At Ben & Jerry’s, we ask a lot of our ice cream. It has to do more than just taste great—it has to do good. Because nothing’s sweeter in the world than fairness.
But what is fair trade, anyway? If you ask us, it’s simple. The hard working farmers we partner with always get a fair price for their products and harvest. In return, they agree to run their farms with care for the environment, an eye for employees' wellbeing, and the heart to give something back to their communities. It’s a beautiful cycle. We love that fair trade helps ensure that the global economy serves people instead of the other way around.
Meet three farming heroes who help make our ice cream delicious—and fair!
Felipe Efrén Hernández González, Carrizal, Huatusco, Veracruz
© Brett Simison
Felipe Efrén is a specialty coffee farmer who’s been growing and harvesting coffee for thirty-five years (that’s almost as long as we’ve been making ice cream!). He’s been a member of the Huatusco Cooperative since 1997. Since he joined the Cooperative, Felipe has benefitted directly from fair trade social programs. Health care can be difficult to come by on the farm, but now he has access! When he suffered vision loss, his plan allowed him to receive ocular surgery that restored his sight. But the benefits of fair trade extend way beyond our farmers. One of Felipe’s sons received a scholarship through a fair trade-funded program that allowed him to keep studying. Education is the best buzz!
Segundo Bautista Cañar Agurto, La Rosita, Ecuador
Denny and his father Luis Gamboa (12 hec, bananas/cocoa; 50 box/week), member of El Guabo,a fair trade banana cooperative from Ecuador. Photo: © Eric St-Pierre
Segundo Cañar became a farmer when he and his six brothers inherited their family's farm. They joined an association of small banana growers in 1999 called Cooperative Agroecológica Guabo. With the profits from his fair trade bananas, he can cover the costs of the farm, housing, food and education for his children. He was also able to raise enough money to build his own house, buy a car, and rent a 2.25-acre farm, which he manages. But that’s not all. His three young sons help him with the farm work and now he can provide jobs to more people in his community. He was recently elected by his fellow producers as manager of the Cooperative Agroecológica Guabo! Fair trade not only helps support families and communities, it also helps build strong leaders.
Kule Zephanus, Western Uganda
Joseph Mbusa, Chairman of the Mubuku Moringa Vanilla Farmers Association, stands in front of a house in his community which was built with extra Fair Trade income. Photo Credit: © Fairtrade Africa
Starting slowly, Kule became a farmer with only 100 vanilla vines on a ¾-acre plot of land. Small beans, right? But within ten years he had acquired 10.5 additional acres and increased his number of vines to more than 1,800. As the size of his farm and his profits grew, he was able to employ two full-time, and five part-time laborers. It’s nice to have a little help from friends. As sales of vanilla increased, he diversified his crops to include cocoa, coffee and bananas. Kule re-invests his farm’s profits into the business. In addition to solar lighting for his house, he’s also supported his brother’s education at a private university in the capital city, Kampala. A double bright idea! With fair trade, business growth and community benefits go hand in hand.