Visit of Maria Angela Zamora Chaves from CoopeVictoria Fairtrade Cooperative, Grecia, Costa Rica to High Wycombe 16th-18th Oct 2019
Invited to High Wycombe by the Mayor of Wycombe (Maz Hussain) and the Deputy Mayor of High Wycombe (Matt Knight), Maria Angela Zamora Chaves was a guest of the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group for 2 days arriving in High Wycombe on Tuesday 15th October 2019.
Maria Angela Zamora Chaves, is a University Business Studies Lecturer as well as being the Coordinator of Social Responsibility and Cooperative Education in CoopeVictoria, a Fairtrade organic coffee and sugar producer group, she was also representing the local Fairtrade Town and Mayor of Grecia in Costa Rica.
First stop on the High Wycombe tour was to take Maria to experience a full English breakfast at the Hills Community Cafe in Micklefield, which also offered a range of Fairtrade coffees and speciality teas. We also met some of the customers including a Spanish speaking couple. Maria was particularly impressed with the community aspect of this inclusive social enterprise cafe and the range of events involving young people and those with mental health problems. Maria was determined to adopt this model and open a similar cafe in Grecia, funded through the Fairtrade Premiums.
Later on during the morning of Wednesday 17th October, Jhon and Mike showed Maria around the town and took her to some of the sites like the Parish Church, the Town Hall, Pann Mill watermill, the Rye Park, and the Red Lion in the High Street. We also fitted in a range of Fairtrade shops, supermarkets, independent cafes, the local Oxfam shop, as well as looking around the Fairtrade and ethical clothes and craft shop, Ruby Moon. Maria was very impressed with the range and quantity of Fairtrade products available in Wycombe retailers and cafes generally.
After a very nice lunch in the Air Raid Shelter Cafe sampling Grumpy Mule Fairtrade coffee from the Wycombe wholesaler Bewley’s. Maria liked the food as much as the 1940’s decor, ambience and atmosphere, and the entrance to the Air Raid Shelter provided a good photo opportunity for her colleagues back in Grecia.
We took Maria to the Town Hall to meet the Mayor (Maz) and Deputy Mayor (Matt) in the Mayor’s Parlour from 3.00pm to 4.30pm. ( Please See: Mayor and Deputy Mayor meeting document for further details).
Later on that evening, 5 members of the Steering Group met Maria for a social gathering and meal in the Chiltern Taps restaurant. Maria enjoyed tasting local real ales and a typically English meal of fish and chips. It was a very enjoyable and fun evening.
Jhon and Mike took Maria on Thursday 18th November to the Cressex Industrial Estate for a booked appointment with Louise Whitaker, the Group Sustainability Manager from Bewley’s UK. This was a very productive meeting during which Maria Angelaexplained the background of CoopeVictoria and their track record of community funded projects, sustainability, recycling, and engagement with children in formal education. Much of CoopeVictoria’s coffee is organic and 64% exported to European markets, although not directly to the UK at the moment. CoopeVictoria had introduced a “Meeting the Producers” tour for foreign visitors, which Louise thought an excellent idea. Bewley’s were currently testing the quality of their “green” coffee beans with a view to possibly market this as a speciality coffee in the near future.
Between 2.00pm and 2.15pm, we managed to fit in a live radio broadcast on John Murphy’s afternoon Wycombe Sound show. Maria Angela largely spoke Spanish which Jhon Munoz translated into English. They and Mike King discussed the concept of Fairtrade generally as well as the links the Wycombe Fairtrade Steering Group have enacted between High Wycombe Council and the Fairtrade town of Grecia in Costa Rica, but also the work we have done linking with the Fairtrade cooperative group CoopeVictoria and in turn acting as a conduit between them and our Fairtrade Flagship employer in Wycombe, Bewley’s UK.
There were a number of other possibilities for the future linking between Grecia and High Wycombe in terms of business, eco-tourism, history and culture, as well as in secondary and graduate education for language student and two-way teacher exchanges.
Mike King, Chairman Wycombe For Fairtrade