Our sourcing of Frontier Co-op elder leaf and elderberry is a great example of the mutually beneficial partnerships we build with our suppliers through our Well Earth sustainable sourcing program.
Our Well Earth partner in Bulgaria supplies not only our elder products, but a number of herbs other that are all grown on small farms or responsibly wildcrafted. When we last visited them, we traveled the countryside, marveling at the rich diversity of plants — including many herbs that were brought to the United States by early settlers from Europe. These familiar herbs thrive in their native land, growing in dense colonies of color, texture and shapes in fields and wild meadows, along roadsides and at forest edges.
We work closely with our Bulgarian partner and respect their growing expertise. As with other Well Earth partners, our personal, long-term relationship with them has enabled us to improve the quality of our products and increase the availability of organics.
For example, we helped fund their purchase of a color sorter in 2019 to help them meet the increased demand for elderberries. (Frontier Co-op's purchases increased more than 300% from 2017 to 2018.) The addition of the color sorter and the four new employees to run it greatly increased our supplier's production capacity. The sorter has also provided us with better quality product having more consistent and vibrant color in the elderberries.
We're committed to supporting small farmers who share our values of sustainable agriculture and fair business practices — here in Bulgaria and around the world. We provide grants to Well Earth partners for training and improvements in their operations. And, with the guidance of our partners, we fund projects through our Well Earth program to improve life in the communities where our products are grown.