Level Ground purchases dried fruit from Fruandes, a Fair Trade organization operating out of Bogotá, Colombia. Fruandes purchases fresh fruit from independent farmers or associations of small-scale farmers.
What began as a desire to address the hard-hit coffee community transformed into a dual mission to protect the marginalized women struggling to survive in Cazuca.
Background of Organization
In 2002, Level Ground sought to respond to the commodity crash that saw the market value of coffee beans reduced to nearly nothing. Our original intent was to support small-scale rural farmers - if farmers were going to survive, they needed to diversify. Fruit, a natural by-product of Colombia’s rich tropical climate, was coffee’s most practical partner. Small-scale coffee farming at high altitudes in rich soil lands like the Andes offered natural shade through high-growing fruit trees. Out of this recognition, Fruandes dried fruit was born.
Giovanni Porras, the director of Fruandes, rented a small space in a low income area, and, by 2002, installed a dehydrator that provided work for six marginalized women struggling to survive in the Cazuca refugee community. Today, there are up to 45 women employed by Fruandes during peak fruit processing periods and we receive around four containers of their dried fruit and sugar a year.
Type of Organization
Independent farmers or associations of small-scale farmers
Pineapple is sourced from the edge of the jungles of Casanare near the Venezuelan border, while mango emerges near the Magdalena River Valley. At the very southern tip of Colombia close to the border of Ecuador in the rural town of Ipiales is the ‘ochouva’ or, the golden berry. Coconut and banana are purchased from Colombia’s coastal regions.
Mango, Coconut, Pineapple, Banana and Golden Berry
Organic Certified by BCS Öko-Garantie
Direct Fair Trade Impact
Fruandes provides its workers with a sustainable wage, vocational training, health care, and education for their children. Three of the original members of Fruandes remain with the organization and have received microcredit loans that allowed for the down payment on a home outside the refugee life of Cazuca.
Fruandes in Bogotá, Colombia employs women many who are heads of households and single mothers. They come from all corners of Colombia--Chocó, Antioquia, Nariño, Boyaca. They come to find jobs and better, safer living conditions. Through Mencoldes a Colombian NGO that works in Cazuca, a refuge settlement near Bogotá, Fruandes finds employment for many women who would otherwise be unemployed. Many women have been able to leave Cazuca and find better housing closer to Fruandes. Fruandes currently employs 29 people in production and administration.
The story of Luz is the story of many Colombians. She is an internal refugee who fled from her native costal town of Tumaco to the capital city of Bogotá. Luz is a single mother and has six grown children, although only the two youngest live with her. She must begin her day at 4am because it takes her almost two hours to get to Fruandes. She is thankful for the work she has at Fruandes and is pleased to work among people who care for each other.
Tatiana has been working at Fruandes since 2008. She started in production and now works in the office as the administrative assistant. She is married and is expecting a baby in April 2013. Tatiana’s mother raised her and her siblings thanks to a job at Fruandes in the early days of the company.