GROW TOGETHER FUND
Building a supply chain is really hard. It’s even more difficult, if instead of profits, your mission is to build a DIFFERENT kind of supply chain, one that tries to:
- Pay farmers the highest possible price.
- Work directly with farmer co-ops to help them find a caring market.
- Preserve fragile ecosystems around the world.
- Support farmer co-op development projects that go beyond business-as-usual.
But that’s our mission. And being able to bridge the gap between innovative farmers in remote places and shoppers who are looking for fair, sustainable food options makes it all worth it.
And now, with the creation of the Grow Together Fund, Equal Exchange and food co-ops across the country have united with small farmer co-ops to create and strengthen this alternative, caring supply chain that puts people before profits.
Together we are strengthening this co-op supply chain:
With your purchase of Equal Exchange Cashews at participating stores, Equal Exchange and the store will each donate to the Grow Together Fund to support a tree planting project at APRAINORES Co-op, creating higher yields and a more stable income.
Our first Grow Together Fund project supports APRAINORES, an inspiring co-op of cashew farmers in El Salvador. In early 2014, Equal Exchange provided the first round of funding, which the farmers used to:
- build a nursery for cashew seedlings
- install an irrigation system
- hire an extension worker to manage it
The farmers chose seeds from their best trees and planted them in the nursery. A few months later they then grafted the seedlings with shoots from their strongest cashew trees. With luck, the trees will begin producing in three to four years.
12/17/2014: In 2014, we were able to raise $22,000 from food cooperatives which are being used to create a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), administered by a 3-person committee of Aprainores board members. The idea of the RLF is to make small short-term loans to producer members (up to 60% of the total amount they made from last year's cashew harvest) that they will then repay in May 2015 after they turn in next year's harvest. Read more >
Pictured: Oscar Valladares, a member of the APRAINORES Oversight Committee and Revolving Loan Fund Committee, with his daughter. Photo taken by Eric Bowman.
The new nursery with 7,000 cashew seedlings was created in March 2014 with support from the Grow Together Fund.
Shoots from healthy cashew trees were grafted onto seedlings in August 2014. Trees should be fully productive in 3 to 4 years.
Check out this "How Cashews Are Grown" video made by our friends at Weaver Street Market!
- "A new day for El Salvador cashew co-op, thanks to cooperation among cooperatives", NCBA media
- "What's new in the bulk aisle?" Eastside Food Co-op, p. 4
- Berkshire Eagle recap
- "Go Nuts!", Small Farmers Big Change blog
- "Achieving Success, One Cashew at a Time", Berkshire Co-op Market Newsletter
- "Seward Cooperates with Cashew Co-op", Seward Co-op Website