Marie Wallace won an essay contest last year, earning her a spot as one of the participants in a 10 day tour to live and work with small scale coffee farmers in Cusco, Peru.

For more than a decade, LifeSource has supported the family coffee farmers in Cusco through a strong relationship with Equal Exchange.   The farmers with whom Marie will live and work have grown coffee which is sold under the Café Peru label, and the store’s best selling coffee, Equal Exchange Organic French Roast.   Says Marie – “It’s so exciting that I’ll visit those farmers and then be able to give first-hand information to our shoppers.”

Marie will be visiting family farmers who are owner-members of the Agrarian Coffee Cooperative, Ltd. #281, also known by the acronym COCLA.  COCLA is an organization on the cutting edge of the national coffee industry and the cooperative movement, and is becoming stronger socially, economically, and technically.  In achieving social change, COCLA integrates 8000 small scale farming families in the valleys of La Convención and Yanatile.

The trip marks the 10th Anniversary of the first Equal Exchange delegation to visit the farmer members of Peru.  The visit will included a two night homestay with a coffee farming family in Quillabamba, a full day of harvesting and processing coffee, and learning programs on coffee quality, cooperative development, and agriculture.

LifeSource sells fresh coffee only from companies that are exclusively fair trade purchasers.

Equal Exchange, the nation’s leader in fairly traded specialty foods, produces and sells a line of coffees, teas, and chocolates. The company pioneered the fair trade movement in the US, and LifeSource was among its first customers.  All of Equal Exchange’s products are purchased from family farmers under Fair Trade terms. This year, Equal Exchange will purchase an amount of coffee equivalent to the total harvest of 2,500 family farms. Thanks to Fair Trade these farmers receive a higher, more reliable price for their crops and gain critical support for their cooperatives – a key to broad-based, sustainable economic development in their communities. Equal Exchange is also one of the fastest growing worker-owned cooperatives in the country.