Founder and Executive Director of Seeds to Sew Ellyn Ito, left, with Mercy, one of the artisans making Githomo gifts using banana tree bark sisal and other natural materials.

Hopewell-based Seeds to Sew International, Inc. has been named a member of the Fair Trade Federation, the trade association that strengthens and promotes organizations fully committed to fair trade.

The Fair Trade Federation is a membership organization, not a certifying body. Rather than certifying individual products, businesses must go through a screening process in order to become members. The screening is a holistic evaluation of the business’ fair trade practices.

“It means that supporting fair partnerships with the women and girls involved in our programs is the primary goal of ours,” Ellyn Ito, founder and executive director of Seeds to Sew, said. “We invest completely in those who make the products that we sell—which is a rarity for many—and we are proud that this sets us apart in the fair trade movement.”

Seeds to Sew’s mission is to improve the lives of women and girls in disadvantaged communities through education and job skills training.

Currently, they work with women and girls in subsistence farming villages in rural Kenya. The participants in Seeds to Sew programs are learning how to sew by making eco-friendly Enkiteng bags (cloth gift wrapping bags). Mothers make jewelry and handicrafts as a way to pay for school tuition for their daughters and nieces.

All products are sold in the U.S. market at the Seeds to Sew store, located at 16 Seminary Ave. in Hopewell, on their website, and through various resellers.

“We have always adhered to all nine fair trade principles by default, and it is rewarding to see it being recognized,” operations managed Nina Moukova said. “We are extremely proud of our work and accomplishments. We look forward to growing our operations and empowering more women, helping them become part of their economy, and helping underprivileged girls pursue their dream of education.”

This July, several Hopewell Valley Central High School students and teachers will be traveling to Kenya with Global Connections, a service-learning organization founded by HVCHS science teacher, Dr. David Angwenyi. They will be building upon Seeds to Sew programs in Kenya first initiated by students who traveled there last summer.

For more information about Seeds to Sew, visit their website.