Yearly Archives: 2020

University of Bath’s Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations 2020 – Part 3 of 3

Gloria Maria Talavera Gonzalez. Fairtrade Coffee & Cocoa Farmer & Women’s Coordinator Producer from the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative, Nicaragua.

She has been farming cocoa and coffee in Corinta Finca for over 25 years. Fairtrade has enabled:-

  • Financing a scholarship for her son to study agricultural engineering in Germany for a year, helping to keep young people involved with the land.
  • Fairtrade provided credit for replacing all her coffee plants when the fungal leaf rust disease (La Roya), decimated her and neighbouring crops in 2013.
  • Her son and daughter help on the plantation at weekends, removing poor quality coffee beans and cocoa pods that not growing well.

Gloria stressed the importance of Fairtrade especially in the areas of:

  1. Developing and spreading women’s gender equality, men and women are paid the same price for their coffee. A separate women’s coffee brand has developed over the last few years called “Sister”.
  2. Through Fairtrade producer cooperatives, larger amounts of coffee and cocoa can be exported, on newly surfaced roads, partly paid for by the Fairtrade Premium.
  3. The organic coffee and cocoa meet the exacting Fairtrade Certificate Standards and requirements which are regularly inspected and so have consumer confidence.
  4. Agricultural technicians and agronomists supervise the Cooperatives’ plantations.
  5. SOPPEXCCA’s farmers work with the environment. They are encouraged to grow other crops, both as for healthy consumption, but also for selling in local markets and even exporting. Bananas, orchard fruit, maize and organic honey, are crucial cash crops as well as providing vital vitamins for families and for food security.
  6. Nicaragua is well off for water and forests, but climate change of just a few degrees can have a dramatic impact on coffee production, the main cash crop. Fortunately, cocoa grows well in the fertile, volcanic soil and fills in most of the income gap. Plots devoted to bananas, mangoes, and other diversified fruit provide more than self-sufficiency – diverse income streams. Annatto is an orange-red food coloring or condiment made from the seeds of the achiote tree.
  7. A group of enterprising women, using part of the Fairtrade Premium have utilized local organic beekeeping to combine the honey with the maize to produce a grain energy bar. They were aided by marketing help from a female entrepreneur in Ireland who advised on marketing. These energy bars are also sold in their plantation cafe. Unsold fruit along with washed coffee sludge is dried and bagged for organic fertilizer for Cooperative members.
  8. Fairtrade Premiums have been invested in community health projects over the years, including a free health clinic for workers and regular cancer checks.
  9. A holistic approach is adopted with guaranteed Fairtrade coffee and cocoa prices ironing out fluctuations in world prices and allowing farmers to plan for the future for cash crops. The Fairtrade Premium also encourages fledgling income diversity and local ripple effect industries to provide new revenue streams, some of which are very intuitive.

Notes Produced by:
Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade     

University of Bath’s Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations 2020 – Part 2 of 3

Louise Whitaker; Group Support Manager, Bewley’s UK

Visit to the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative in Nicaragua and Unlocking the power of Women in Coffee.

Louise began her presentation by stating that over 125 million people in 70 countries worldwide rely on coffee as the main cash crop. However, the coffee plant does not like quick changes in growing conditions and is largely intolerant of progressive temperature increases. Coffee is also very labour intensive and prone to pests and fungal diseases. Coffee seedlings take 4 to 5 years to produce in nurseries before any coffee cherries grow on the bush. The first crop is discarded before the best cherries mature. When ripe, the cherries are hand-picked, sorted, and then de-pulped to obtain the two green coffee beans in each cherry. The green coffee beans are then place in the sun to dry for 3 – 7 days and  turned regularly.

Women provide much of the labour in what are often male-dominated societies, as well as looking after the children, cooking, collecting water, shopping, or running small businesses in local markets

Louise referred to a newly published ICO document examining gender equality and climate change.

When women have access to finance, credit, training, and are involved in the decision making processes of the cooperative, women tend to save more money than men as well as direct more of that finance to providing for the family.

