In 2015 we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the founding of Fair Trade San Diego.  Organization began in earnest in November 2005.  Prior to that time, students at UCSD, under the leadership of Viraf Sorousian and others involved with the club One Earth One Justice, had been talking with others in San Diego about Fair Trade.  Lee Van Ham of Jubilee Economics Ministries, Jamie Gates from Point Loma Nazarene University, representatives of the Environmental Health Coalition were in conversation with the University as well.

Carolyn Lief, a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, returned from a life-changing trip to visit coffee farms in Nicaragua sponsored by TransfairUSA, and felt inspired to increase Fair Trade awareness in San Diego.  She, Lee Van Ham, the One Earth One Justice students and a few others met and decided to call our effort “San Diego Friends of Fair Trade”.  Very soon, Café Moto offered its support, and Rigo Hernandez from Café Moto joined our ranks.

UCSD professors April Linton and Mary Blair-Loy supported the students’ work.  Catholic Relief Services, which has a Fair Trade component, became involved when their representative, Dawn Stary, joined the group.  CASA at USD also participated.  OB People’s Co-op has provided meeting space and Fair Trade bananas for events.  Christ Lutheran Church offered support when Cyndi Rolleson became a member, as well as Open Door Books located on the Christ Lutheran campus with Mary Alice Mueller, owner.  The Catholic Diocese of San Diego and Kent Peters of its Office of Social Ministry have provided financial and personal support over many years featuring interviews on their radio programs.  Café Virtuoso has been helpful in many ways.

In May of 2008 San Diego Friends of Fair Trade held it’s first World Fair Trade Day event at Café Moto on National Ave., under the sponsorship of their owner, Torrey Lee.  Rebecca Berggren, who owned a small Fair Trade business in Ocean Beach, was our publicity and tech person.  Several new people became involved following this event, especially Deanna Gullo, Maria Arroyo, Evangely Aliangan, Anne Pacheco and Nancy Ryan of St. Martin of Tours Church in La Mesa.

As the UCSD students graduated and moved on, Carolyn Lief assumed leadership, followed by Dawn Stary, and most recently the duo from St. Martin’s Church, Anne and Nancy.

Fair Trade San Diego sent Deanna Gullo and Dawn Stary to Boston for the Fair Trade Conference in 2010.  Fair Trade Towns invited us to hold a workshop with them on social media in LA because we were doing such a good job with social media at the time.  Some of our most interesting programs have featured farmers from South America and artisans from India so we could learn first hand, the benefits of Fair Trade.

Since 2008 we have held several successful World Fair Trade Day events, made presentations to university classes and church groups, tabled at community events in San Diego and La Mesa.  We publish a list of shops and on-line sources for purchasing Fair Trade products which may be found on our web page at fairtradesd.blogspot/.

There have been several exciting and important milestones in our 10-year history.  UCSD became a Fair Trade University, La Mesa became a Fair Trade Town thanks to the tireless efforts of Anne and Nancy who also spearheaded the effort for St. Martin of Tours to be the first San Diego-area church to be a Fair Trade Congregation.  USD and Pt. Loma Nazarene became Fair Trade Universities, and Unity Church of San Diego and St. Paul’s Cathedral became Fair Trade Congregations.  San Diego State University is in process.

San Diego is also the home of Around the World Gifts in Old Town, Fair Trade Décor in Del Mar, Dr. Bronner’s in Vista, and Partners Fair Trade Boutique at the Unity Center of SD.  Seasonal kiosks with All Across Africa products are at Westfield malls and Costo.  On line products may be found at San Diego companies: 7 Hopes United, Vavavida, Lumily, and Gifts With a Cause.  Check out Fair Trade Coffee at Café Moto, Café Virtuoso, Ryan Bros., West Coast Coffee Roasters.

We anticipate more Fair Trade towns, colleges, and churches in the next decade!