For the last few years, High Wycombe Fairtrade has been forging links with the Fairtrade town of Grecia and neighbouring Fairtrade coffee and sugar producer, Coope Victoria, in Costa Rica.
The linking stemmed from a conversation which took place at the International Fairtrade Town Conference in Madrid in 2018. Three members of Wycombe for Fairtrade attended the conference and whilst there, happened to meet Maria, the Sustainability Manager from CoopeVictoria. From this initial dialogue, a very productive and active link has been established.
In 2019 Maria visited High Wycombe on route to the International Fairtrade Towns Conference in Cardiff. Whilst with us, she visited a number of shops and cafes in the town selling Fairtrade products including Hills Community Cafe in Micklefield, Ruby Moon, Oxfam and the Air Raid Shelter Cafe to name just some. She had a meeting with Maz, the Mayor, and also visited Bewley’s (a large wholesaler of Fairtrade products) on the Cressex Industrial Estate. At the International Fairtrade Towns Conference she, along with Matt (our deputy mayor), Mike (chairman of our group) and Jhon (also a member of our group with Spanish as his first language) led a workshop entitled “Town Linking: A story of friendship ” at which they shared their experiences of forging links with each other.
The Costa Rican ambassador kindly agreed to present High Wycombe’s Fairtrade Town renewal certificate to the Mayor of High Wycombe in a meeting which took place in January 2020 and a document establishing the Fairtrade High Wycombe/Grecia agreement (including the CoopeVictoria cooperative) has now been signed by the Mayors of both towns, the Director of CoopeVictoria and Wycombe for Fairtrade Chairman, Mike King (a copy of the document is also on display at the Costa Rican embassy in London). Plans are currently underway to establish dialogues between schools in the two towns, so that students can derive benefit from communicating with each other. This joint venture will provide opportunities for students to develop Spanish/English language skills, to develop and compare the economics of Fairtrade and the links with environmental projects being carried out in both countries.
It is also hoped that coffee from CoopeVictoria can be marketed by a company in the UK, particularly as this producer has recently been awarded First Place in the annual prestigious Costa Rica Fairtrade Gold Cup competition for the quality of their coffee, for the third consecutive year!
It is very worthwhile to have developed this direct link between consumers and producers in the Fairtrade system and many further fruitful discussions and developments are expected to spring from this in the future.
- -CoopeVictoria also won third place in the competition with her Geisha Ines Process Washed Coffee.
- -For three consecutive years CoopeVictoria has won the First Place of the contest.
This Friday, April 9, the 2021 Golden Cup contest ended successfully, a contest that rewards the quality of Costa Rican coffee certified as Fair Trade.
Under the supervision of a jury led by the experienced national taster Esdras Vega on behalf of the Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE), a total of 22 samples delivered by 6 cooperatives were tasted, including Coopevictoria, an organization that obtained for the third consecutive year the first place in the contest with its Geisha Inés coffee, natural process, produced at Finca Inés at more than 1,600 meters above sea level.
“To once again achieve first place in the competition as specialty coffee, reaffirms the excellent work that is done on the farms and the benefit, in addition to the commitment that CoopeVictoria has with the quality of our coffee and this allows us to expose ourselves to the world as coffee of the highest quality, and well, a great honor to also receive third place in the same category, we are very grateful to the team that makes this possible ”, commented Mario Sibaja Pérez, CoopeVictoria’s Commercial Manager.
CoopeVictoria’s Geisha Inés coffee is part of a variety garden in which the organization has been working for some years at Finca Inés. The height of the place and the specialized agronomic management given to the harvested varieties has given the cooperative excellent results in terms of quality.
“The objective of the Garden of Varieties what it seeks is to produce coffees of varieties that provide an exotic and differentiated cup that allows us to access the most demanding specialty market niches worldwide,” said Sibaja.
- Mike King
- Jhon Munoz
- Sheena King
- Ivan Cicin-Sain – Wycombe Friends of the Earth
- Sarah Moroz
MK – The Environmental, Sustainability and Fairtrade committee meeting at Bucks New Uni did go ahead but due to technical issues. MK was unable to join. MK has the minutes though.
Wycombe FOE/Population Matters
I C-S – re: Population Matters – no updates to report at the moment.
Wycombe FOE has been fairly active – thinking of starting a food campaign (food waste angle). They are also active in the Bucks Climate Action alliance – an amalgam of about 10 local groups.
Wycombe FOE have been lobbying councillors
MK – has a list of all the current members of the Bucks Climate Action group. Sees no reason for us not to join.
SK – agrees – climate and FT are all linked. SM also agreed
MK – he will go ahead and join the alliance on-line.