Members of the SOPPEXCCA Cooperative pay to be part of the Fairtrade auditing scheme to have the certification logo on their coffee and cocoa products. Fairtrade membership entitlements include:-

  • Gender equality
  • Equal pay for men and women
  • One member one vote on business and community project decisions
  • Access to credit – (a holistic approach is taken)
  • Women managers and leaders act as “role models” in the cooperative expanding the narrative
  • Money provides for school bags, paper, pens,  and child uniforms even though state education is free
  • Children can then aspire to colleges and universities for professional training
  • With credit, women can start their own coffee or small businesses.

e.g. women collect organic honey from bees and combine this with home grown maize to produce energy bars, which are sold locally in markets, shops and even exported

  • This in turn provides access to more credit e.g. $10,000 for marketing of biscuits and energy bars. A wheel begins to role and gather pace, so creating a new mini-enterprise

Positive factors

There is a clear role for women in businesses as well as community, empowering and enhancing their status, closing the gender gap. Women work hard in the production of coffee but can create quite innovative enterprises which diversify the economy based on local conditions and advantages. Women understand the relationship of their work with the land and the environment and can help fight climate change.

During her 2018 visit to SOPPEXCCA Cooperative, Louise met a number of women with interesting stories to tell about improving their economic opportunities  as well social and community benefits, once they have access to credit, they become entrepreneurs and role models. Money has also come from Melissa Gates and the Hilary Clinton Foundations.

Greta: 90% of her income was directed to her family, improving diet, health and education opportunities. She works in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Farmers would lose money if their coffee were not sold under Fairtrade terms. Being involved in both business and community decision making means inclusion and empowerment for women in SOPPEXCCA. The current General manager of the cooperative is Fatima Ismael, who is responsible for over 800 individual coffee farmers.

Rosa: listed a number of advantages since she became a smallholder. Land can now be registered in a woman’s name, and encourages economic diversity and the setting up of micro-businesses apart from growing the cash crop – coffee. Gender equality is established as well as young people can see the improvements and realize that farming can offer a living wage and a future.

Maxima: Her coffee is sold under the Women’s coffee label – “Sisters. The Fairtrade money earned is allocated to school equipment for her children. With the low coffee prices, she has stated growing cocoa as a main cash crop. Cocoa benefits include:-

  • Stable higher income than coffee and is viewed as a “buffer” crop
  • Grows all the year round
  • Provides more money out of the coffee harvest season
  • Has started to make her own chocolate bars
  • Cocoa grows well at lower levels on land formally used for coffee production
  • She is seen as a role model for other female producers
  • Mutual skill sharing and utilizing cross-product marketing.

      Myrtle: She established a small cafe on her coffee growing land and taught herself to become a     barista by studying at weekends.

Climate change has a human cost as well as an immediate environmental crop.

Notes Produced by:
Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade     

University of Bath’s Fairtrade Fortnight celebrations 2020 – Part 1 of 3

Barney Smyth; Acting Senior Partnership Manager, Fairtrade Foundation. 1.45 pm.

Explored 2 Questions about Fairtrade.

What makes Fairtrade certification unique?

Why do Fairtrade producers, buyers and end consumers have faith in the Fairtrade logo.

  1. Minimum price for a product e.g. coffee is paid to producers which irons out the world market price peaks and troughs. Eliminating these price fluctuations means that producers can plan ahead, and Fairtrade buyers know that coffee has been grown on Fairtrade terms. Currently Fairtrade farmers are paid $1.40 per pound of coffee. The current world price is between $1.00 and $1.20. This minimum price guarantee is paid when coffee prices rise. The Fairtade price is always 20 cents above the global coffee price. This Fairtrade price covers the costs of sustainable and environmentally friendly production.
  2. Fairtrade farmers and producers receive an additional Fairtrade Premium on top of the selling price. This is usually another 1% of the value of the products. The producer cooperative workers, who know their own needs, can then decide to allocate this funding to:
    – social projects
    – improving community infrastructure
    – Investing in a health centre
    – buying in training and education
    – building schools
    – improving their businesses with new equipment
    – Workers are thus empowered and can take control of their own livelihoods.
  3. The Fairtrade logo is a recognised kitemark and reflects uniform assessment by FLOCERT, the independent WFTO body that assesses farmers; producers; suppliers; traders; and wholesalers that rigorous standards have been met and that regular inspections are made to trace and prove product traceability.

