By Nolan P. Smith
(Apple Valley)— Looking for that unqiue, hand made gift made by farmers and artisans across the globe? An International Fair Trade Market and Dinner will take place this Saturday and Sunday at Our Lady of the Desert Catholic Church in Apple Valley.
“For ten years now we’ve partnered with several different Fair Trade organizations, bringing together gifts produced by low-income artisans and farmers from all over the world,” said John Tonyan of Tonyan Coffee, a local roastery located in Apple Valley. “We offer these crafts, jewelry and food at a weekend market for the people of the high desert as a way to create meaningful connections, supporting those in distant lands, by not only giving them a market-place for the work of their hands, but by helping them to find solutions to their challenges and to improving their quality of life, reducing poverty and helping them to achieve their basic human rights. In this, we affirm the truth that every purchase matters. And of course, you enjoy the opportunity to purchase truly unique and beautiful gifts.”
The food aspect is yet another reason to make sure to stop by this weekend, as Tonyan explained, “In addition to the market, we bring together several restaurants from our community, as well as our own Filipino community for an International Meal. They donate and serve some of their ethnic dishes. For $3 a plate, you get to sample a delightful variety of foods; the proceeds of which are given to The Lord’s Table in Victorville so that others might share in a meal.”
How did the idea of a fair trade market get started in the High Desert? Tonyan spoke of a leader in the community who passed away earlier this year, “Kevin Olin, a true, great and humble man, saw the beauty in this alternative way of commerce and began working to bring Fair Trade to the High Desert over a decade ago, not only as a way of doing justice but as one more way to live out his Catholic calling. He started a coffee co-op for members of the community; taking orders for monthly Fair Trade coffee and chocolate shipments. Tonyan Coffee ultimately came into being because of this seed that Kevin planted, and the desire to establish a Fair Trade coffee company right here in Apple Valley.”
I asked Mr. Tonyan why a fair trade market is important to the High Desert, and he stated that, “We are not an island-I know, we’re a desert. We are connected to every other being on this planet, and when we acknowledge and support a coffee farmer in Chiapas, Mexico – working on an acre of land, alongside hundreds of similar farmers – by providing a fair wage for his or her labor, we acknowledge the dignity of all humanity. In fact, we touch a part of what it means to be human. We all need to be reminded of this, no matter where we live; geographically or economically.”
The International Fair Trade Market takes place this Saturday (1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.) and Sunday (7:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m.) at Our Lady of the Desert Catholic Church, located at 18386 Corwin Rd in Apple Valley. If you are unable to make it to the fair trade market, Tonyan recommends the following links: http://www.serrv.org, http://www.concernamerica.org, http://www.globalcrafts.org, http://www.equalexchange.coop, http://www.tenthousandvillages.com, as well as Kiva-http://www.kiva.org, is an online micro-loan program where you can choose to loan small amounts of money to people running small businesses all over the world.