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Norway, Iowa (February 9, 2010) — In the hills of Guatemala, farmer Hilario Caal Chub works his hectare of land, growing organic allspice so he can give his six children what he wants most for them — an education. He can do that because he receives a premium for his crop from Frontier Natural Products Co-op™, which recently certified Hilario’s co-operative as its newest Well Earth® supplier.
Kathy Larson, Frontier’s Vice President of Sustainability, notes the company currently offers 20 products from six countries provided by suppliers certified through the fast-growing Well Earth program. “People can explore www.frontiercoop.com to see a world map of all our Well Earth growers and read more about them and the crops they produce,” suggests Larson.
Already offering the most extensive collection of Fair Trade Certified™ products available, Frontier has taken the concept of ethical sourcing a step further. Like Fair Trade, Frontier’s Well Earth program provides growers in developing countries with a fair price for their products and invests in community economic development projects. However, Well Earth covers a broader range of sustainability criteria and certifies growers in the U.S. and other developed countries as well as those in underdeveloped countries.
Well Earth certification is based on five criteria: 1) worker safety and fair treatment; 2) sustainable production practices; 3) environmental impact; 4) social and community impact; and 5) food safety and quality.
Meet other growers
Hilario joins other farmers that are part of the Well Earth certified network of growers from Guatemala, India, Sri Lanka, Germany, Australia and the state of Washington in the U.S.
Another Guatemalan organic farmer, Lorenzo Ich, of the Santa Maria farmers’ co-op, produces organic cardamom for Frontier and receives a premium based on the quality of the yield. Lorenzo harvests each cardamom plant every two weeks from September to February, being careful not to pick the pods too early, which results in low quality, or too late, because the pods will burst and lose their seeds.
Organic rosemary grower Victor Pascual has been working for decades in harmony with nature in Spain’s Sierra Mariola National Park. “Through our techniques, we help grow with nature, not against it,” Victor says. Although he grows other crops too, Victor feels rosemary, which is indigenous to the region, is his best crop. By using organic agricultural techniques, Victor is able to harvest especially robust flavored rosemary twice a year.
Joseph Devasia and his wife grow a variety of organic crops on their 2.8 hectares of hilly, jungle-like land in India. One of those crops is organic black pepper, which he supplies to Frontier. The couple also grows vegetables to feed the family and collects manure from their livestock to produce biogas fuel for cooking.
Also in India, vanilla producer Sripathi Ramai Hedge has been a farmer all his life, raising betel nuts on less than an acre of land. After watching the slow erosion of the land and the decline of the small farms in the area, he decided to try biodynamic farming. As a result, he now has healthy, lush vanilla vines intertwined with his betel nut trees. Sripathi is teaching his sons about this farming method so they can continue it.
In Sri Lanka, a cooperative made up of 2,000 small-scale, remote farmers supplies Well Earth certified spices. One of them, N.G. Wijethilaka is a father of four who owns just three-quarters of an acre of land. He prides himself on his devotion to organics. He earns about $900 a year and for him, the premium he receives is an opportunity for a better standard of life for his family.
“The commitment of Well Earth growers to organic and other sustainable practices benefits them with a higher price for their crop, contributes to their communities’ development and provides consumers with high-quality, sustainable organic products,” says Larson. “Everyone wins.”
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Frontier Natural Products Co-op™
Founded in 1976 and based in Norway, Iowa, Frontier Natural Products Co-op(TM) offers a full line of natural and organic products under the Frontier, Simply Organic®, Aura Cacia® and Aura Cacia Organics® brands. Products include culinary herbs, spices and baking flavors; bulk herbs and spices; and natural and organic aromatherapy products. Frontier's goal is to provide consumers with the highest-quality organic and natural products while supporting and promoting social and environmental responsibility. For more information, visit Frontier's website at www.frontiercoop.com.