By Manju Gupta, Equal Exchange Sales Representative
Equal Exchangers recently attended a glorious festival in Brattleboro, Vermont. Strolling of the Heifers is a community-based solution to what is a sad truth in New England: the decline of family farms and the rich culture that is lost as this trend continues. The event was created as a fun way to educate the public, especially kids, about the importance of sustainable local agriculture, as well as celebrate small-scale agriculture as a way of maintaining the livelihoods of families and the health of consumers who choose to support local farm products. Of course, this is not something that is realized over night, but each year the festival attracts a growing number of patrons and visitors.
Equal Exchange sent out a small team of ambassadors to march in the Strolling parade. Joined by friends and family, we proudly held our banner as we actually practiced what we preached, “Building a Cooperative Economy Together.” This is one thing I am very proud of when I think about Equal Exchange and our values here. It is one thing to create pretty marketing materials such as a banner that states our principles. It is quite another to actually live those principles, and that is something I get to witness on a regular basis at EE. Maybe it is because we are owners of our own business and therefore feel a different level of accountability to the work we do. Or maybe it’s just too hard to turn down the chance to march in a parade with cute farm animals while handing out delicious fair trade chocolate. For all of these reasons, we participated in an event that clearly holds great value for one of our partners, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, which is also a founding member of the Principle Six Co-operative Trade Movement.
The parade began with the strolling of…you guessed it, the heifers, followed by various school bands and other community organizations and vendors. While we had a small group compared to others, the Equal Exchange crew handed out tea and chocolate samples with bright smiles and great energy! Afterwards, we had an EE booth for folks to purchase coffee and other products. Overall, it was a lovely way to engage with a vibrant community. While the event itself was just a single happening, we were part of a much larger movement to reclaim our food system, and it felt udderly awesome!