I C-S – Mike Chadwick is the overall organiser of this
MK – on behalf of TT – TT has amended the Wycombe Environment Centre entry, removed the Wycombe Transition town entry and replaced it with Wycombe FOE details. TT has asked MK to check on details of the eco-artist listed on our site.
SK – TT has also put several recent posts on our Facebook site
Grecia/Coope Victoria link
MK – re: the banner – JM has been in contact with Maria in Grecia and they are working on the English text that we sent to them. They are also going to put a plaque up in Grecia stating that Wycombe is their sister town and want MK/SK to unveil it when they are finally able to visit. They also want us to be involved in a campaign (see later)
Journal of Fair Trade article
MK – Pauline Tiffen has got back to them to say that they are going to publish it. It is now going out to a second reviewer and they want the diagrams in a different format. TT may be able to do this. It will be in the issue after July.
SK – our current balance is £251.75.
MK – has now printed off the public liability insurance document – it is valid up to the 31st November 2021. The FT Foundation hopes to be able to offer this again the following year.
Fairtrade Fortnight/other events
MK – 2 areas to develop for this: churches and Grecia
Churches – Angus is leading this – he has contacts with administrators in various churches. After FT Fornight, the FT Foundation is starting a campaign to see which churches are registered and still active. They are changing to an on-line database and are simplifying the procedure. We could follow this with an e-mail from Wycombe for Fairtrade. The FT Foundation is sending its e-mails out in order of the churches’ previous applications, not by area. However, MK has spoken to Chrysi Dimaki from FT Foundation and she will do a search on any particular churches we ask about. MK will be talking to Angus tomorrow.
JM – re: Coronavirus – Costa Rica is starting a vaccination plan. Maria is sending information about what Coope Victoria are planning for later in the year. JM will translate and we can put it up on our website etc. They also talked about exchange of letters between students in our 2 countries re: FT, economics etc. Suggested that we arrange a meeting between teachers of the 2 towns to discuss ideas and thus to start establishing connections
MK – has investigated the names of staff members at Wycombe High and John Hampden so far, in relevant subjects. We also need to contact the headteachers to discuss it. Environment and climate change could also be included.
JM – Maria has a school she is planning to make contact with first.
MK – Maria did say they would like to help students to improve their English. As soon as she has the contacts, she will let us know.
SM – Has received an e-mail from Mayor of Tunbridge Wells re: an event on 5th March – a webinar involving Adam Gardner from the FT Foundation, a Kenyan tea producer and a UK farmer. Will forward the e-mail on to rest of group
SK – Traidcraft Exchange are encouraging people to fundraise for them between 8th March and 7th June because any amount raised will be doubled by the government during this time. MK/SK have been sent a Big Brew guide. Also a 100km virtual walk to be completed during April to raise money – SK would like to do this. They are also hosting 3 quizzes.
Costa Rican anniversary coffee
MK – re: the potential 200th anniversary Costa Rican coffee – this may still be possible this year and our contact is hoping to progress it. It is hoped to produce a batch which mentions the Grecia/Wycombe link on its packaging.
Fairtrade Easter eggs
SK – was approached by a lady at church to ask if Christ the Servant King church were selling Real Easter eggs this year. SK has spoken to the church administrator at CSK and they are putting a notice about it in the church newsletter
- Mike King
- Jhon Munoz
- Sheena King
- Tony Thornby
- Sarah Moroz
MK – Correction to minutes of 17/11/20 meeting – it should be Jade
Collis, not Jane.
Bucks New Uni may have an upcoming meeting in February of the Environmental, Sustainability and Fairtrade committee which MK will attend.
Draft document on trade justice and climate change
Re: draft document by I C-S
MK read out Ivan’s document
MK – The idea is to put the document onto our website in a prominent position. The importance of the trade justice/climate change link has also been discussed in a couple of recent webinars that MK/SK have joined.
No other updates to report from I C-S re: Population
Matters / Wycombe Friends of the Earth
SM – the final sentence is a source of hope that such a large
percentage of food producers in the developing world are small scale
and would be more concerned with looking after their environment
TT – we could list this as a related topic on the WFF website
Other website/media issues
MK – will check if the artisan listing on the ‘related topics’ section is still current or can be removed.
MK – has put quite a few documents onto our Gridhost site
TT – has also put quite a lot onto our Facebook page. We need to put effort into getting people to look at our content
MK – Ivan says that the Transition Town group in Wycombe has now finished so that could come off our website
TT – asked re: the Wycombe Environment Centre
SM – doesn’t think they have a building but they have a Facebook page called Ecobuzz
Grecia/High Wycombe link banner
MK – has made the suggested alterations to the banner
SM – raised the point re: use of Fair Trade as two separate words – is
this so that it makes the definition wider?
