Fair Trade on the Road with Maria Isabel Balbuena, Dominican Republic

Courtney Lang October 14, 2011
Follow the travels of Maria as she hits the road with Billy Linstead Goldsmith, Fair Trade Towns National Coordinator, to see how conscious consumers like you are spreading the word about Fair Trade in the US.

Did you know that Women perform 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food, but earn 10% of the income and own 1% of the property?  It is a stuttering fact, but Maria Isabel Balbeuna is an extraordinary Fair Trade coffee farmer and cooperative leader who is bringing a prevailing shift in the Dominican Republic through women’s empowerment.

As many have experienced, hearing fair trade from the source inspires us to make a commitment to Fair Trade purchasing, but you may not realize that it is equally as moving for producers like Maria to be given the chance to see first-hand how people are making Fair Trade the norm in their communities and on campuses. That’s why Fair Trade Towns and Fair Trade Universities is thrilled to be leading a week long producer tour of the northeast where Maria will visit campaigns to share her story, and to talk about the realities of life as a Fair Trade producer.

Catch us On the Road:

Follow Maria on the Fair Trade Towns blog as she travels, or meet her at:

Saturday, October 15: 

9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Fair Trade Symposium – MIT Campus in Cambridge, MA

Sunday, October 16:

12:30 – 2:00 p.m. “Chocolate Country” Showing – Hampshire College in Amherst, MA

3:00 – 4:30 p.m. “An Afternoon with Maria” – The Yellow Sofa in Northampton, MA

Tuesday, October 18:

7:00 – 8:00 p.m. “An Evening with Maria” – Loving Café in Delmar, NY

Wednesday, October 19:

4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Siena College in Londonville, NY

Thursday, October 20:

4:00 – 5:00 p.m.  Peace & Justice Center in Burlington, VT

Friday, October 21:

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Keene State College. NH

Saturday, October 22

12:00 – 2:00 p.m. Rockin’ K Café in Bridgewater MA

If you have questions regarding details of these events, please contact Fair Trade Towns National Coordinator, Billy Linstead Goldsmith at wgoldsmith@fairtradeusa.org.

Maria & Her Work in the Dominican Republic:

Maria works for FEDECARES, a Fair Trade cooperative of 7,500 members that provides social and business services to support sustainable development for coffee families. FEDECARES was one of the first organizations to become Fair Trade certified in 1991 and continues to thrive with Fair Trade coffee benefits, improving income of producers and caring for the natural resources of the Dominican Republic. The welfare of small farmers in the Dominican Republic has improved, and María is grateful for the efforts of Fair Trade as it continues to benefit producers in coffee producing nations. María Ysabel’s passion has always been to support mothers and children – as a single mother herself she understands the struggles that women with limited resources face. Her life’s mission is to empower women, and today María proudly works on building her own organization called the Association of Dominican Women in Coffee. She is also the country director for the organization Café Femenino, a social program to empower women coffee producers in rural communities around the world. In the Dominican Republic, the Café Feminino program also fights child hunger and organizes women who own land.

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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.