1. When and how did the Fairtrade Town idea take hold?

Faringdon is a small market town of 6000 people. We’re very fortunate in that all the Churches work closely together: Anglican, RC, United Church, Baptist & Quaker. In 1986 - as an act of faith – we decided to open a shop in the marketplace called the Mustard Seed that sold Traidcraft goods and Christian books. In those early years, the total income was only a couple of thousand per year. It’s now 45,000 – and fair-trade goods are available in a number of other shops as well. High profile regular events include Fairtrade Fortnight, One World Week, and popular Fairtrade Fashion Shows. For many of them we’ve had good press coverage. Last year during Fairtrade Fortnight when we were plugging the new logo with lots of the blow-up bananas, we convinced all the cafes and restaurants that served coffee during the day to serve fair-trade coffee instead. They all did – and three of them kept on doing it! One of the hotels uses the Fairtrade sample sachets in the hotel rooms, and much appreciates the new hot chocolate sachets. Over the years, some of the businesses as well as many of the clubs/societies have also gone over to fair-trade hot drinks,  and snacks. For the past five years, we’ve very successfully sold Fairtrade hampers over the Web at Christmas (yes - you can order them at any time  - click here! ) and Faringdon has also been very pro-active in the Trade Justice movement.

Fairtrade fast facts

  • The Fairtrade Mark, awarded by the Fairtrade Foundation, is an independent consumer label which appears on UK products as a guarantee that their producers have got a better deal.
  • Producers are guaranteed a minimum price no matter how low the world market price falls. They also receive a premium to invest in social, economic or environmental projects.
  • 4.5 million growers and their families in 36 countries participate in Fairtrade, selling to markets across 17 countries in Europe, north America and Japan.
  • Over four million farmers and their families around the world benefit from the better deal offered by Fairtrade.

Then – in October 2003, we heard through the grapevine that a small village just to the south of Faringdon was applying for fair-trade status. That was the spark! If they could do it, then so could we! Within hours, we had downloaded the Fairtrade Town Guidelines and criteria from www.fairtrade.org.uk  , and we realised that we could not only apply as long as we could get the town council to pass the necessary resolution, but if our application turned out to be successful, then we could also claim to be the FIRST Fairtrade town in the South-East!

Fortunately, we have two strong fair-trade supporters on the town council – and one also happens to be the mayor of Faringdon. Perhaps not surprisingly, the motion to support Faringdon’s application was passed unanimously at the very next town council meeting!

We knew that we were now able to fulfill all five criteria for Fairtrade Town status – and filled in the forms immediately. Of course – we made sure we got front page coverage in the local press – including the compulsory photo of the blow-up banana!

2. What difference will Fairtrade Town status make to the town?

A HUGE difference! For the past fifteen years, Fairtrade in Faringdon has been primarily driven by the churches. But now that we are a Fairtrade Town it means that many more businesses, clubs and societies can become involved in encouraging Fairtrade, and the individuals can comfortably take on the responsibilities of being better ethical consumers – without necessarily having to associate themselves with a particular Church. Clearly, in the context of ethical consumer issues, the aims of Fairtrade are also linked to those groups that encourage local food production and distribution such as the Farmers Market and the Faringdon Local Food initiatives.

3. Which event marked the achievement of Fairtrade Town status?

We achieved Fairtrade Town status on 1st February 2004. We then prepared the announcements carefully so that they all happened during Fairtrade Fortnight 2004 four weeks later! All the church and club newsletters splashed the news out at the same time as the local press, and this coincided with the photo opportunities with the local MP and celebrities. The Steering Group consists of six key people representing all the town’s businesses, shops, clubs & societies, so in the weeks leading up to Fairtrade Fortnight, we were able to get a huge number of groups involved! It was a real splash! But – we all realise that this is only the beginning. Achieving Fairtrade Town Status now gives us the opportunity to turn fair-trade from niche to mainstream – and we intend to do just that!

Faringdon Town Council Fairtrade Resolution – Passed 12th November 2003

  • That Council passes a resolution supporting Fairtrade, and agrees to serve Fairtrade coffee and tea at its meetings and in its offices.
  • That Council commits itself to promoting awareness of Fairtrade to its constituency on a regular basis through its newsletter and other outlets.
  • That Council allocates Fairtrade Town responsibilities to a member of staff or Committee to ensure continued commitments to its Fairtrade Town status.
  • That Council considers the erection of street signs declaring it as a Fairtrade Town.
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