I would like to welcome both existing Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group personnel and all interested members of the public to our 15th September 2020 Annual General Meeting. This is the first AGM that we have held for a number of years and in so doing, the first one to take place online due to the COVID-19 measures, which have prevented physical gatherings in public venues.
Firstly, I would like to thank all existing members of the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group for their collective time, hard work, dedication, and ideas over a number of years that have propelled Wycombe For Fairtrade to achieve things that a few years ago would have been impossible, not only that, but developed on a regional, national and global stage. I will allude to specific examples in the main section of the report with Fairtrade Town linking with Grecia in Costa Rica, delivering a joint workshop and lecture with Maria Angela from CoopeVictoria, signing a friendship & cooperation agreement, and getting support from the Ambassador of Costa Rica in the UK.
Secondly, I would like to thank the individuals personally:
- To Sheena for her unwavering support, acting as a sounding board, and where necessary, pacifying my temper! Sarah has been a rock of support from the start of the Group in 2008 and has proved to be a diligent and excellent Secretary.
- Jhon Munoz has provided energy and inspiration along with his Spanish language skills in our international liaison involvement, without which links with Grecia and CoopeVictoria would not have been possible or have progressed with such speed and depth.
- Tony Thornby has brought his web marketing skills to the fore and has managed our new look website to reflect our interests, document our achievements, and promote our events along with other social media. He is currently progressing Group email accounts, one for the general public enquiries, and another for Steering Group and Fairtrade matters.
- Bob Smith, (probably listening out of sight), regularly attended our Committee meetings and turned out to support all our events, even supplying a gazebo on one occasion on the Rye! A Fairtrade flowerbed in Wycombe for next summer would be a fitting tribute to Bob’s gardening skills. His wife Maggie, has also attended many events, getting signatures for petitions and engaging the public.
- Ivan has kept the Group up-to-date with Wycombe Friends of the Earth and Population Matters events and issues. These very much parallel the Fairtrade Foundation’s recognition of the UN Sustainablility Goals. Sustainability; environment; and gender equality, are all essential goals for Fairtrade certified farmers and producers. Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat and it was good to support Ivan’s Climate Change Comedian evening last October. It was very witty as well as our stall made around £40.00!
- Thanks to Angus for keeping us abreast of church and faith group Fairtrade events and issues over the year. The Coronavirus outbreak has obviously curtailed church services and events with a public presence. However, whenever COVID -19 abates, I wonder if we could work together to collate a united Wycombe Churches Fairtrade response to getting church leaders to have more Fairtrade themed services; events; liaison; engagement with young people; as well as encouraging them to apply for the new Fairtrade Church certification for 2021.
Wycombe for Fairtrade: Activities & Achievements
It has probably been the most successful and amazing year ever for the Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group, both internationally and locally. Jhon and I were busy in mid-2019 preparing the groundwork for a future Global Fairtrade North – South Town relationship between High Wycombe and Grecia in Central Costa Rica along with the neighbouring Fairtrade producer co-operative, CoopeVictoria. Talks, emails and phone calls resulted in Maria Angela, the Sustainability Manager from CoopeVictoria visiting High Wycombe at the invitation of the Mayor of High Wycombe and Wycombe Fairtrade. We showed her the range of Fairtrade products available in High Wycombe, she had a productive meeting with the Mayors, showing a recorded video of Mainor, the Mayor of Grecia, promoting the Wycombe Grecia link; as well as taking her to Matt’s Hills Cafe in Micklefield, a good example of a community network and business run for the benefit of the local residents and groups. Maria also found time to speak on a live Wycombe Sound on-air interview and had a meeting with Louise Whitaker, the Group Sustainability Manager at Bewley’s UK.
Jhon, Maria, Sheena, myself, and Matt Knight, the Deputy Mayor, attended the 2019 International Fairtrade Towns Conference in Cardiff in October. We jointly delivered a workshop and seminar supported by a powerpoint presentation of how to go about linking Fairtrade Towns in the Global North, e.g. High Wycombe, (consumers), by creating a relationship with a producer economy and business town in the Global South, Grecia and CoopeVictoria in Costa Rica, based on the research work by Marco Coscione of the WFTO. We had 15 people from the convention taking part and suggesting ideas and linking themes. This was the first time Wycombe For Fairtrade had delivered an address at the IFTTC and Matt Knight formally announced this Fairtrade relationship between Wycombe and Grecia at the close of Saturday’s business.
