In Their Words: an Open Letter From Family-Owned Farm Wholesum Harvest

Farm workers share how Fair Trade's Community Development Funds are making a difference in their community
Oct 19, 2017 11:00 AM ET

The Fair Trade Difference

Last month I had the opportunity to interview farm workers at Wholesum Harvest’s Fair Trade Certified™ tomato farm in Amado, Arizona.  I’ve spoken with many farm workers during my three years at Fair Trade USA, but this assignment had me nervous. Wholesum Amado represents a new frontier for Fair Trade. Last year, it became the first farm in the United States to earn Fair Trade certification. That means that, in addition to meeting strict social and environmental standards, workers earn an additional sum of money (called Community Development Funds) from every Fair Trade Certified tomato we purchase to invest in critical community projects. Already, the workers at Wholesum Amado are using this extra income to undertake life-changing initiatives. They deserved to tell their story on their own terms, in their own voices.

The below letter from “First Fair USA,” Wholesum Amado’s democratically-elected Fair Trade Committee, attempts to do just that.

Dear Fair Trade Community,

Greetings from Wholesum Harvest’s tomato farm in Amado, Arizona!  We are thrilled to be a part of the Fair Trade family and to share our story with you.

Since becoming Fair Trade Certified, your purchases have helped send us more than $80,000 in Community Development Funds.  As additional funds roll in, we plan to address some of the most pressing challenges in our community. These include transportation, health insurance fees and home insurance – all identified by the workers through a survey.

Right now we are working on the first project selected by our fellow workers, which is to obtain free health coverage for everyone who is part of our Fair Trade community. Wholesum provides us with health insurance, of which we pay a small portion.  Even this small amount is too much for many of the workers here, so we’ve decided to use our extra funds to offset the cost. This will not only give us the benefit of coverage, but of peace of mind as well.  No longer will we have to worry about money when one of our children has a fever or a parent can’t get out of bed. We can take them to the doctor, secure in the knowledge that our insurance is fully covered. 

Being a part of Fair Trade benefits our community, but it also benefits us personally by allowing us to develop our project management skills.  We are learning how to manage complex projects and work together for the good of our community. Seeing how the workers at our sister farms in Mexico have used Fair Trade to improve their communities motivates us to give it our all.  

We hope that you will continue to choose Fair Trade whenever possible – and not just for us, but the those who will come after us. We want to be the first of many Fair Trade farms in the United States so that farmers and workers everywhere can reap the benefits.  You’ve already empowered us to start realizing our dreams.  Your continued support of Fair Trade will help countless others achieve theirs as well.


“First Fair USA” Fair Trade Committee

Wholesum Harvest

Amado, Arizona, USA