About 12 years ago, Once Again Nut Butter Founder, Jeremy Thaler arranged for the purchase of sewing machines to help kick start a sewing co-op in Nicaragua. Years later, another sewing co-op is being started and we are excited to tell you all about it.
The organization called, Jubilee House is located in Managua, Nicaragua. They are a group of humanitarians and missionaries living in an intentional community. With a passion for co-ops they started a women’s sewing cooperative. This group of 18 women and 4 men have been working on the construction of their sewing and spinning facility for the last 3 years. The sewing co-op workers have volunteered their time investing about 40 hours a week per person. The women have hand made the concrete bricks, poured the concrete floor and have even climbed up on the roof structure to fasten the metal roofing.
The ceiling was constructed by a contract company, however all the metal sheets were assembled by the women.
Of the 18 women in this co-op all but four are also single mothers. They spend spare time making tortillas or collecting fire wood and selling those items to support themselves and their children. Nearby Once Again Nut Butter resides a school supply manufacturer, Shapes, Etc., who generously donated about 150 pounds of school supplies to these women for their children so they would have the supplies they need for school.
We have assembled important information about, Once Again and put it in a book form to assist our brokers. Company information as well as our products, history and mission are all included and the books will be sent to all of our sales representatives.
It’s official! We are an official Pride of New York Company. The Pride of New York program was started to support farms, retailers, manufactures, restaurants, and distributors of food products made in the State of New York. Buying products with the Pride of New York seal supports New York businesses and farms. And if you are a fellow New Yorker, buying local became a whole lot easier.
Once Again has always acted as a fair trade company paying world prices for commodities and caring for our small farms and bee keepers. As you know, we have spent a decade working with our partnering co-ops in Nicaragua, but it is time to make it official!
With our growing organic foods customer base, we realize our need to communicate our fair labor practices. Our customers want to know when they are buying organic products from us, they are also supporting good business practices.
In addition, we are excited to move forward with fair trade and labor certification of our honey products. Our domestic honey comes from small and rural bee keepers from some of the poorest counties in Upstate New York. Often when people think of New York, they immediately think of New York City and forget that New York is a whole lot bigger than “The City.” In fact, you may be surprised to learn that New York State enjoys the reputation of being one of America’s lead suppliers of food and agricultural products. Once Again is about 7 hours from Broadway! So, “Start spreading the news…” Once Again Nut Butter is on the edge of the Southern Tier. Our Once Again Dawes Hill brand supports a number of family bee keepers and hobby farmers.
This past January we visited the Jubilee House and 2 of our 11 co-ops in Nicaragua. Once Again has worked with Jubilee House for more than a decade. The Jubilee House is a 501c3 charity whose main purpose is to bring employment to Nicaraguans. About 12 years ago, Once Again with the help of Jubilee House, planted a few acres of sesame as a test plot in Nicaragua.
Around the same time when the test plots were planted, Jeremy Thaler, the founder of Once Again, arranged for the purchase of sewing machines from Champion Products Inc., when one of its local facilities closed down. He shipped those machines to one of Jubilee House’s sewing co-ops.
A few acres of successful sesame seeds planted 12 years ago, has now turned into the development of 11 farm cooperatives. Within each co-op, are more than 100 farms each, nearly 2000 farms total! Lloyd Kirwan, Purchasing Manager for Once Again, has been buying sesame seeds at world market prices, which has greatly enhanced the living conditions of the farmers and their families.
Once Again has been engaged in Fair Trade initiatives before there was ever a Fair Trade Certification process. We are hopeful that this year, our sesame Tahini will be Fair Trade Certified. There is potential that you will be able to search on the product’s lot number and link to that product’s co-op on our website. We are really excited about this.
In stark contrast of Once Again’s work, we saw banana growers and sugarcane workers in tents on strike. Living under plastic tarp, they are protesting against companies who have provided harmful pesticides for use on banana and sugar cane crops throughout Central and South America. These farmers have been on strike for 3 years in hopes of getting the medical attention they need! It was really tragic to see first hand the damaging environmental effects and, worse still, the diseases caused from non-organic farming practices. In addition, in our travels we came across a million dollar 6-acre facility that was developed for the garment industry. The building stood shining new, unused and abandoned. Apparently a tax write-off for some corporate giant; just a mile down the road was a community of some 15,000 people living in slums and open sewers, many unemployed, all in need of suitable housing and clean water.
It was then that the importance of our work really became apparent. Once Again’s support of the farmer co-ops helps to insure collective bargaining to keep prices stable and farm workers from being taken advantage of. The purchases of our commodities are at a minimum, at world market rates, and more often than not, we pay above world market prices. The support we have shown our co-ops has improved the living conditions of small farmers, and provided them with a network and means of solidarity. In just over a decade we have supported the honored work of Jubilee House. We thank you for doing the same by casting your dollar vote for Once Again products through your purchasing decisions. Together, we spread integrity.
We are excited to introduce our new look. We are saying goodbye to our traditional Once Again round image and our Dawes Hill Logos. With all the amazing improvements and growth we have experienced , it should come as no surprise that we have found a need to also improve our products shop-ability. We are striving to solve our customer’s problems of interpreting the various options of butters we offer such as, creamy vs. crunchy, salted vs. unsalted, organic vs. natural and the 6 different combinations of each individual sku. We want to continue to offer lots of fun choices, but we also want to insure you know what you are buying when you grab a yummy jar.