Coffee Fair Promotes Fair Trade Practices
Erika Kolacki

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Last weekend, the Students for Sustainable Communities sponsored the Black Gold coffee fair in the Encore of the Dreyfus University Center.

The fair took its name from the documentary “Black Gold,” which promotes responsible coffee trade and exposes the problems with the sale and production of coffee. Three screenings of the documentary occurred between Feb. 22 and Feb. 23.

“The documentary was the idea base for the entire fair,” said Becky Wadleigh, the Treasurer and Fundraiser Coordinator for the Students for Sustainable Communities.

The fair featured coffee from various businesses like Emy J’s, Main Grain Bakery and Zest, as well as many student organizations that focus on environmental sustainability.

Ashley Vande Voort, the president of the Students for Sustainable Communities, planned the fair for various reasons.

“I wanted to teach people about how coffee is grown and where to buy it sustainably with the fair trade, as well as why you should not be buying regular coffee because it is bad for the people who are on the other end of it and aren’t making a fair price for the coffee they are producing,” Vande Voort said.

Wadleigh said Stevens Point offers great options for coffee lovers.

“There’s fair trade, local, sustainable organic options right here, practically at your front door,” Wadleigh said.

Guy Janssen, owner of Emy J’s, finds it important to buy local.

“We’ve always tried to promote fair trade organic and buying local. That’s huge to us,” Janssen said.

Fair trade was the central topic of the fair, including the presentation given by the founders of Community Coffee John Sheffy and Holly Petrillo.

Community Coffee is a small group that volunteers to help remote villages in Africa and Mexico harvest and sell their coffee crops for a fair price.

Sheffy said that these farmers depend on coffee as their main cash crop in order to pay for the education of their children. However, the sale of coffee offers little revenue for farmers.

The chain of workers associated with the production of coffee causes farmers to gain the lowest amount of profit possible.

“The farmer makes the least amount of money. They were making ten cents a pound for their coffee,” Sheffy said.

Community Coffee volunteers buy coffee at a fair price that allows the farmer to cover all of their mandatory expenses.

Along with their presentation, Petrillo and Sheffy showed a complimentary slideshow of their travel pictures. The pictures showcased the host families they stayed with and the harvest process.

“Coffee comes from a cherry-like fruit that is handpicked, processed to separate the pulp and the seeds, washed, left to dry and then roasted,” Sheffy said.

Besides Community Coffee, Petrillo and Sheffy coordinate a short-term, study abroad program through the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

Petrillo, an associate professor in Forestry, leads the group. Sheffy acts as an Agroforestry Consultant.

The group is going to Kenya from May 27 to June 19 for a trip dedicated to the sustainable resources and community.