Further work progressed this relationship through early 2020 until Wycombe Fairtrade drafted a Fairtrade Town “Friendship and Cooperation Agreement” based on Fairtrade principles between High Wycombe, Grecia and CoopeVictoria. Frequent joint Teams and Skype meetings took place to work out the final wording until a final draft in English and Spanish was agreed and signed by the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Wycombe; the Mayor of Grecia at the time (Mainor Molina); the Chairman of Wycombe For Fairtrade; and the new Director of CoopeVictoria in time for Mainor’s last day in office.
In October 2019, Wycombe For Fairtrade successfully renewed its Fairtrade Town status until November 2021. A speculative email to the Ambassador of Costa Rica to the UK resulted in an invitation to the Costa Rican Embassy in London. Jhon and I had a 3.5 hour meeting with Ambassador Ortiz who duly accepted our invitation to present the Fairtrade Foundation Town Renewal Certificate to Maz Hussain, the Mayor of Wycombe on 21st January 2020,. He also addressed the Charter Town Trustees, highlighting the importance of Fairtrade and the relationship of Wycombe with the town of Grecia. We had Fairtrade wine and snacks in the Mayor’s Parlour to celebrate the occasion and took many photographs. We have sent images of the signed document Agreement in Spanish and English to put into the Costa Rica Embassy reception at the request of the Ambassador.
Attending the POLITICON event in February 2020 at John Hampden Grammar School, Jhon, Sarah, and Mike helped set up our information table with the A2 poster taking centre stage of our display stand. Apart from general Fairtrade leaflets, we also had Grecia and CoopeVictoria booklets, information, and display packs of coffee beans in various stages of processing which attracted onlookers. The highlight of the evening was the approach by a JHGS teacher, Steffi Neal, who taught Business Studies and Economics, and was keen to develop a Fairtrade
element in the curriculum as an example of a solidarity economic model and give her pupils projects involving sustainability, environmentalism and “green issues”, no better displayed than in the country of Costa Rica. She also mentioned that her equivalent teachers at Wycombe High School may also be interested along with Spanish language teachers at these schools. Post-coronavirus, there seems to be a good opportunity to exploit these areas and work towards forging links between High Wycombe secondary schools and their counterparts in Grecia.
Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 Events and Activities
A 35-minute live on-air interview with Wycombe Sound radio started our events, which largely focused on our new relationship with Grecia and CoopeVictoria in Costa Rica. We also had a Zoom meeting to exchange ideas and promote each other’s activities. There was also a successful two-day Coffee Boffin Quiz at Christ The Servant King Church during Open Door cafe mornings and setting up a Traidcraft stall for the weekend. The highlight was liaising with CSK Church to jointly organize and host a “Fairtrade Churches and Faith Groups Think Tank” on Saturday 7th March 2020.There were a range of speakers including Heather Searle, who gave
a 15-minute sermon and service on Fairtrade principles in the Bible; Anghared from the Fairtrade Foundation; Maranda St.John Nicoll from Christian Concern for One World and Margaret Dykes from Traidcraft. Mike King delivered a powerpoint covering the “Impact of Climate Change on Fairtrade producers and communities”.
Only 20 people attended the seminars but they were thoroughly engaged. This occurred a few days prior to the Government’s introduction of COVID-19 lockdown measures.
It was also the first outing of Wycombe For Fairtrade’s newly produced Publisher A2 poster depicting development links and progress with Grecia and CoopeVictoria as well as our joint presence at the IFTTC in Cardiff. This was displayed at the BNU Volunteer Week Fairtrade Breakfast over two days at Wycombe Campus of Bucks New University. It received many favourable comments where it was displayed prominently on a counter in the Student’s Lounge. We talked to several groups of A level pupils both here and from Wycombe Abbey Girls School who seemed reasonably clued up on Fairtrade and its purpose. International World Fairtrade Weekend 2020 Events and Activities
On International Fair Trade Day, 9th May 2020 for the first time, I managed to book a live 25-minute on-air slot with Wycombe Sound at 11.30 in the morning, to outline the purpose of Fairtrade, to show that it is in fact part of free trade market forces but operates to give producers guaranteed prices and that the extra premium is invested in infrastructure and local businesses to the benefit of their communities. I also emphasised our International Fairtrade links with Grecia and CoopeVictoria in Costa Rica and that a signed “Fairtrade Cooperation and Friendship Agreement” had been signed in late April forging a link with High Wycombe in a post European Union world.
