At From the Field, we offer gourmet, single-origin, equitably sourced Bourbon vanilla beans. We are a family-owned company based in Oakland, California and Madagascar. Our team is committed to equitable trade, community development, and organic cultivation. At From the Field, we think about trade a bit differently. That is because we learned about trade in a different way: by first working at the farmer level for over two years as Peace Corps Environment volunteers in Madagascar, experiencing hands-on vanilla cultivation and curing. During this time, we also had many long conversations with farmers and families about how they imagined better trade systems. It is from these ideas and conversations that we developed our FTF trade model, working directly with rural grower associations. Such models assure that income is circulated back into rural communities, and empowers growers to share ideas, information, and materials with one another. Overall, we enjoy connecting the lives of growers with the lives of people who love their vanilla beans. Consumers can know that their purchase helped to build rural libraries, support reforestation projects, and fund farmer training programs. Growers can receive higher prices, and gain increased understanding of the markets where their products are sold. Our company takes a long-term approach to trade relationships, and we are continuously inspired by the real differences that such efforts can make in communities near and far. From the Field works directly with rural vanilla and clove growers in the Mananara Nord region of Northeastern Madagascar. Here, families have been cultivating vanilla for generations, and take great pride in the superior quality of their vanilla beans.
The growers we work with own their own small plots of land. The money families earn from vanilla and clove production is often the primary source of cash income for the year. This income is put towards meeting basic household needs such as education, health care, and food security. From the Field offers rural growers a premium price for their high quality vanilla beans – money that goes a long way for families.
From the Field has helped numerous famers associations and cooperatives in regions where we work. We offer capacity building and training opportunities to farmers. One of our primary farmers cooperatives in Mananara Nord evolved from ongoing conversations between our staff and many of the farmer associations we have worked with since 2005. The cooperative was formed to bring together many local farmer associations across a large rural region. This organization reaches hundreds of households, and spans a region that is home to some of the most lush vanilla and clove production areas in Madagascar. We support cooperatives that are led democratically by elected local farmers. Our co-op partners are dedicated to providing members a forum that encourages growers to share experiences, labor, ideas, and market information. From the Field's Madagascar team works with cooperative project leaders to assure the highest quality standards are maintained during cultivation, harvest and transport of our vanilla beans. We work with growers who are more than just talented farmers; they are also community leaders. Many are active in community activities, including health initiatives, women's associations, and tree planting efforts. Two of From the Field's founding members have worked and lived with these communities over many years, and have really gotten to know the people, culture, and products of the region. This history has given us a first-hand look at what communities envision for their future, and we work hard to support ideas that come out of the communities where we work. This approach has inspired us to partner with growers to help launch a variety of community projects, including local tree nurseries, a community library, and a college scholarship fund. Overall, we believe that direct trade is about more than offering farmers higher prices – it is also about empowering farmers, their communities and their families.