By Sarah Wakefield, Sustainable Sourcing and Fairtrade Manager

As Fairtrade Fortnight comes to an end, we’d like to share the story of Grace Otieno, a flower producer from Naivasha, Kenya.

Grace lives in Naivasha, where she’s worked as a flower producer at Flamingo Horticulture’s farm for the last 13 years. The farm became Fairtrade certified in 2009, and grows over 100 million beautiful flowers in different colours every year. As a result, they’re one of the biggest producers of Fairtrade flowers in the world. Grace has seen a lot of changes throughout her community, all thanks to the life changing impact received through Fairtrade.

We get a 10% Premium on what we sell in the Fairtrade market, which we use to improve the lives of our workers. It’s made such a difference, through things like building medical facilities and classrooms in the local community and supporting health initiatives. In 2015, I fell ill, and through Fairtrade I was able to be treated. I also want to be a plant driver, and it has paid for 60% of my driving licence. It will even help to pay for my son’s secondary school education.

Fairtrade makes a difference to producers’ lives, and thanks to Fairtrade Premium, many people are able to make their dreams a reality. After three years in the job, Grace knew everything about how the roses are produced, becoming a true expert in the field.

Thanks to Fairtrade, many women on the farms now get the opportunity to do courses and go after their dreams. These courses might be in dressmaking, hairdressing or cooking, but for me it was taking a course on business management. Fairtrade has helped me to achieve my dreams. I’ve also had the opportunity to be a supervisor, an opportunity that women rarely get.

Flamingo Horticulture’s farm has the highest sustainability standards in Kenya, being certified gold by the Kenya Flower Council as well as Fairtrade’s standards. The roses are planted in a hydroponic system where the flowers grow in a recycled water-based nutrient solution, alongside the use of harvested rainwater. This helps preserve the waters of the nearby Lake Naivasha. It’s a true feat of sustainability engineering which help protect the ground and soil, their water reserves and the environment.

Every stem we grow that’s sold in Co-op stores is such a big help. It changes our lives and empowers our workers and communities. And working here with all these colours? Well, it’s a very nice thing to see.

Grace’s story shows how choosing Fairtrade can help change lives, supports people and highlights our commitment to co-operate for a fairer world. Join the movement, today and every day, and #ChooseFairtrade.