Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Level Ground Trading --making the dream come true

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Level Ground Trading was founded by 4 Canadian families for the purpose of improving the lives of disadvantaged producers through trade.

The company's first trade relationship was setup through Hugo Ciro with a cooperative of small scale coffee farmers in Antioquia, Colombia.

From interviews and visits with community members Hugo heard that the farming families' greatest desire was to see their children go to school. Hugo found a group of dedicated teachers and community members who joined together to form Famicafe. In that first year, six students were provided full scholarships to highschool. These original students all completed highschool with top marks and are now attending university and technical colleges on Famicafe scholarships.

In 1999, Level Ground moved to its own roasting and packaging facility in Central Saanich (north of Victoria, BC).

In April 2002, Level Ground Trading's president, Hugo Ciro, was invited to Bolivia by the UNDP (United Nations Development Program). The UNDP had deployed a team of technical advisors to provide specialized technical assistance to Aymara coffee farmers and to promote international trade for their unique variety of specialty coffee. Level Ground was pleased to be the first Fair Trade importer of this coffee to North America.

levelIn November 2002 the Bolivian coffee and the first trial Frutos (dried tropical fruit) from the Fruandes in Bogota arrived! Soon after, Panela (Colombian cane sugar) arrived and Level Ground was working hard to partner with stores to sell these products.

By 2003, Level Ground was bursting at the seams (some office staff had moved to a VW van in the parking lot) and therefore purchased and renovated a larger facility. This move included the installation of two roasters and provided room for storage of our Colombian coffee, decaf, Bolivian organic, Panela (cane sugar) and Frutos (dried tropical fruit).

2004 promises to be another exciting year! Julian from Bolivia will be staying with us from March until June to learn language and understand our business. In June he will return to South America in order to implement some new community initiatives on the two coffee regions. Long term, our hope is to have Julian act as Level ground's Representative in interacting with all of the communities where we are trading and distributing fair trade premiums. At present, our board is looking at new projects where trade can provide economic and social development and where premium products can be brought to the North American marketplace.