Barney Smith presented some interesting Fairtrade Foundation Statistics –

Fairtrade has been going for over 25years
– 90% of people in the UK recognize the Fairtrade logo
– 87% of people in the UK trust the logo
– 76% of people in the UK care about the third party/independent certification process
– 76% of people in the UK care about Fairtrade producers and farmers
– 76% of people in the UK actively seek and choose Fairtrade products

Why Fairtrade makes such a big difference?

  • Producers and farmers have a guaranteed income
  • They have decent working conditions
  • There is no child or forced labour
  • Men and women receive equal pay, empowering both genders
  • Fairtrade suppliers establish long-term working relationships with producer cooperatives
  • There are social, economic, and environmental benefits of belonging to a Fairtrade cooperative
  • The cost of belonging Fairtrade certified cooperative includes many other benefits such as technical and agricultural training  for farmers and a chance to belong to network groups

Fairtrade Coffee Cooperative Statistics 2019

  • There are 582 Fairtrade coffee cooperatives located in Latin America, Africa, and SE Asia
  • 762,000 farmers growing and selling Fairtrade coffee.
  • 86% of all Fairtrade coffee originates from Central and South America
  • Fairtrade coffee production is worth in excess of 84 million Euros.
  • 18% of Fairtrade coffee growers are women.

In a short accompanying video, one coffee grower stated that “Coffee is our life”, and more farmers need to sell coffee on Fairtrade terms where the environmental costs are factored in to the end price. The guaranteed price of Fairtrade coffee irons out the huge fluctuations in the market price.

“Climate change is a huge threat to livelihoods” but that farmers will have to adapt.

Notes Produced by:
Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade

High Wycombe Fairtrade Churches & Faith Groups “Think Tank” – 7th March 2020

Location: Christ The Servant King Church

Heather Searle from CSK opened the event attended by people from 5 local Wycombe churches by giving a very appropriate sermon on the biblical values of helping people less fortunate than oneself with relevant passages from the Old and New Testaments, transferring those caring and sharing values to the present time and comparing these to the principles promoted by the Fairtrade Foundation.

Margaret Dykes, a local and noted Traidcraft representative and speaker highlighted her experiences of 25 years working with one of the founder members of the Fairtrade organization and her work and projects with schools and churches, promoting the values and dedication that farmers and growers inject into their products. She described what the Fairtrade mark means to producers who are trying to trade their way out of poverty in an economic system which is dominated by large transnational companies who largely adopt unfair business practices.

Angharad Hopkinson, the Fairtrade Churches and Faith Groups Coordinator from the Fairtrade Foundation gave a presentation entitled “Changing the Story”. The talk encompassed biblical passages and themes which related to present day social justice and human rights e.g. “The spoil of the poor are in your houses” (Isaiah 3). She drew attention to the UK chocolate industry currently worth in excess of £4 billion per annum, yet cocoa farmers in the Cote D’Ivoire earn less than $1 per day. She reflected on the verse from Matthew 22 – “You should love your neighbour as yourself”. There were stories from African cocoa farmers like Lucia and Theresa who both lived in extreme poverty until they joined the local Fairtrade Cava Cooperative. Theresa stated that “When I am selling my cocoa through Cava Cooperative, the price is requested (guaranteed)”, and Lucia added that “Cocoa is our hope”. Fairtrade gives people dignity, respect, economic guarantees and the Fairtrade Premium provides schooling and higher education for their children She closed by saying that in a recent report by Oxfam in 2019 entitled, ”Time to Care” –  “The world’s 22 richest men have more combined wealth than all 325 million women in Africa”. A sobering thought!

Maranda St.John Nicolle

Waiting printed notes – No powerpoint

Mike King’s illustrated powerpoint presentation highlighted the threats imposed by climate change to small-scale Fairtrade farmers and producers in developing countries. Drought; floods; desertification; melting glaciers and ice caps; uncertain rainfall; and the increase in greenhouse gases over the last three decades are all impacting on agricultural producers, even though they have not caused the underlying reasons for climate change. However, with years of experience on their land, soil preservation measures, water retention, tree planting, crop diversification, and the introduction of quicker-growing disease resistant seeds and hybrid plants, and the agronomic expertise from Fairtrade; World Coffee Research Institute; IRRI; and World Trade Organisation researchers themselves, small scale farmers are quick to adapt to changing conditions and adopt appropriate technology. With sustainable and organic farming methods predominating, the use of hybrid plants and careful husbandry, farmers are in a position to slow down climate change through these practices by becoming custodians of the land as well as living and working in harmony with nature.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 – Wycombe

Events attended and arranged by Wycombe Fairtrade Steering Group 23rd Feb to Sun 7th March

Monday 2nd March 2020.

