1st Unitarian Universalist Congregation
of the Palm Beaches
635 Prosperity Farms Rd.   
North Palm Beach, FL   33408
Our current offerings are these -

Coffee - regular or decaf $8.00/bag
Tea - Rooibus or Green 4.00/box
Hot Cocoa Mix - spicy or regular 4.50/can
Dried Cranberries 4.50/package
Roasted Pecans 4.50/package

What's My Story?

By Sylvia Ansay, 1st UU's Fair Trade products co-ordinator

I first heard about the Interfaith Coffee Project when it was mentioned from the
pulpit one Sunday in summer, 2002. It was shortly after our minister, John Rex,
returned from the GA. As I recall it, and he gave a brief description of the project,
noting the UUSC's participation in it, and expressed the hope that someone in the
congregation might look into starting a Coffee Project here. When I researched
the project online, I was immediately encouraged to see that it was, first of all, a
co-op effort - a workers' co-op in Massachusetts (Equal Exchange) serving as an
umbrella sales resource for various, small, farm co-ops in South and Central
America, Mexico and Africa. Equal Exchange was uniquely dedicated to sell only
fair trade products and they had been doing so since 1986. I didn't fully understand
fair trade at the time, but I was familiar with the tradition of farm co-ops in rural

I grew up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin in the 1940s and 50s. It was a typical
farm for the area, 100 acres of which 80 acres were cleared for farming with the
remaining 20 acres of woodland. What was atypical was the farmer, my mom, a
widow with eight girls and a boy, whose ages ranged from 18 months (me) to
seventeen years at the time of my dad's death. Mom kept our dairy herd, usually
around 20 milking cows, and our family together, with the help of my sisters and
Irwin, the hired man who worked for us for almost 20 years. I remember riding
along in our 1939 Chevy truck with my mother, going to the mill at "the Co-op" in
Cedar Grove, with a load of grain and returning with feed for the cattle and
chickens. I remember my mother, the farmer, standing among the men, talking
about the weather, the crops, the animals. I remember also the co-op check,
representing our shared profits for the year, eagerly awaited in late autumn and
arriving shortly before the holidays. As soon as it came, Mom would sit at her
"writing desk" in the corner of the kitchen near the radiator and pay bills.
Whatever was left was set aside for our Christmas.

For me, the Coffee Project offered an opportunity to show appreciation for those
farmers whose efforts made a positive difference in the quality of life our family
enjoyed by giving support to small farmer cooperative efforts in other parts of the
world. My original objective for the Coffee Project was to create awareness of
the fair trade movement as a social justice issue, a way for our congregation to
recognize "the inherent worth and dignity" of small farmers, literally, the laborers
in the field (UUA - 1st Principle). The project became more than that for me,
however. Through it, I have learned about the close connection between social
justice, sustainable agriculture and rain forest preservation. I've gained increasing
appreciation and respect for our own UUSC and their involvement with the coffee
farmers and their co-ops, their programs for financial training and literacy in Latin
America. And that brings my thoughts back to us, the congregation here at 1st UU
of the Palm Beaches where you'll find me, perhaps with another Fair Trade
activist, standing ready and waiting for you at the Coffee Project table -- now
called the Fair Trade Marketplace -- in Ministers' Hall almost every Sunday.

Who Benefits?
Each purchase of fair trade coffee, tea or cocoa products for our 1st UU
Marketplace helps to purchase the coffee see drink during Hospitality and other
congregational events. Your support also includes a contribution made to the UUSC
by Equal Exchange, a contribution that goes directly into working with the farmers
within their villages. The UUSC has been involved not only in promoting the co-op
movement but also in helping farmers improve the quality of their products and
increase production, showing "respect for the interdependent web of all existence
of which we are a part" (UUA - 7th Principle). Through co-ops and their trade
partners, the farmers who participate in the Fair Trade network are learning
"green" methods of sustainable agriculture, methods that use organic fertilizers and
shade-grown plant varieties, methods that preserve the unique plant and animal
resources of the rain forests.

So here's the question: How green is your cup of coffee? Each cup of Equal
Exchange fair trade coffee that you drink is about as green as it can get! How good
does it taste? If you've been enjoying Sunday Hospitality at 1st UU, you already
know the answer. Thanks to your direct purchases of coffee, as well as the many
direct donations of fellowship coffee, we've reached the tangible objective
originally set as our measure of success; the Project now provides 100% of our
Sunday Hospitality coffee. Truly, we are living our Principles -- and enjoying it.