With the holidays right around the corner, excitement is in the air around flowers. Our floral buyers are busy ensuring the right varieties and colors of the freshest flowers make their way to our stores, but we recently had the opportunity to meet someone who reminded us that flowers can mean so much more. Gladys, a worker from a Fair Trade certified farm that supplies our Whole Trade Guarantee roses, came to our headquarters in Austin, Texas last month. Our produce team from across the country had gathered for a meeting, and Gladys shared her story with us. Gladys has worked at Agrocoex, one of our Whole Trade partner farms in Ecuador, for 17 years. She explained that at Agrocoex she is able to participate in decision making and feels comfortable to express herself and her opinions. Women make up about 60% of the workforce at the farm and are valued for their work. Gladys and her coworkers have all have received training in labor rights, project development, negotiation skills and management. Through the farm’s programs, which are supported by Whole Trade purchases, she has received education for both herself and her 12-year-old son. In addition to taking classes at the farm’s computer lab, her son attends school courses sponsored by the farm, located where Gladys knows he is safe and the people are reliable. Her family received dental care that is affordable and close to their home. And Gladys has received a loan for home improvement and is working towards her dream of building her own home on the farm’s Fair Trade funded housing project. Gladys told our group, “Agrocoex has given me a job where I feel respected as a woman, with fair wages and opportunities for me and my family.” Thank you to Gladys, for sharing your story with us! And thank you to all of our shoppers who help support this program. Thanks to your purchases of Whole Trade flowers, there are hundreds of stories like this one from Gladys.