Mike King attended an event at Bath University jointly sponsored by Bath University; Bewley’s UK; Bristol Link to Nicaragua; and the Students Union of Bath University. There were a series of presentations and talks by  Rob Smyth, from the Fairtrade Foundation about the current situation on Fairtrade coffee; a female coffee grower from the Nicaraguan Fairtrade coffee producer SOPPEXCCA, a union of 18 coffee cooperatives. Gloria focused on the challenges to female coffee growers and their resilience and invention to develop new products through adversity. Louise Whitaker from Bewley’s UK, a national wholesaler and coffee roaster., gave a very informative address looking at the valuable role women play in Fairtrade, and especially in the growing of coffee and developing community spirit and harmony and even becoming managers of their own coffee land and developing their own sidelines, diversifying the economy anas well as ensuring money was funding local education, health, and social projects.

Thursday 5th March 2020

This Traidcraft Coffee Boffin Quiz  took place at the Christ The Servant King Church, Open Door Cafe for retired people and those with learning difficulties. The Quiz was well received with 25 to 30 people working in small groups and teams. Sustained by Fairtrade coffee, tea , and biscuits, the groups were very engaged and improved their knowledge of coffee varieties, the many hazards of growing coffee, and the wide diversity of flavours. The first three winners received Fairtrade chocolate, biscuits and of course. Fairtrade coffee.

Sunday 8th March 2020

Traidcraft stall run by Sheena and Mike King raised over £500.00 as well as selling and taking orders for Fairtrade Meaningful Chocolate Company Easter eggs. As usual the clergy and the parishioners were very supportive of the Fairtrade cause and bought a range of goods. Fairtrade bamboo socks were very popular.

Saturday 7th March 2020

Christ The Servant king Church in conjunction with the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group  hosted a “Fairtrade Churches and Fairth Groups Think Tank” event from 10.30am to 1.00 pm. The purpose was to encourage members from other church groups to think about Fairtrade in its wider and deeper aspects, especially what the scriptures say about helping the poor and those in need. Corona virus threats and a conflicting church event in High Wycombe meant that only around 24 people attended from 5 different churches. Heather Searle led a 20-minute service and gave a very pertinent talk about people help themselves with a little encouragement. Speakers ranged from Margaret Dykes talking about her Traidcraft experiences over 25 years; Angharad Hopkinson, focusing on how to “Change the Story” of poverty using biblical references  from Isaiah 3 and Matthew 22. Two female cocoa farmers stated that Fairtrade had through the local Cava Cooperative, a sense of dignity, guaranteed incomes, and the chance to invest in health and education for their children. It was a message of hope. Maranda St John Nicolle echoed this hope by relating her perspectives and experiences in her tours of Southern Africa representing Christian Concern for One World. It is a Christian duty to help others and a theme promoted by other world religions. Finally Mike King looked at the current and future affects of climate change upon small-scale Fairtrade farmers in developing countries, both the negative and positive, and their responses to this in adapting decades of local knowledge of the land while applying appropriate technology. Although small in numbers, people seemed to have been informed and understood the deeper and wider social, economic, ecological, cultural and religious aspects that Fairtrade encompasses.

We would like to see

  • More Churches and Faith Groups in High Wycombe apply to the Fairtrade Foundation for registering as a Fairtrade Church/Faith Group.
  • Engage with more young people from a variety of faiths to get involved with Fairtrade projects, maybe in relation to schools.
  • More churches to have sessions like this or repeat them every one or two years.
  • Liaise more with and utilize online resources from the Churches and Faith Groups Coordinator from the Fairtrade Foundation.
  • Work with other churches in Wycombe to broaden the understanding of Fairtrade and what it means to the produces and farmers.
  • In trying to link the Fairtrade Towns of Wycombe and Grecia (Costa Rica), work towards linking some churches and congregations together.

