A grant made to TransFair USA has local fair trade advocates hoping their movement will be picking up steam in other communities.
Anna McMahon of Fair Trade Delmar said her group is well into the process of having Bethlehem declared an official Fair Trade Town, and she hopes a $925,000 grant from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Foundation to the national fair trade certifier will trickle down to raise awareness of the movement.
I hope it'll mean the ability to publicize what we're doing and to encourage other towns to set up their own Fair Trade Town groups, she said.
According to McMahon, Delmar is one of only 30 communities nationwide with an active FTT movement, though national organizers have hopes of accrediting hundreds of towns by 2013. Only 13 municipalities are accredited as Fair Trade Towns nationwide.
The Village of Ballston Spa completed the process to become the first Fair Trade Town in the state in December 2008. Fair Trade Delmar will meet with other fair trade advocates there for a conference April 24.
Additionally, Fair Trade Delmar will be holding a fair trade chocolate event on May 2 at the Delmar Reformed Church.
Fair trade products cut out middlemen in order to return more of a profit to the producers, who are usually indigenous third-world peoples and often living in extreme poverty. Items are always handmade using traditional methods and materials, and fair trade foods and coffees are produced through non-industrial means.
TransFair USA lends certification to these products so consumers can more easily find and purchase fair trade goods.
To be designated a Fair Trade Town, municipalities must meet several criteria. A steering committee must lead the efforts, fair trade items must be available in proportion to the citizenry, fair trade items must be used by a number of local organizations, the media must take notice and the town's governing body must pass a resolution supporting fair trade and the local campaign.
Once a resolution is passed, Bethlehem should meet all those criteria, said McMahon, a goal Fair Trade Delmar is hoping to meet in coming weeks.
"I've been discussing things with the supervisor, and I need to get back and have another meeting with him," McMahon said. "We'd very much like to have this done by May 8, which is World Fair Trade Day."