A Fairtrade town has been throwing itself into Fairtrade Fortnight, which ends this weekend.
For a final flourish, there’s a chance to join the town steering committee for the Buckingham Big Brew tomorrow, Saturday, from 10am to noon at the Old Gaol.
As well as Fairtrade refreshments, there will be a Traidcraft stall, and all donations to Traidcraft’s Fair Necessities appeal will be matched pound for pound by the UK government to help smallholder farmers in developing countries improve their farming methods and work their way out of poverty.
Buckingham achieved Fairtrade Town status in 2007, since when the town council has served Fairtrade tea and coffee in its offices and canteens and whenever refreshments are served.
Fairtrade guarantees farmers and producers in the developing world a fair and stable price for their produce, demands safe working conditions, prohibits exploitative child labour and encourages sustainable methods of production.
Buckingham has to renew its Fairtrade status every two years, and the Buckingham Fairtrade Steering Group produces a leaflet detailing all the town’s businesses supplying Fairtrade products – from chocolate at C.A. Holics in Meadow Row, to seasonal flowers at Moss in Cornwall Place to Fairtrade wool at The Nimble Thimble on Well Street.
Finca El Monte, on Well Street, specialises in ethically produced items, with owners Claire Gallagher and Mark Taunton travelling the developing world in search of producers.
They have just returned from Nicaragua, where they have sourced a new company for handcrafted ceramics and also a new supplier of sterling silver jewellery.
Ms Gallagher said: “It was a really lovely country – the people were really open and friendly.
“It has the highest poverty rate in Central America, people live in huts and they don’t have indoor plumbing or anything like that, but there’s such colour and vibrancy, there seems to be a joy of life that is lacking in a lot of other places.”
The Nicaraguan earrings which are now in stock are based on the designs of petroglyphs (rock engravings) from the volcanic island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua.
The ceramics, which will arrive in due course, are from the village of San Juan de Oriente, which has been making pottery for thousand of years.
The Buckingham School is well on its way to becoming the town’s first Fairtrade School.
A day of activities last Friday for Fairtrade Fortnight included a talk to Year 7 students from the Buckingham Fairtrade Steering Group, Fairtrade stalls in the playground during lunchtime and a fashion show displaying clothes by Fairtrade company The People Tree.
The school has completed two stages out of three towards gaining Fairtrade status and becoming a Fairtrade School.
The two stages completed so far are FairAware and FairActive. The third and final certificate will be the FairAchieve award.
To get the awards so far, the school has shown commitment to Fairtrade, making Fairtrade part of its curriculum over the past two years, specifically in citizenship, geography, English, art and food technology as well as in PE – using fairtrade footballs.
Teacher Jonathan Mandel, said: “The most important aspect for me in terms of us promoting Fairtrade is clearly to do with raising awareness among our students of where the products they eat and use come from, and as importantly, who produces these products.
“We want our students to become active and responsible citizens who care about the community and world they live in.
“Daniel Sear and Harry Akerman, from Year 13, have been instrumental to the work we have been doing in school. They have helped organise the events as well as lead the younger students who are part of the Fairtrade team. I am very impressed with the work they have done - it is heartening to see students take a lead on such a worthwhile cause. The skills they have developed will surely help them in their next step in life.”
As well as creating strong links with the Buckingham Fairtrade Steering Group, the school has a display promoting Fairtrade, and last year MP John Bercow gave a talk on world trade.