Mike King
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade

“Fairtrade Think Tank” on 7th March 2020

Churches and Faith Groups “Fairtrade Think Tank” Event at Christ the Servant King Church,

Sycamore Road, Booker, High Wycombe on Saturday 7th March 2020. 10.30am to 1.00pm

Programme and Speakers

10.30  – 10.45 am – Fairtrade Coffee,Tea, and Biscuits.

10.45 – 11.05am  – Fairtrade Church Service (Heather Searle)

11.05am  – 11.30 am -“Traidcraft: a Christian Approach to Fair Trade” (Margaret Dykes OBE: Traidcraft)  20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Margaret received an OBE in 2015 for services to charity and community groups in her home village of Chalfont St Giles. She has 28 years of experience with Traidcraft, a charity linked to the Fairtrade movement, and is a prolific public speaker at schools now that Fairtrade is taught in the national curriculum.

11.30 am – 12.00 noon“What does it mean to be a Fairtrade church? Looking back, looking forward”(Maranda St John Nicolle: Oxford Fair Trade Coalition; CCOW) 20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Maranda is the Director of Christian Concern for One World. She is also seconded by CCOW to the Diocese of Oxford for two days a week, serving as World Development Adviser and Partners in World Mission Project Officer. She is also on the steering groups of the International Anglican Family Network and the Oxford Fair Trade Coalition.

12.05 pm – 12.35pm‘Faith’s place in the Fairtrade Movement’ (Angharad Hopkinson; Fairtrade Foundation Churches & Faith Groups Campaigns and Policy Officer) 20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Since March 2019, Angharad has been the Campaigns and Policy Officer for Churches and faith Groups at the Fairtrade Foundation. Her degree from the London School of Economics was in Environment and Development Studies. She has also media experience with campaigning for Age UK and Green Alliance.

12.35 pm – 1.00 pm“Fairtrade: The Impact of Climate Change” (Mike King: Chairman: Wycombe For Fairtrade) 20 minute presentation followed by questions/discussion.

Mike was an Academic Librarian for over 28 years and has a BA (Hons) in Regional Development Studies. Initially supporting the Trade Justice and Jubilee 2000 movements, he has been Chairman of the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group since its inception in 2008, attending three International Fairtrade Towns Conferences.

1.00pm – Close

Politicon Event held at John Hampden Grammar School, 15th February 2020

This well-populated and extremely well-organized event attracted over 17 stall/stand holders covering the areas of the environment, economics, politics and community issues.

One of the first people to approach the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group information stall was a Ms.S.Neal, a senior teacher at JHGS responsible for business enterprise, economics, and RS. She stated that Fairtrade was now an element in the curricula for business enterprise and economics. She had some great ideas for expanding Fairtrade into the students’ summer projects as well as having a first Fairtrade Stall during Fairtrade Fortnight 2020. It was very reassuring and encouraging to hear that Fairtrade forms part of various subject curricula at many age group levels.

I have sent Ms Neal the email and contact details for Margaret Dykes, the local Traidcraft representative, to provide a range of Fairtrade products for either a forthcoming stall during Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 or during World Fair Trade Day/Week 2020. I also gave her a booklet from the Fairtrade Foundation about registering and achieving Fairtrade School status, reflecting there were no currently registered Fairtrade schools in the High Wycombe area. She also requested a copy of the recent Fairtrade Foundation pull-out brochure/poster – “The Story of Fairtrade Cocoa” for one of her younger age-group business enterprise and economics classes.

In addition to boys and their parents, girls were invited to attend the Politicon event from the nearby Wycombe High School. Three “clued-up” students spent some time talking to Jhon and myself and indicated there was a teacher at the school “very interested” about Fairtrade. One of them informed us of a new “ethical cafe” recently opened in the small business and artisan area opposite Aldi, in one of the former shipping containers called “Tones”. I will check this out next week. 

