A life changing trip to Chiapas, Mexico to learn about Fair Trade and a heartfelt response to the invitation to tell the story of how hard these small scale farmers work and their desire to be paid enough to buy medicine when their children are sick and to send their children to school had an impact on growing the Fair Trade movement in Fond du Lac.
Through the generosity of First Presbyterian Church giving space and numerous other support, Just Fare Market incorporated as a non-stock corporation in April 2007; in spite of limited space and open hours, the Market thrived and became the leader for Fair Trade in Fond du Lac. Volunteers put in countless hours, not only in the store, but in “taking the show on the road” to various community events. This was invaluable in building community awareness and support of the Fair Trade movement.
In September 2011, Just Fare Market moved to a new site, part of Pioneer Plaza at Peebles on the north end of Fond du Lac. The new location gave credibility to the store as it became recognized as part of the business community. Just Fare was also accepted as a member of the Fair Trade Federation. The Just Fare Market Board of Directors gave full support to seeking designation of a Fair Trade Town.
In early 2012, a steering committee formed to set goals and a time line. Thanks to the energy and insight of the committee members and Fair Trade supporters, Fond du Lac achieved their goals ahead of schedule and received designation as a Fair Trade Town on January 30, 2013.
Finding volunteers who have the time to match their interest can be a challenge. The steering committee was small, but thanks to ongoing recruiting efforts, the committee continues to grow. Tapping into the expertise of the Fair Trade Education Committee, presentations are made to schools, service clubs, businesses, and governmental bodies. Important community awareness of Fair Trade and the Fair Trade Towns Initiative is building, bringing more businesses and organizations into the Fair Trade fold.
Working on the Steering Committee from First Presbyterian Church have been Jim Hubbard, Roger Rigterink and Carol Smith. Others on the committee have been Ellen Swan, Anne Lemke, Diana Beck, Tom Fridel, Kathy Strong-Twohig, and Emma Bruden. Steering committee members make personal visits to Fair Trade businesses and organizations to present the Fair Trade window sticker for display. During the visit, Fair Trade representatives offer information on the Fair Trade movement, highlight how working together can expand a business, and offers a presentation to employees of the business to increase their knowledge of and commitment to the Fair Trade movement. On Thursday, May 9 at 9:00 a.m. during International Fair Trade Week, City officials, Fair Trade businesses and organizations, and Fair Trade supporters will celebrate the Fair Trade Town Fond du Lac designation with a ribbon cutting on the steps of City Hall.
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, with a population of 44,000, is the 32nd city in the U. S. to be named a Fair Trade Town, and the 3rd in Wisconsin. Check out our website at http://fonddulacfairtradetown.wordpress.com