Stacey Toews, co-owner of Level Ground Trading.

Stacey Toews, co-owner of Level Ground Trading.

MERCHANT OF COOL: Stacey Toews co-owner of Level Ground Trading

Level Ground works directly with producers of coffee and fruit in developing countries.

Fair is the focus for Level Ground Trading co-owner Stacey Toews.

“Our focus is to do more than any other fair trade company is doing,” he says.

The company, now 15 years old, is based in Central Saanich where they do all the roasting, packaging and shipping of their products — mostly coffee and dried tropical fruits.

“We are transparent about what we pay, and about what the farmer is getting. We find the more transparent we are, the more loyal our customers are,” Toews says.

Level Ground works directly with producers of coffee and fruit in developing countries. It also sets its own prices to ensure what Toews calls “real fair trade.”

“Fair prices set by Europe or in North America mean nothing. We’ve always paid, on average, 25 to 30 per cent above the so-called fair commodity price.”

The company’s overall vision is to alleviate poverty through direct and fair trade. “After 15 years, we are seeing more and more people affected by poverty. We want to find people and groups that have potential (to benefit from this),” he says.

Level Ground’s trade deals support community projects like clean drinking water, educational scholarships for children of farming families and healthcare.

As well as focusing on fair trade around the world closer to home, Towes says the company tries to eliminate its impact on the environment by recycling – they send almost nothing to the Hartland Landfill.

“These are the standards we strive for and we invite others to come along,” Toews says.

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