MK – yes, this is to include other groups/businesses who haven’t
certified with the FT Foundation Journal of Fair Trade article
MK – re: the article that he wrote together with Tony B plus input by Maria Angela. Have incorporated Pauline Tiffen’s suggestions and are hopeful that it will be published in an upcoming edition of the FT Journal. Would then hope to write a second article focussing on practical issues of supply chains, using material from Coope Victoria and other producer groups.
SK – re: membership fees as agreed previously – please could everyone send these in before end of Jan. The current balance is about £221
TT – looked at sources of funding with MK. Bucks Source didn’t seem possible for us. Just Giving seems to be just for registered charities but there is a site called ‘Golden Giving’ which covers non-registered charities as well. There is a charge for registering with them but it is quite reasonable and on a par with other crowd funding sites
MK – received e-mail from FT Foundation Head office to say they are offering free public liability insurance up to end of Nov 2021
There was a discussion on this and it was decided to take up on this offer
TT – the more groups who sign up for this, the more it will indicate to the FT Foundation how much need there is.
National aid budget
MK – the aid budget has been reduced from 0.7% to 0.5% GDP but
with the proviso that it will be changed back again to 0.7% after the
Covid crisis. Also the all-party parliamentary group will still have
teeth in these decisions.
SK – re: FT Yorkshire are doing a community arts festival on-line with a different event each day. This would be worthwhile for us to follow. Have to register (free) via Eventbrite
MK – also would like to pursue the connections with churches for FT Fortnight. The FT Foundation (Chrysi Dimaki) has sent MK some info – a link for churches to click on to re-register their FT status. The Foundation will also be contacting all churches registered with them. We could also contact churches ourselves.
SK – Christ the Servant King church sent an e-mail before Christmas re: their links with other groups eg. Wycombe for Fairtrade, Traidcraft and asking for feedback. MK/SK wrote back and made some suggestions.
Costa Rican anniversary coffee
MK – got an e-mail from Darren of Kingdom coffee. He is still very keen on producing a coffee using Coope Victoria beans in support of the 200th anniversary. It is very difficult at the moment because cafes etc are not using so much coffee and they have to use up any coffee already in the pipeline before ordering more.
JM – most of the UK producers still have stock from last year so are not placing a lot of orders
MK – cannot really predict timings at the moment
SK – Darren was asking for suggestions for a name for the coffee.
MK – in addition to the main anniversary product, there will also be 100 bags or so with the High Wycombe/Grecia link printed on them.
16th February 2021 (date arranged after the meeting
In its February 2021 meeting, the Steering Group of Wycombe discussed the merits of joining the Buckinghamshire Climate Action Alliance organization.
There was a unanimous decision to back and support this alliance as climate change, climate justice, environmental degradation, and sustainability are becoming ever more important elements of fair trade generally, and with fair trade farmers and producers facing the brunt of climatic extremes caused largely by developed world policies and corporate neglect.
Therefore, Wycombe Fairtrade will become an official member of this pressure group operating at county level and support action to ensure that the new Buckinghamshire Council gives due consideration to global warming and climate change issues, and takes measures to ensure a renewable resources base with “green energy” wherever possible.
The Bucks Climate Action Alliance (BCAA) is an umbrella organisation enabling all Bucks organisations and groups concerned about the Climate Crisis and Biodiversity Loss, to come together as one powerful voice, calling on Bucks Council to ACT NOW.
- To persuade Buckinghamshire Council to acknowledge that there is a Climate Emergency.
- Urgent action is required to meet Net Zero Emissions across the county now.
- Embed potential climate change impacts as a key factor in all decision making across all the council’s policies and functions.
- Ensure awareness of climate change threats to all residents and businesses in the county, and encourage appropriate action.
- Evaluating Council strategy and giving constructive feedback
- Raising important questions at Council Committee meetings
- Co-ordinated Letter writing campaigns to highlight depth of feeling in the county
- Engagement with Community Boards to champion the climate in local decisions.
Group Members Include
CAN-Risborough; The Chiltern Society; Sustainable Chesham; Speen Environmental Action Group; Bucks WI; Believers Action on Climate Change; MarlowCAN [an alliance of Marlow environmental groups); XR Chesham; Chesham4Fairtrade Steering Group; Chiltern Peace and Justice Group; Aylesbury Vale XR; Dan’s Refill Store in Chalfont St Peter; Wycombe Friends of the Earth; Risborough Environmental Group; Population Matters; and Wycombe For Fairtrade Steering Group.
The Pathways for Change document describes and gives examples of the actions likely to be required by Buckinghamshire Council and others to address the Climate Emergency that we should all collectively be working towards.
