Roses for Isabella

New children's book teaches us about life on a Fair Trade flower farm

08/12/2011 - 11:28 AM

This morning, Cotacachi, the volcano that watches over my village, is veiled in clouds of white, as soft as the wool my grandfather spins. After breakfast, I get ready to walk to school. Mama weaves my hair into a long braid and ties it with a brightly colored ribbon. Papa watches me put my writing book into my schoolbag. He says with a big smile, "Isabella, you are our family's first writer."

Fair Trade USA is proud to introduce the new children's book by Diana Cohn, Roses for Isabella. The book invites us to experience life in Ecuador through the eyes of a young girl with a passion for writing. Through her journal, we learn about Isabella's parents who work on one of the many farms that grow beautiful roses to be sold all over the world. But, as the book reveals, not all of these farms are fair to workers and kind to the earth. Through Isabella's eyes we learn how her family's life changes for the better when her parents find work at the Fair Trade flower farm.

"Happy stories such as Roses for Isabella are happening all over the world," says Lynn Lohr, author of the book's afterward.  "Isabella's family is one of a million and a half families in Latin America, Africa and Asia that are part of a sweeping global movement called Fair Trade."

To address issues like low-wages, unsafe working conditions and lack of healthcare, Fair Trade USA launched Fair Trade Certified flowers into the U.S. market just in time for Valentine’s Day 2008. Now, more than 11,000 flower workers on Fair Trade farms across Colombia, Ecuador, and Kenya – mostly women – are selling to U.S. businesses and receiving a fair price for all of their hard work. In a few short years these workers have earned close to $1 million in community development funds. These funds pay for preventative health services like cancer screening and prenatal care, as well as other important initiatives like education, housing and clean water.

While Roses for Isabella is a fictional tale--it mirrors the true life successes of Fair Trade certification around the world. 

Let us introduce Joana Quitiaquez (left), a 23-year-old single mother and flower worker at the Hoja Verde flower farm in Cayambe, Ecuador.  Born into a sharecropping family with five brothers and sisters and an elderly mother, Joana knows what it means to be impoverished in Ecuador. Her mother, Maria, works on a non-Fair Trade rose farm nearby not far from Hoja Verde. There Maria makes much less money, is often forced to work 7 days a week, never receives overtime and has developed asthma from working around greenhouse fumes and pesticides.

For Joana, Fair Trade flowers changed everything. At Hoja Verde, workers not only receive higher wages and overtime pay, they also have access to free eye exams, routine medical screenings and free child care and pediatric assistance. It was through these medical services that Joana’s life was saved.  “At the other farm [non-Fair Trade], they wouldn’t have done this for me," says Joana, "but thankfully, everything turned out OK and I am still here with all of you.”

Support real life flower farmers like Joana by spreading the word about Fair Trade and sharing Roses for Isabella with all your friends and family. Just in time for "back-to-school," the book can be purchased online HERE.

In the words of Isabella herself.....

A better world is blooming! When roses, red and yellow and other colors of the rainbow, are grown with care, when those who grow them are treated fair, Pachamama (Mother Earth) smiles. A better world is blooming!


08/12/2011 - 11:28 AM
08/12/2011 - 11:28 AM