I think that this was the first time Wycombe Fairtrade have met and talked with a Secondary school/grammar school teacher who was very interested in the subject of Fairtrade and its off-shoots into sustainability, organic production, social solidarity economics, and small business practices. It was an amazing and remarkable contact after many years of previously fruitless efforts to find a potential champion teacher which certainly justified W4FT presence at this event. I am sure that she will be a very useful contact to develop over the year. Given her portfolio of subject responsibilities, I think that she will have a narrow window of opportunity to work with us during term time and develop JHGS Fairtrade inputs, but I have offered the Steering Group’s support and backing.

This meeting with Ms Neal could provide a springboard into developing exciting links and contacts with schools in Grecia specifically and in Costa Rica as a whole as well as providing places for future field courses in the subjects of:-
a) Business b) Enterprise c) Economics d) Language exchanges of students learning Spanish or English, and setting up Facebook communication for e-frindships.

Jhon was replaced by Sarah Moroz around 7.00 pm.

Thank you to Jhon and Sarah for giving up part of their evening in helping me to set up and dismantle the W4FT stall, which had many updated Fairtrade Foundation posters and leaflets, stickers, the Fairtrade Town banner, our new A1 poster, and material and products from Grecia and CoopeVictoria.Costa Rica. This education, community, and business enterprise aspect could form the basis of a reciprocal project in Grecia and CoopeVictoria in future.

A seed has certainly been sown, but these are early days, and the drivers here are the schools, interested and influential teachers, and the amount of time they can devote to this.

Mike King,
Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade.



Minutes of 7th January 2020

Location:

Micklefield Library, Micklefield Road

Those present

Mike King
Jhon Munoz
Sarah Moroz
Tony Thornby
Sheena King
Ivan Cicin-Sain – Wycombe Friends of the Earth
Steve Morton – Wycombe Friends of the Earth “
Angus Massie
Bob Smith

Air raid cafe seems to be still open.

MK – also went to the Coffee Lounge. Although they don’t have the Fairtrade logo, their coffee is ethically sourced. MK spoke to the manager.

The FT renewal certificate was shown round. MK will put it in a photo frame ready for the presentation event.

TT – Wycombe District Council will be dissolving in April.

MK – Matt Knight thinks that there will be a Town Council for Wycombe. MK met Trevor Snaith in the Coffee Lounge and he thought the same.

I C-S – Wyc FOE are trying to launch a climate action group.

St M – Nationally FOE has a climate action group which feeds into government and includes individuals who are not FOE members.

I C-S – Wyc FOE are trying to form an alliance of individuals/groups to campaign for action on climate change.

St M – there is a Facebook group also working on this. Next Tuesday there is a group launching in Aylesbury to lobby the new county authority re: the climate emergency.

MK – suggests that Wycombe for Fairtrade could be involved in this joint effort. Everyone voted for this.

JM – Costa Rica are taking practical action to tackle climate change

MK – the all-party committee for Central America haven’t met for many months. During the meeting with the Costa Rican ambassador the possibility of forming a committee for Costa Rica on its own was discussed.

MK/JM would both like to go to the Wyc FOE meeting next Thursday evening to discuss the joint group on climate change.

St M – the more people involved, the more leverage there would be with local government.

TT – a company is producing bricks from recycled material – prevents a lot going to landfill. There is also a company who are working on an electric aeroplane fleet.

MK – Bucks New Uni have plans for their volunteers week. Handing out FT bananas and ‘Smile Week’. They are also arranging to have a speaker from Bewleys. They have about 125 students they can call on in the Sustainability etc group

JM – it was a very useful meeting with Costa Rican ambassador. He wanted to talk about a wide range of topics involving environmental action in Costa Rica in general. He was also talking about engaging with local politicians and about setting up an all-party parliamentary group for Costa Rica.

MK – It would be really good if the ambassador could meet with the new Wycombe Town Council. The ambassador was very interested in what we have done with the linking model. He said that there is lots of potential for increasing trade with Costa Rica. He suggested targeting new Tory MPs in northern seats. The meeting lasted about 3 hours.

JM – the ambassador came from the Grecia area and knew the mayor and Co-op Victoria.

MK – re: FT Fortnight. JM and TT are willing to go on Wyc Sound radio with MK.

The presentation event is on Jan 21st. MK will do a shortened version of his climate presentation. It would be a good opportunity to get signatures on a document to support the idea of a partnership between the Grecia and Wycombe. There will be refreshments after the presentation and before the rest of the council meeting.

