In addition to being a public-benefit corporation in the state of Minnesota, we are committed to upholding the Fair Trade Federation Principles in everything we do. These include:

Cultivating new market opportunities
Since day one, we have understood that we bring resources, connections, and funding to the Farmers’ Association of Moreau that they may not otherwise have access to. We are not agricultural experts — we rely on the farmers’ vast knowledge and experience in tending their land and local ecosystems for that. Instead, we have the unique ability to create, nurture, and grow new market opportunities for their natural products; we can help them finance sustainable farming practices by finding profitable uses for raw goods like honey, and beeswax. This is especially useful since honey competes with sugar cane in local markets (thus, the price is undercut by this much cheaper alternative), and beeswax has no wide use in Haiti after harvesting from the hives (giving us the opportunity to create an entirely new income source for the farmers).
Developing transparent and accountable relationships
Vetiver Solutions would not exist or have grown without individual, business, and community relationships at each step of what we do. From our earliest days as a group project at the University of Minnesota to our years-long partnership with the Farmers’ Association of Moreau, we rely on open communication, transparent business practices, and accountability to our promises to do our work every day.

In Haiti: We maintain constant contact with the farmers in Moreau to keep them updated on our business operations, decisions, and performance. During visits to Haiti, we hold discussions, in both small and large groups, to allow members of the community to ask us questions, provide feedback on our operations, and discuss their worries or criticisms.

In the US: We pride ourselves on being transparent with our supporters, customers, and retailers about our processes, products, and financial expenditures. From our digital presence to our annual reports, we keep our followers updated on our work and welcome questions, feedback, and ideas at all times.

Building capacity
In our work, building capacity means growing our operations methodically and sustainably — for people and the planet. This will always be a challenge in rural Haiti, and is a key reason that we do this work — capacity building requires physical infrastructure, financial investments, and policy changes that can be developed slowly over time in rural Haiti, but are not guaranteed and will always come with complexity. Because Moreau is a rural community in a mountainous region of the country, our partner farmers do not have consistent access to paved roads, running water, electricity, and other infrastructure. This means that their ability to supply us with beeswax and honey is constrained by the lack of machinery and electricity available to them. While we do account for infrastructure gaps and provide the community with annual funds to invest in community needs as they see fit, we understand that scaling our operations and growing capacity in the region will be a slowly evolving undertaking. We believe our dual initiatives of environmental sustainability and economic opportunity will provide farmers with the resources they need to catalyze this process — but also recognize that there are external factors, including politics, natural disasters, etc., that will always be out of our control.
Promoting fair trade
Even before joining the Fair Trade Federation, we have proudly aligned ourselves with organizations that share our values. Through our collaborations with retailers, markets, and more, we collectively promote fair trade principles, making ethical business and products more accessible to consumers. We value our participation in the fair trade community because it has been a strong channel to reach broader audiences and forge meaningful connections — while also spreading these values and helping consumers make better purchasing decisions. Through this community, we have grown sales of our products, benefitting our partner farmers and the community they are a part of. And when we work with organizations that are not verified fair trade, we still review their mission and values to ensure they are consistent with ours.
Paying promptly and fairly
Above all else, we value our relationship with the farmers in Moreau and the transparent, honest communication that we maintain with them. A key part of this is ensuring prompt and fair compensation for their work, especially providing them with pre-harvest financing and other funding arrangements to help them grow sustainable agriculture in their region. Furthermore, we pay in advance of receiving honey and beeswax from the farmers,which ensures that they are paid in full regardless of our sales in the US or delays associated with transportation and seasonal operations.
Supporting safe and empowering working conditions
The health and safety of the farmers in Moreau is our top priority and we ensure that growing their farming operations does not pose any risk to them or the natural environment. All harvesting of honey and beeswax takes place on individual farms. Farm land is located on the same property as their houses; the farmers in Moreau do not engage in communal farms or wild-harvest gathering. Each of our partner farmers has between 2-25 beehives, which they harvest once or twice a year. All beekeepers have, at minimum, basic protective gear including a beekeeping suit and a smoker which decreases risk of stings while handling the hives. As part of our efforts to expand beekeeping, we plan to provide additional safety equipment and formal training. Farmers only have manual equipment and labor; there is no electricity or gas-powered machine on the farms. We evaluate the health and safety risks during the entire beekeeping process by discussing the process with the farmers as well as several U.S.-Based beekeeping experts. During our visits, we meet with the farmers and they show us their beehives and demonstrate how they care for them; we take note of any health and safety concerns to discuss areas of improvement with the larger Farmers’ Association of Moreau.
Ensuring the rights of children
We are dedicated to ensuring children are not involved in agricultural labor or inappropriately active in the production or harvest of beeswax and honey. Our expectations regarding the involvement of children in production are clear and are consistently communicated to our partners in Moreau: children will not be heavily involved in the production of the honey and beeswax we buy from the farmers. During our visits to Haiti, we tour farms and speak to farmers directly to ask how children are involved in their work. We require confirmation that children are not involved in the care of beehives or harvest of bee products, since only trained adult beekeepers with proper protective equipment should be doing this work. Furthermore, during the Farmers’ Association meetings that we attend, we ask farmers to verify that children are not active in any part of the harvest or production of the bee products we purchase.

The only acceptable exception to this is basic chores that children complete in their homes; children under 18 are vital in helping their households and around the farms in Haiti. This is a deep-rooted cultural tenet that is seen as basic chores and expected as all family members play certain roles. We recognize that there are cultural expectations for children to help their parents with duties around the home and farm. As such, we understand that children may be involved with what would be considered basic chores for the family. Based on speaking with our partner farmers, we know these tasks typically involve getting water, gathering tools, and cleaning. Though we accept this level of involvement of children in families’ production and harvesting of products, we also are clear that any involvement including basic chores cannot be at the expense of schooling. Over 95% of children in Moreau are in school, so our expectation is that no children will be working at home or on production during school hours.

Cultivating environmental stewardship
Since our founding, our company has held the core belief that poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability are interconnected goals that can be achieved together. At the beginning of our partnership, the Farmers’ Association of Moreau made it clear that they struggled most with soil erosion and deforestation in their mountainous region; over time, this has led to fertile topsoil washing away, less food production, and less biodiversity in the area. We have worked together over the past several years on initiatives like beekeeping that provide the farmers with new sources of income and increased food production.

This is long, slow work that relies on the generational knowledge of the farmers to tend to their crops, animals, and trees in geographically and culturally appropriate ways. We further uphold our commitment to environmental sustainability in our operations in the US. All of our products are packaged in materials that are either compostable or recyclable (cardboard, paper, glass, metal, etc.) and we thoroughly vet our suppliers’ environmental impact before we purchase from them.

Respecting cultural, racial, and ethnic identities
Haiti has a long, complex history of colonization, enslavement, revolution, and globalization. Whether within our executive team or in conversation with the farmers, we ensure we have nuanced, context-driven dialogues that center equity and justice. We often have to make big decisions about our operations, and always discuss our options and impacts with our partner farmers before we move forward. We are dedicated to always respecting the cultural, racial, and ethnic identities of the farmers we work with. Our team always own up to and fix our inevitable mistakes along the way. We are also committed to these values in our interactions with our supporters, customers, and retailers; as a corporate citizen of Minnesota, US, and the world, we hold ourselves accountable to ethical and transparent engagement from the first step in our supply chain to the checkout line.

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