by Kendra Wingate

Correspondent

Artisans and farmers from around the world are producing goods now available in Fairfield with the opening of 5 Oceans, 1215 Post Road.

The store, which boasts the slogan “Come see the world in the back of the Brick Walk,” imports items from Mexico, Vietnam, India, Nicaragua, Kenya, Peru, and Chile, alongside goods from the United States.

The idea for the fair trade store was born abroad.

“Several years ago I went to Senegal on a mission trip with my son. We shopped and saw things being made right in front of us by hand,” owner Christine Schwartz said. “I was teaching my children that there is a version of local no matter where you go and there are people who hand-make things and it’s been their tradition for sometimes centuries.”

Once back home, Schwartz found she wanted more of the items she had purchased while traveling, but could not find them.

“I started thinking one day I’m going to do something to bring all these beautiful products that I’d like to share to everybody.”

Handmade, one-of-a-kind items that are offered include coffees from Mexico, scarves from India, colorful baskets made from telephone wire, jewelry, bowls made from olive wood stumps, organic teas, soaps, reusable wine bags, artisan chocolates, and gifts. What is not grown is made using recycled material in underdeveloped countries.

Even the packing material is recycled.

The store is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, a trade association that “strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to fair trade,” according to its website.

Members have one primary purpose: to support farmers and artisans in developing countries through the practice of fair trade in a safe and healthy working environment, free of forced labor and discrimination, while seeking to encourage environmentally sustainable practices and to create positive and equitable change while revitalizing traditions and sustaining cultures. Producers are also offered prompt and fair pay in addition to interest-free advance payment for handmade goods and agricultural harvest.

Efforts to be sustainable include the solar-powered parking lights that make use of sunshine at the bright Brick Walk location of 5 Oceans, and bins that collect rainwater.

Information is available at 5oceansfairtrade.com or 203-955-1787.