BCAA seeks to prevent extreme weather like the 2020 UK floods affecting the county of Buckinghamshhire by the Council taking measures to ensure that decisions and policies made by the Council include adequate climate action responses to reduce t global warming and occurrences of severe weather extremes.
For two weeks each year at the end of February and start of March, thousands of individuals, companies and groups across the UK come together to share the stories of the people who grow our food and drinks and who grow the cotton in our clothes, people who are often exploited and underpaid.
Farmers and workers in the global south, who have done the least to contribute to climate change, are disproportionately affected. With the emergence of the global COVID pandemic, the challenges that farmers face now are bigger than ever before with falling commodity prices and widespread shocks reverberating along our global supply chains.
To read more about this year’s Fairtrade Foundation initiatives and how you can get involved go to https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/get-involved/current-campaigns/fairtrade-fortnight/. Special information for schools can be found at https://schools.fairtrade.org.uk/take-action/fairtrade-fortnight-2021/
Ivan Cicin-Sain – Wycombe Friends of the Earth
I C-S (present for first 40mins session)
MK – re: correction to minutes of 13.10.20 – it was his compilation report of collaboration with Grecia/Coope Victoria since October 2019 that he sent out to the SE Regional Fairtrade rep and to FT Head Office, not the Chairman and Treasurers’ reports. He also sent it to Joanna Pollard who organised the FT Yorkshire forum on 19th October.
Setting up mini-teams & shadowing of roles
MK – main agenda item to be discussed is re: shadowing/mini-teams.
SM – would like to shadow on Wycombe Friends of the Earth matters
MK – would be willing to deputise for John
SK – interested in shadowing SM on secretarial and churches
SM – willing to shadow on Traidcraft links
MK – would like to shadow on website ie. TT
I C-S – willing to shadow on Facebook etc ie. JM
SM – wasn’t on rota sent out for monitoring e-mail
Mk – must have been an error – asked if SM would be willing to do rest of this month SM –ok with that
I C-S – knows a bit about funding, so willing to help on sourcing funding
MK – AM is keen on Wycombe churches and faith groups
SK/SM – also willing to help on this
MK – re: schools. He is interested in this. JM may be as well
I C-S – willing to help on international links and sustainability/climate change etc
MK – Costa Rica is very strong on environmental issues
I C-S – he may not be needed on shadowing on Facebook as TT/JM are both covering this.
SM –asked if we should write paragraph about our roles
MK – yes – if these are sent to him he will amalgamate them and put the document onto our Gridhost e-mail page
Update on Wycombe FOE/Population Matters
I C-S – nothing to report on this at the moment
SM – asked re: Ecobuzz
I C-S – it is the name of Wycombe Environment Centre’s Facebook page
Grecia/Coope Victoria Link
MK – Coope V have sent through the English version of banner
There was a discussion re: wording on banner
SK – liked the word ‘partnership’ instead of brotherhood
MK – TT has found a printer who will print it for about £36 (2m x 80cm).
I C-S – wondering if we are still Wycombe for Fairtrade or are we Wycombe Fairtrade
MK – the former
I C-S – have WFF done any videos? They could be put onto You Tube.
MK – JM has some interviews and MK has some (one at Pann Mill)
MK – for rest of agenda, he has put info on Gridhost. On 9th Nov Bucks New Uni had an Environmental / Sustainability / Fairtrade committee meeting but he sent them the wrong details and couldn’t join the meeting. Students and staff are currently only going in 50% of the time. Jane Collis is still there (MK met her a few years ago) and he has now sent his correct details to her but they haven’t appointed a FT rep yet. They have sent minutes through to MK.
Re: the paper he wrote with Tony B and Maria Angela – this has now been sent off to the Journal for FT. Are awaiting their acknowledgement and to hear if it is going to be sent out for peer review. They also have ideas for follow up articles. Tony B put in a lot of work. He is a social justice campaigner and has a lot of knowledge in this area.
SK – nothing to report on finances
SK – will send out details of bank account so we can each pay our subscriptions starting in January.
MK – was going to try to get a Zoom meeting with Lesley Clarke, together with JM. JM is very busy at the moment so MK may do this on his own. MK wants to ask re: new council structure. The wards will be bigger as not so many councillors. Does this mean less representation for smaller parties? There will be a Town Council for Wycombe though.
MK – re: Yorkshire conference – importance of establishing producer/consumer links was talked about. We are already doing this. MK wants to establish links in other parts of the world as well – South America, Caribbean, South Africa etc.
There will be a Webinar on 25th Nov 6.30 – 8pm Traidcraft Exchange re: how producers can adapt in the current climate
MK – is drafting a letter to Steve Baker re: changes to the group which scrutinises how international aid is spent