moved by the dedication of the workers to this project and the quality of the facilities,” said Ken Redding, Chief Commercial Officer at Fair Trade USA. “Working together they identified a critical need, saved over time, and invested their Fair Trade Funds in a project that will serve the community for decades to come. That’s the Fair Trade Difference at work.”
Unique in the fresh fruit industry, these centers were built to improve the quality of life of employees, and those in surrounding communities of Cutris in San Carlos and Guacimo in Limon, Costa Rica.
“These facilities have become a reality thanks to the Fair Trade USA program,” said Renato Acuna, Dole President of Fresh Fruit Latin America. “This certification acknowledges that we are striving to increase farm worker empowerment, including leadership and organization of farm workers, economic development, and to ensure fair working conditions and environmentally responsible production methods. We are proud to have achieved this standard.”
Whole Foods Market is also a critical piece of the equation. As the main retailer and only national grocer in the U.S. offering these Fair Trade Certified pineapples from Costa Rica, their direct purchases have made the investment possible. These pineapples also meet Whole Foods Market’s Whole Trade Guarantee, which includes a 1% donation to Whole Planet Foundation for every purchase.
“Whole Foods Market is proud of our longstanding partnership with Dole in purchasing Fair Trade Certified, Whole Trade Guaranteed pineapples from Costa Rica,” said Kevin Doty, Senior Produce Coordinator for Whole Foods Market. “The Fair Trade premiums generated from the sales of these pineapples makes a positive impact on the lives of farm workers, their families, and communities. We are honored to be part of this special relationship and look forward to the continued success of programs like this.”
Education is a common need for many farming communities in Latin America. Previously the Fair Trade Committee at Dole’s La Virgen Farm built a community education center in 2013. A total of 344 people have graduated from the program: 150 adults in computer skills, 80 children in English and computer skills, 52 adults in English, 26 women in manicure/pedicure skills, 20 in handicraft classes, 12 in motorcycle repair, and 4 adults learned to read and write through an alphabetization program. Currently, there are an additional 263 people participating in several courses, including a high school program for adults, English, computer skills (Word/Excel), handicrafts (sewing, ceramics), and manicure/pedicure. 18 children are taking English and computer classes.
In addition to classrooms and computer rooms, the organic pineapple farm at La Virgen boasts a sporting facility, also built thanks to Fair Trade purchases. These facilities have been a powerful addition to community life.
A similar sports structure is projected to be built at centers supporting the Muelle and Bosque farm communities in the future.
About Dole Food Company
Dole Food Company, Inc., is one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of high-quality fresh fruit and fresh vegetables. Dole is an industry leader in many of the products it sells, as well as in nutrition education and research. For more information, please visit www.dole.com.
About Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization that promotes sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers; protects fragile ecosystems; and builds strong, transparent supply chains through independent, third-party certification. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ label signifies that rigorous standards have been met in the production, trade, and promotion of Fair Trade products from over 80 countries across the globe. Recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation, and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also provides critical capacity-building programs at origin, and educates consumers about the power of their purchase. Visit www.FairTradeCertified.org for more information.