Support from Mankato, MN FTT to Farmers in Haiti

Courtney Lang July 2, 2010

This year’s World Fair Trade Day took on new meaning for the organizers of the Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative and for farmers in Haiti recovering from the devastating earthquake in January. For their World Fair Trade Day event, MAFTTI organized five local coffee shops to serve Fair Trade Certified coffee and donated a proportion of that income to the FLO post-earthquake fund for farming cooperatives in Haiti. At the same time, the coffee shops hosted members of MAFTTI who offered specially-made Mother’s Day cards and Fair Trade flowers on receipt of donations for Haiti.  The net sum raised was $750.00.

Embedded in the image on the front of the cards are the words “Let All Trade Be Fair Trade”, the same as on MAFTTI’s Fair-Trade-made-in-Central-America T-shirts. The wording inside was “In your honor a donation has been made to help Fair Trade mango and coffee cooperatives that were damaged by the Haitian earthquake.  Happy Mother’s Day!”

Mother's Day Cards and T-shirts for Haiti relief

Mother's Day Cards and T-shirts for Haiti relief

World Fair Trade Day ended with a local TV news feature on MAFTTI’s efforts and a reporter walking down the aisle of a local supermarket pointing out the TransFair USA logo and channel strippers in the Whole Foods section.

Fair Trade in the Mankato area in southern Minnesota took on new life in May 2009 when the Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative was started. Growing out of a year-old networking process among church groups, MAFTTI hopes to enable Mankato (37,000) and North Mankato (13,000), twin towns on opposite sides of the Minnesota River, to become Fair Trade Towns when the national campaign criteria are met.

Two days before World Fair Trade Day, MAFTTI’s first year ended on a high note with the issuing of a Proclamation of support signed by the Mayor of Mankato, John Brady, and the President of the City Council, Mike Laven.

MAFTTI and the Proclamation: L-R: Mike Laven (Council President), Paul Renshaw, Jane Dow (MAFTTI Co-Chairs), John Brady (Mayor of Mankato)

MAFTTI and the Proclamation: L-R: Mike Laven (Council President), Paul Renshaw, Jane Dow (MAFTTI Co-Chairs), John Brady (Mayor of Mankato)

Paul Renshaw commented, “We’ve made significant progress but there’s a way to go yet.  We hope the Proclamation will strengthen our momentum”.

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Courtney Lang, National Organizer | Fair Trade Campaigns

Courtney Lang brings over 5 years of community organizing to Fair Trade Towns USA, building both the Local Food and Fair Trade networks in Vermont. As Local Food Coordinator with City Market/Onion River Cooperative, Courtney worked with local producers, institutions and consumers to grow the local food system and organize a strategic model for community engagement through farm tours, workshops, and local food challenges. Like many in the Fair Trade industry, Courtney was inspired to take action in Fair Trade when she witnessed child-labor first hand in Costa Rica. As a founding member of Fair Trade Burlington, she has worked with economic development organizations, businesses, and consumers to build awareness of Fair Trade among Vermonters. She also worked with a Fair Trade USA licensee, Vermont Coffee Company, as Friend Ambassador where she united the story of Fair Trade to every purchase of coffee.