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Co-Founders of Higher Grounds Trading Company to Visit Delaware

Connect 2 Ohio Wesleyan University

Coffee, one of the largest traded products in the world, is that wonderfully satisfying morning beverage for which we reach daily. For the many millions of us in the United State alone, who crave, covet, and become quite crabby when denied that first cup of java as the sun rises, coffee is simply the right way to start the day. But for the many coffee bean farmers in places such as Ethiopia, Nicaragua and Columbia, coffee is more than one of life’s culinary pleasures. Coffee is life itself—a means of survival for these farmers and their families. A hut in which to live. A new roof for that hut. And a wonderful dream of some day building a new school close to their homes for their children to attend.

And yet…for each three-dollar cup of coffee we purchase at a local establishment, the farmer receives but three cents. Three cents. Enter Higher Grounds Trading Company and co-founders Chris and Jody Treter. They will be in Delaware on January 31-February 2, to meet members of the community for “coffee talk,” coffee tasting (or cupping as it is described), and a noon brown- bag lunch discussion (in OWU’s Hamilton-Williams Campus Center Benes room), about their company’s history, mission, and progress, fair trade facts, and their coffee company’s forthcoming spring trip to Chiapas, Mexico.

“We are thrilled that Chris and Jody will be here to tell us about the trip and also let OWU students, faculty, and staff members know about this innovative way to learn about other cultures and issues involving Fair Trade,” says Lynne Cook, member of Global Village’s (37 North Sandusky Street) volunteer management team. “They started their company with just a small amount of money, and immediately began developing relationships with others who were committed to Fair Trade issues.” Those issues, dealing with provision of safe and healthy workplace environments, fair wages, environmental sustainability, supply of financial and technical support, and respect for cultural identity, draw other Fair Trade-minded people together.

“It’s a holistic approach to trade, and the issues of justice, hope, and opportunities of social change through economic development resonate with me,” says Cook, who was one of about 200 people who helped start Global Village in Delaware, 15 years ago.

Co-worker and fellow volunteer Cliff Cook, OWU professor emeritus of economics, is excited about working with Cook and others at Global Village since beginning six months ago.

“We tried to think of ways to enliven the store,” he says. “Lynne handled the painting and store re-design, and I worked on the computer system and operations.” They decided to add more consumables—teas, olive oils, chutneys, jams and jellies, Madegasgar vanilla beans (“to die for, as Cook describes), and, of course, coffees. Those, as well as the store’s jewelry, clothing, sculptures and art work, and everything else, have interesting and compelling stories behind their creation. And just about all the goods in Global Village—95 percent—are Fair Trade certified.

“I hope that some day, there won’t have to be Fair Trade designations,” says Cliff Cook. “But, unfortunately, there always will be pressure to constantly improve the bottom line, and a competitiveness that forces people to cut corners. It’s amazing to think that by buying a bag of coffee, we can help a farmer put a roof on his house.”

For further information about the Treters’ visit, the OWU brown-bag lunch, coffee cuppings, and informal conversation with Chris and Jody at Andrews House, call Global Village at 740-363-6267


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