The churches/faith groups think-tank on FT is booked for 7th March. MK showed a poster. 3 speakers are arranged – Margaret Dykes, Angorad Hopkinson (the head person for faith and churches at the FT Foundation) and Mike (the effect of climate change on FT). Heather will lead a FT service at the end. Heather has lots of links with local churches. It may also be possible for Maranda St John Nicholle to be there (Christian Concern for One World).

TT – on the poster for this event, please can people be encouraged to join our Facebook group – also at the event itself.

MK – our website is looking really good, many thanks to TT

TT – need to get better at reporting on what we have done.

BS – the Avenue church is now up and running again, following the repairs.

SM – re: if other faith groups are also being invited, we may need to make the poster inclusive of them.

MK – re: the John Hampden Politicon event 6 – 8.30pm on 13th Feb. We will have a stall there.

MK – showed a proposed poster for use at events to promote ourselves – showing how we are campaigning on the 5 goals for a FT Town. Suggested it is printed on display board (foam inner) on A2 size. We would have to get a company to do this.

TT – has links with companies who could do this.

TT – the most recent work he has done is to bring our website up to date. We need to be more proactive in advertising events. If we set up a Facebook group then we can send invites to everyone in the group.

JM – we need to find ways of increasing our income. A lady from the Bristol FT group said they are a CIC (Community Interest Company) legal entity – can then get funding from businesses and government eg DFID. JM suggested we may be able to do something similar.

St M – Wycombe FOE get income from membership fees. It may be worth talking to James MacDonald (Friends of the Wye) to see where they get their funding from.

SK – there will be Traidcraft stall at the churches event on 7th March and at Christ the Servant King church the next day.

TT – has spoken to his church, Kings Church, about becoming a FT church – they use Kingdom Coffee but don’t seem to know that it is FT.

Next meeting: 11th February at Ivan’s at 8pm

Costa Rican Ambassador to the UK visit to High Wycombe Tuesday 21st January 2020

Following on from a speculative email and an invitation to the Costa Rican Embassy in December 2019, Ambassador Ortiz and his wife came to High Wycombe on Tuesday 21st January 2020 to present the High Wycombe Fairtrade Foundation Town Renewal Certificate November 2019 – Nov 2021 to the Mayor of High Wycombe, Councillor Mazamal Hussain, during the Wycombe Charter Town Trustees Executive meeting.

During an agenda item, Ambassador Rafael Ortiz addressed the Charter Trustee Executives in the Council Chamber, stating his wholehearted support for the principles of the Fairtrade movement in general. Fairtrade was directly responsible for over 20% of Costa Rica’s national income. He also praised the work of the High Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group in particular, focusing on developing and promoting a spirit of cooperation, friendship, and establishing a working relationship with the Fair Trade Town of Grecia in north-central Costa Rica, in addition to linking with the neighbouring and largest Fair Trade organic coffee and sugar producer, CoopeVictoria. This cooperative group has over 3000 farmers who benefit directly from Fairtrade’s guaranteed coffee prices and income, utilize sustainable and organic farming practices, have excellent green renewable energy credentials, and invest their Fairtrade premium back into their businesses as well as fund community projects such a building a new school for migrant worker’s children and funding classroom teachers.

During an interval in the meeting in the Mayor’s Parlour, Ambassador Ortiz presented the Fairtrade Foundation Town Renewal Certificate to the Mayor of High Wycombe. There was a reporter and photographer from the Bucks free Press, as well as many other photo opportunities with the Deputy Mayor of High Wycombe, Matt Knight and members of the Wycombe Fairtrade Steering Group shaking hands with the Ambassador and his wife. The Costa Rican Ambassador was invited to sit in the historical Mayoral Weighing Chair, where the “Wycombe is a Fairtrade Town” banner provided an effective back-drop.  This very exciting, sociable and mutually rewarding evening celebration was enhanced by sampling various types of Fairtrade wine, soft drinks and snacks in the Mayor’s Parlour.

One of our Steering Group members then escorted the Ambassador and his wife to the station to catch their return train to London.

Mike King,

Chairman, Wycombe Fairtrade.