Camino is owned by La Siembra Co-operative in the Ottawa-Gatineau region of Canada. La Siembra means “sowing” or “planting time” in Spanish, a symbol for the seeds of change we are sowing through our co-operative and fair trade business models.
La Siembra was established in 1999 by three young entrepreneurs. Having worked overseas, the founders of La Siembra experienced the exploitative nature of trade on the lives of family farmers. These three friends decided to provide Canadian consumers with an alternative to conventionally traded products by establishing a worker-owned co-operative.
Year 1 was spent in the community kitchen of First United Church—a socially progressive church in Ottawa. As there was no fair trade certification system for cocoa-based products at that time, La Siembra’s founders adopted the guidelines of the Fair Trade Foundation. They began sourcing cocoa from a co-operative in Costa Rica and sugar from a mill supporting co-operative farmers in Paraguay. An organic recipe was developed and the founders began to manufacture and distribute a hot chocolate, sugar and cocoa line themselves.
In 2002, La Siembra worked with Fairtrade Canada (then Transfair Canada) to develop a certification system for cocoa, chocolate and sugar products in Canada and became the first registered importers of Fairtrade certified cocoa and sugar in North America.
La Siembra Co-operative recently celebrated its 15th year anniversary of being 100% fair traders in Canada. Our group has been operating as authentic fair traders under the “all that can be” fair trade principle, meaning that all ingredients in a Camino end-product, such as our chocolate bars, that can be sourced on fair trade terms is fair trade (such as sugar, vanilla, spices).
Our team is dedicated and committed to fair trade through our education and advocacy work in Canada, and direct engagement with our producer partners in the South. We are grateful for the support of our producer partners, investors, customers, loyal consumers and fellow advocates; as without them it wouldn’t be possible to continue do the great work we do.
La Siembra Co-operative works directly with over 18 producer co-ops in 9 countries, contributing to the livelihoods of over 36,000 small scale family farmers.