St. Kateri’s Fair Trade Market

Guatemalan weavers make crafts to sell through Mayan Hands. Photo courtesy of Diane Yoder.Guatemalan weavers make crafts to sell through Mayan Hands. Photo courtesy of Diane Yoder.


Gazette Reporter

SCHENECTADY- The Capital Region is known for a number of features: the Saratoga Race Track, Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady, the Capital building in Albany.

However, the latest Capital Region claim to fame is fair trade (not to be confused with free trade).

Ballston Spa became the first fair trade town in 2008. It is now one of nine towns across the U.S. that have been declared a fair trade town, which means that it has at least three businesses that serve fair trade products, a committee focused on drawing more products and interest to fair trade, and at least two community organizations that are committed to fair trade.

Siena College is a fair trade college, one of three within the United States. They use fair trade coffee and food products in their dining halls and hold conferences that support the fair trade market.

In 2010, Emma Willard became a fair trade high school. It is the first high school in the nation to achieve fair trade status. They serve fair trade food and drink products within the dining hall, sell fair trade products in their school store and host fair trade markets every year.

Thus fair trade matters around here.

For readers who are still shaky on the definition of fair trade, it is a system where fair prices are paid for products produced in developing countries.

As some supporters like to say, it’s putting people before profits.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish of Schenectady has been involved in the fair trade industry since the early 2000s.

This year, they are delving deeper into it by hosting a two-day long fair trade market.

“We’ve branched out to other vendors this year,” said Elaine Bair, one of the market’s organizers.

Fair trade organizations and stores such as, Mayan Hands, Mango Tree Imports, Fair Trade Connections and SERRV will be at the market.

Each offers a stories with the products that they sell. There are stories on who made the product, what the product means in their culture and what making the product has enabled them to do.

“It’s not good enough to see poverty in the world anymore,” Bair said.   

That’s part of the reason she thinks that people are becoming more interested in fair trade products. They don’t want to just have the knowledge of impoverished nations, they want to feel like they can do something about it.

“So our fair trade market has two parts, the vendors and then the alternative giving,” Bair said.

If shoppers are feeling like they have too many things cluttering up their homes here and that none of the friends/family they’re buying for have space either, the fair trade market will feature four organizations that people can donate directly to.

There will be Safe Inc., the Schenectady Inner City Ministry, St. Joseph’s Place and Emmaus House.

“It’s an alternative to doing your holiday shopping at the mall,” said Diane Yoder, the operations manager at Mayan Hands and an organizer of the market at St. Kateri.

Seeks to create greater equity in world trade. It ensures fair wages, care for the environment, and respect for cultural identity. Sometimes it can be difficult for people to find venues for Fair Trade products (they can be pricier). It’s a system that puts people before profits.

Several groups came together this year to push for a greater venue

Event Details:

From 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, December 10th

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, December 11th

Where: St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, 2216 Rosa Road, Schenectady, NY 12309