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Merc Co+op to celebrate new mural honoring fair trade movement

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The Merc Co+op will soon celebrate a new mural on the outside of its building that aims to inspire shoppers to value the people who grow the food they buy.

Kansas City-based mural artists Isaac Tapia and Rico Alvarez, known together as IT-RA Icons, created the new mural on the exterior of the Merc, 901 Iowa St.

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The mural, which will be celebrated with a public ceremony on Saturday, depicts Joselinda Manueles, a fair trade coffee farmer from Honduras. Attendees will be able to taste coffee and meet the artists.

The mural’s completion aligns with Fair Trade Month, which is October. Fair trade centers on “partnership instead of exploitation,” according to a news release about the project. That partnership is between those responsible for growing the food people buy, those selling it, and those enjoying it.

Certification through Fairtrade International — indicated on items that have the “Fairtrade Mark” — is meant to help shoppers identify food that may align with their values.

Chris Mullins/Contributed Photo Artists Isaac Tapia and Rodrigo (Rico) Alvarez, IT-RA Icons, stand in front of their mural at the Merc.

“When shoppers buy products with the Fairtrade Mark, they’re prioritizing the people behind their products,” according to the release.

The Merc’s mural is part of a national movement of murals representing more than 2 million fair trade farmers and workers who grow the food folks buy and consume each day.

Manueles is a founding member of COMSA, an association of small-scale organic coffee producers located in the La Paz region of western Honduras, according to the release. She and her community supply coffee that is used by Kicking Horse Coffee, which is currently available for purchase at the Merc.

The unveiling is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Merc Co+op, 901 Iowa St. in Lawrence. The event is free to attend, and the official unveiling is set to take place at noon.

Visit Fairtrade America’s website, fairtradeamerica.org, to learn more.

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