After 18 months of work, Melrose and District Fairtrade Group has submitted its application to the Fairtrade Foundation seeking to have Melrose recognised as a Fairtrade Town.
Group chair Jenni Young is seen putting the finishing touches to the application.
Members now have an anxious wait to see if they will join Selkirk and Peebles as an additional beacon for the cause in the Borders.
The awareness-raising work of the group has seen it provide extensive support to the sustainability curriculum at Melrose Primary School, and the strong partnership with both staff and pupils has resulted in some valuable local data gathering and high-visibility events. A number of pupils have attended steering group meetings and contributed. The school hopes to achieve Fairtrade School status.
In addition, group members have been out and about talking to other schools, business groups and local community organisations about Fairtrade, and the benefits that it brings to farmers and producers in developing countries. This has often included slide shows of visits that group members have made to see at first hand how Fairtrade brings not only fair prices for the produce supplied, but also how the additional Fairtrade Premium supports local infrastructure projects such as the provision of better local health care and education facilities.
A remarkable outcome of the work of the Melrose group was to discover through a local survey the number of local shops that already stock and sell Fairtrade items, and the number of local businesses that already use Fairtrade products as a matter of course.
A feature of the talks given by group members has often included providing samples of Fairtrade products to taste, including wines and homemade traybakes using fairly-traded and locally available ingredients. A small directory of local businesses, accompanied by the traybake recipes, has ensured that the link is made between shop and customer in the High Street.
The group has also been a contributing member to the Greener Melrose series of winter talks and will continue to support this initiative, and continues to receive invitations to give talks and presentations to other local community groups.