The Tea Tree oil in Dr. Bronner’s popular tea tree liquid and bar soaps come from a Fair Trade and organic project with smallholder farmers in the foothills of Mount Kenya, north of Nairobi and directly on the equator.
Founded in 2005 by Dr. Bronner’s UK partner Earthoil, the project first recruited smallholders willing to try out a crop new to the area and convert to organic practices. By now, over 500 farmers are members of the project and have organized in the Kenya Organic Oil Farmer’s Association (KOOFA). Earthoil buys the twigs and leaves of the tea trees and steam-distills them at its facility in Nanyuki where workers enjoy fair and safe working conditions not commonly found in the area.
Since there is no established market price for this new crop, farmers receive a fair cost-based price that guarantees a profit. In addition, they receive a 10% organic premium. Buyers, including Dr. Bronner’s, also pay a 10% Fair Trade premium into a Fair Trade Fund, and farmer representatives democratically decide how the funds should be allocated to benefit the whole community.