The Melrose and District Fairtrade Group have completed a very successful Fairtrade Fortnight for 2016. They have been significantly more active this year than last, when the group was a mere 18 months old. Their programme of events has included a number of talks to local business and professional groups, a very well attended Big Breakfast at the Ormiston Rooms showcasing Fairtrade products and a display and sale at the Scottish Borders Council offices in Newtown, jointly organised with Selkirk Fairtrade.
However the highlight this year was a talk last Thursday by Fatima Ismael, a coffee producer from Nicaragua, who gave a very informative and well illustrated presentation to an attentive audience, as part of the Greener Borders series of winter talks. She was able to explain very effectively how her coffee co-operative had overcome severe political difficulties to establish Fairtrade principles and how farmers and their communities in Norther Nicaragua benefit from fairly traded products. In the audience were representatives from the Scottish Fairtrade Forum, who arranged the visit for Fatima, and interested officers from the Council who are keen to see the Fairtrade initiative rolled out across the wider Scottish Borders. Fatima is pictured above with group chair Jenni Young.
But “The most encouraging aspect this year has been the greater awareness and widespread support for Fairtrade in Melrose during this two week period,” said group secretary, Dave Potts. “We have seen local retailers and businesses rise to the occasion by, for example, creating special window displays highlighting local events such as in the Country Kitchen Deli and stocking specific Fairtrade products like bananas that have been available in Williamson’s greengrocers.” Locals and visitors alike have been entertained and engaged by the programme of events.
Also just as important but sometimes hidden from the view of the general public, has been the exciting work on Fairtrade that has been integrated into the curriculum at Melrose Primary School. They organized their own Big Breakfast in school, also last Thursday, and over 300 pupils and P7 parents enjoyed sampling banana muffins and chocolate pancakes baked in school, while learning more about the benefits that Fairtrade brings to farmers and producers in developing countries. They also highlighted local businesses by sourcing their milk from Andersons and eggs from Lintz Hall Farm that had been kindly donated to the school baking team.
The Melrose group now look forward to the imminent erection of the roadside signage that will proclaim to all that Melrose is indeed proud to be a Fairtrade Town.