We had a good time running a stall at the AGM of Bedfordshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes held this year at King’s House on Ampthill Road, Bedford. Lots of people looking, lots of people buying. We took all sorts of stock, you never know what people might buy on this sort of occasion, but this time around chocolate was the winner by a mile – but only large bars not small! In theory we had lots of time to set up the stall, in the event eager early arrivals meant volunteers Pauline and Lynn just had a moment or two to get their breath back before the fun began. You had to be quick as people could only shop during the prosecco break before the meeting and the coffee break between the AGM and the speaker.
We’ve had a delivery of a big selection of sterling silver and sterling silver with semi-precious stones jewellery from our friend Sabine at Pachamama. Sabine imports jewellery on a fair trade basis from Bali and Java. Sabine not only pays a fair price “We never use our buying power to force prices down. We pay a good price for our jewellery, and in return expect the highest quality of work for you. This way we promote a culture of high standards, and encourage producers to take pride in their work” but she also knows all the producers personally and visits regularly to develop new designs and discuss business issues.
In addition Sabine only buys directly from the people who make the jewellery rather than from intermediaries, this allows her to be certain about wages and working conditions, that there is no child labour and that women and men are paid the same for the same work.
The typical supplier to Pachamama is a small family group working together to produce a high quality product but it isn’t sufficient that the workshop excels in jewellery making. The person in charge must be a skilled silversmith who works alongside the rest of the team and not just a business person.
It is part of the essence of fair trade that Pachamama not only demands the highest standards in its jewellery but in turn regards it as a responsibility to ensure that the producers have regular well-paid work. You will find Pachamama’s distinctive and very desirable jewellery on sale in the St Andrew’s shop.
By the kind invitation of the headteacher, last Saturday we were off to Barton-le-Clay to run a fair trade stall at the Orchard School Easter Egg Hunt. Parents and their children had great fun finding clues in the grounds before coming indoors to enjoy refreshments and a variety of stalls and a tombola. Fortunately the staff realised in time that our van was parked on top of one of the clues!
Best sellers on this occasion were cards from ‘Cards from Africa’, mini ceramic animal shaped candle pots with aromatic wax (great for birthday cakes!) from Shared Earth, glitzy boxes from Traidcraft and woven elephant patterned purses from Namaste. This is one of the few occasions when we don’t display chocolate on the stall as there is so much of it already on other stalls and in the tombola!
The church joined in our Fairtrade Fortnight campaign by making the 10am Parish Eucharist on Sunday March 3rd a celebration of fairtrade. Hymns at the all age service were accompanied by the Worship Band. The sermon was replaced by a viewing of the Fairtrade Foundation video ‘The Story of Chocolate’.
The usual post service refreshments were supplemented by these fairtrade chocolate based cakes. A member of our team stepped out of her comfort zone to make a marbled cake with chocolate cream filling, a chocolate and beetroot cake iced with chocolate, plus a vegan chocolate cake.
The shop was open as usual supplemented by a chocolate themed display in the hall showing all our Traidcraft, Eat Your Hat and Divine chocolate bars as well as other items such as cocoa and cookies containing fair trade chocolate.
Friday 8th March fell in Fairtrade Fortnight but was also International Women’s Day.
Invited by the International Sub-Committee of the Bedfordshire County Federation of Women’s Institutes we ran a stall at their meeting in Flitwick Cricket Club. The hall was packed so the stall had to be crammed into a corner but we were quickly surrounded by eager customers.
After selling we could relax and listen to a most interesting talk given by staff members of Associated Country Women of the World, an organisation with principles very much in tune with the ethics and aims of fair trade.
Some of the Fairtrade at St Andrew’s team had a great time at the Wixams Village Beaver Colony last Friday evening. Twenty four young Beaver Scouts participated in activities to help them understand more about fairtrade. They were a lovely set of young people, full of enthusiasm and ready to pitch into everything.
After a ‘work’ task in groups there was great excitement and indignation when, after all the groups had worked hard and done the job well, they were ‘paid’ very different amounts in home made £1 notes! The Beavers felt strongly that this wasn’t fair and insisted on a redistribution of the cash.
Later, just for fun, there was a ‘pushing fairtrade lemons with a pencil’ race to and fro across the Village Hall. Lemons roll around erratically when pushed and the colony members showed a lot of ingenuity in getting their lemons under control and going in the right direction as fast as possible.
The Colony leader had kindly agreed to us bringing a small stall of fairtrade goods and the evening ended with the Beavers crowding round to make purchases, with heavy sales in particular of small bars of Divine Chocolate.
It’s always good to be invited to show and sell our fairly traded goods in other places as well as at St Andrew’s. On this occasion, we were invited to sell at a Saturday Coffee Morning at Kempston East Methodist Church.
Our stall was given a great position on a dais in front of the altar! Those attending the event showed a great deal of interest in the stall and we were very pleased with our sales. Many thanks to Amanda (in the yellow dress) who invited us and also pitched in to help with setting up the stall and serving.
There are lots of Traidcraft products in the food section of our shop. Their ‘store cupboard’ fairly traded food items, such as nuts and dried fruits, have been in this style of packet. It is a smart design but a bit dark when lined up on the shelves.
Small firms like Traidcraft find it difficult to get packaging at an economic rate as manufacturers prefer orders for longer runs.
Now Traidcraft have taken a radical step by working with their friends at Tropical Wholefoods to jointly produce this new style packet.
The cashews are the first product in the new packaging. As old style packaging is used up, the other Traidcraft nuts and dried fruits will go into the new packets.
Our verdict? The light bright design looks better on the shelves and it is so much easier for customers and staff to see at a glance what’s in the packet.