Jhon Munoz took part in a Spanish Language Teams/Skype online discussion with CLAC, CoopeVictoria and Grecia, and was the only representative from a UK (Global North Town). Wycombe again was at the forefront of the International Fairtrade debate.
Other Activities and Projects 2019 – 2020
Another primary project that Mike King has been working on since the Conference has been to promote CoopeVictoia Fairtrade arabica coffee by liaising with and emailing a number of UK roasters with a view to roasting a batch of CoopeVictoria green beans in the UK to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Cost Rica Independence in 2021. The idea was to originally have 250 to 300 x 227kilogramme bags to sell and promote locally at trade stalls, events, and churches in High Wycombe. This would mirror what Haworth Village Fairtrade Group did with CafeDirect in marking their 10 year anniversary link with Machu Picchu in Peru. Despite sending over 10
speculative emails to various independent and large roasters, I only had three replies.
However, Darren and Jane Rayner, the Managing Directors of Kingdom Coffee Company based in Reading, replied immediately by email the same day and left a message to ring them which I duly did. Darren wanted to speak to me so we arranged a meeting for Friday 19th June where I had a 2 hour 15min discussion with him. Kingdom Coffee is a Christian, 100% Fairtrade coffee wholesale company with a partner roastery. He gave me a tour and liked my idea. He developed this idea into a business plan and put this to the board of Masteroast in Peterborough. The Corporate manager had worked in Costa Rica for 7 years, and knew the Board of CoopeVictoria, as well as the reputation and qualities of their coffee. On Monday 22nd June, Darren rang me with the incredible news that Derek, the owner of Masteroast was cancelling his original contracts with Costa Rican producers at the end of 2020, and would roast CoopeVictoria Fair Trade green been coffee exclusively for 2021, so providing CoopeVictoria with its first UK roaster and its first direct market. Additionally, the Green Bean Quality Manager has been instructed to work out the quantities and types of beans required.
Through Kingdom Coffee alone, Darren would market this coffee to his existing 7000 customers which includes, churches, local and county councils, tourist venues, company headquarters like Google and Amazon, shipping and transport hubs, and village cake shops and cafes. There would be the possibility of CoopeVictoria Fairtrade coffee being part of a commercial venture with Masteroasts’ contracts with in-house coffee for major supermarket chains like Waitrose, Morrison’s and the Coop. This could potentially have an enormous economic impact on CoopeVictoria and its community as well as on Wycombe For Fairtrade in terms of marketing and promotion events with Kingdom Coffee and the Embassy of Costa Rica.
If I have omitted anything else then it is down to my memory and because I have had to condense a very large amount of work that has reflected a very active; proactive, successful and positive year!
Future Plans for 2020 – 2021.
Despite the ravages of the coronavirus pandemic, Wycombe For Fairtrade is pursuing a number of new and ongoing events and activities:
- Education awareness and potentially linking secondary schools in Wycombe with counterparts in Grecia in terms of language links, field trips, and pupil teacher exchanges
- Progress increased Fairtrade presence with Churches Faith Groups including, products, speakers, enhancing Fairtrade projects in young people groups, and working with churches towards Fairtrade Church certification.
- Produce a new 2020 -2021 Wycombe Fairtrade outlets Directory will new Kingdom Coffee logo and “High Wycombe” inserted on “We are a Fairtrade Town” logo
- Promoting CoopeVictoria and Grecia with leaflets, brochures and a new roller banner printed in English to increase awareness and advocate their products at local and regional events. Especially narratives about their producers and families – How they allocate and spend their Fairtrade Premium investment on social projects.
- With the invitation of the Ambassador of Costa Rica and the Director of Kingdom Coffee, attend promotional events on 2021 in London and the UK marketing new CoopeVictoria Fairtrade coffee range. E.g. Costa Rican Parade in London on New Years Day as well as Promoting our group and links with Grecia at the orchid festival at Kew Gardens in February 2021.
- Maybe attend new Anniversary coffee launch at Fairtrade Foundation HQ.