You are here

Equal Exchange Summit - building a better food system together

Wednesday, June 3, 2020 to Saturday, June 6, 2020

Click here for updates on the 2020 Equal Exchange Summit and to RSVP so that you will receive updates in your inbox. 

Please share the Facebook event.

Since last year, Equal Exchange has been asking our base to engage in two solidarity campaigns: Behind the Barcodes, led by OXFAM, and the Food and Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act, led by the Organization of Competitive Markets.  At the 2019 Summit,  representatives from these organizations shared some of their work in addressing issues of justice, transparency, and accountability to consumers in the food system.

Join us on the web the first week of June!


About the annual summits:

Equal Exchange’s annual summits have been the culmination of what we are building with our organizing work. Over the past four years we have built a grassroots movement in service of a truly democratic food system. This event is the manifestation of a deeply connected community of like-minded individuals who care, want to be a part of making our food system better, and want to help Equal Exchange flourish as an alternative trade organization in an increasingly consolidated marketplace. Join our inspiring community for two days of workshops, organizing, and celebration with all parts of the Equal Exchange community. We will be joined by Equal Exchange worker-owners, producer partners, and citizen-consumer food justice advocates, like you! To succeed we need this movement to grow, we need your participation.



Why is this summit being called:

Equal Exchange was founded as an alternative trade organization (ATO) with the mission of connecting US consumers and small marginalized farmers from the global south from countries like Nicaragua, Peru, or India. Alternative trade organizations have foundational influence in the broader fair trade movement but have become isolated from even their most natural allies including coops, citizen movements, community economic organizations, unions, and NGO’s.  Because of this isolation, ATO’s are under grave threat for the future—at risk of not surviving the market in the next ten to fifteen years.

How are we, Equal Exchange, one of the most successful ATO’s in the global north, thinking about our future?  What is our plan to try to survive and prosper in this next period? How will we need to change to increase our odds of success?

We believe our path to success includes bringing our supporters, citizen-consumers, more deeply into our organization to foster real and direct solidarity with our small farmer partners and our growing co-operative network. We are forging the path as we walk it and your participation in our June summit is a vital piece of this vision.

See schedule, keynote and other presenters below. 



(all times listed are Eastern Daylight Savings Time)

DAY 1: WED, June 3, 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM

  • 6:00 -7:00 PM: Welcome & Community Introductions   
  • 7:10-8:30 PM: Keynote with Shirley Sherrod of New Communities, Inc.  

DAY 2: THURS, June 4, 6 PM to 8:45 PM 

  • 6 PM-7:15 PM: Session 1: Choose from a selection of workshops
  • 7:30 PM- 8:45 PM: Session 2: Choose from a selection of workshops

DAY 3: FRI, June 5, 6:00 PM to 8:45 PM

  • 6:00 PM-7:15 PM: Session 1: Choose from a selection of workshops
  • 7:30 PM- 8:45 PM Session 2: The Future of Equal Exchange; Building a Solidarity Network with Rink Dickinson, Founder and President of Equal Exchange

DAY 4: SAT, June 6, 12:00 PM to 2:45 PM   

  • 11:30 AM-12:00 PM: Optional Coffee Time  (social time to connect as a community over our late morning cuppa) 
  • 12:00 PM to 2:45 PM: Annual Member Meeting & Election 


KEYNOTE: Shirley Sherrod

Shirley Sherrod is a Baker County Georgia native who grew up on her family’s farm.  In March 1965, her father was murdered by a white farmer who was not prosecuted.  The tragic murder of her father when she was 17 years old, had a profound impact on her life and led to her decision to stay in the south to work for change.

Shirley helped to start the civil rights movement in Baker County and later married Charles Sherrod, one of the founding members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and leader of SNCC’s work in southwest Georgia.

With her husband and others, she helped to form New Communities, Inc., the first Community Land Trust in the United States.  New Communities serves as a laboratory and model in the movement toward the development of community land trusts (CLTs) throughout the country.  There are more than 200 CLTs today.

Shirley has a B.A. in Sociology from Albany State University in Albany, Georgia and a M.A. in Community Development from Antioch University in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  In 2015, she was awarded a Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Sojourner-Douglas College in Baltimore, Maryland.  She has received many awards for her work in civil rights and as an advocate for farmers and rural residents.

In 2009, Shirley was appointed by the Obama Administration as USDA Georgia State Director of Rural Development.  She became the first person of color to hold the position.  Shirley was forced to resign her position in 2010 after conservative blogger Andrew Brietbart edited a speech she made at a NAACP banquet, to make it appear that she discriminated against a white farmer while serving in her federally appointed position.  Subsequent events showed that Brietbart’s edited video was taken out of context and was part of broader comments that conveyed a completely different meaning.  USDA Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack apologized and offered her another position, which she declined.

Shirley serves as the Executive Director of the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education and Vice President for Development for New Communities, Inc.

Shirley is married to Rev. Charles Sherrod and they have two children and five granddaughters.



Claire Kelloway is a reporter and researcher with the Open Markets Institute. She is the primary writer for Food & Power, a first-of-its-kind website, providing original reporting and resources on monopoly power and economic concentration in the food system. Her writing on food and agriculture has appeared in The Washington Monthly, ProPublica, Civil Eats, The American Prospect, and more.

Sarah James is a member of Equal Exchange's growing citizen-consumer network and also an investor. She is a co-founder of the U.S. eco-municipality movement and co-author of The Natural Step for Communities: How Cities & Towns Can Change to Sustainable Practices



Em Ambrose :


Feedback on previous Equal Exchange Summits:

“I have always been an Equal Exchange fan, but every time I attend an event put on by Equal Exchange I am even more humbled and enthusiastic about the mission and the great work that is being done to promote REAL fair trade in a way that matters. I am telling more and more people everywhere I go about why they should buy and promote Equal Exchange coffee and chocolate especially, but about the company in general and the other products. The fact that it is a worker owned co-op is important for people to know and understand the impact.” - Katharine, VT

 “Thank you Equal Exchange for providing such an engaging and inspiring experience to join others in a common struggle for fair trade and economic justice! It was an immense pleasure to gather with like-minded folks who are doing great work in their communities. I hope to attend this in the future as the movement grows! Keep up the amazing work you do everyday!" - Holly, PA


Have more questions about the Equal Exchange Summit? Contact Emily Ambrose at 508-427-5203,