Sunday, 11 December 2011

Fairtrade Christmas Fair

This is the fourth year we've done a Christmas Fair - it's becoming a tradition.
We had a mix of old favourite stalls, and newcomers. Martha from Love Zimbabwe brought her new baby along, whose name means "We are blessed" - and she was so good all day.
The lady from Bagage has started a new Fairtrade group in Newcastle Emlyn.
The Ice Queen (somewhat surprisingly) managed to sell some ice cream, despite the low temperatures, and the Fairtrade Hay stall was kept busy with hot chocolate and mince pies.
We also had Hay2Timbuktu and Jump4Timbuktu, hand woven and naturally dyed goods from Chile, handicrafts from Egypt, Thailand's Karen people, and Zimele's Zulus, and Tools for Self Reliance, who deal with people in Tanzania. Athene English sent some of her fairly traded goods along too.
Our music in the morning was provided by Toby Parker, on guitar and mouth organ, a last minute stand in for the musicians who couldn't come. Toby is a regular performer at Kilvert's Open Mic nights, and also busks outside the HSBC bank in Hay.
We chose the same day as the Hay School Fair, but children came along in the afternoon (many of them with their faces painted!).

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Preparing for the Christmas Fair

The season is almost upon us, and last night the members of Fairtrade Hay sat down in the lovely little lounge in the Swan to put the final touches to the preparations for our fourth Christmas Fair.
The date is Saturday 10th December, from around 10am to dusk (around 4ish), when the world comes to Hay. We will have some old favourites like Love Zimbabwe, and some new ones like Ananuca from Peru. We've got musicians in the morning - and we were thinking of having a Father Christmas, but Hay will be awash with Father Christmas's that day (well, two of them....). We were going to borrow the Booths Bookshop Father Christmas for an hour, and there will also be one at Hay School - so we decided to do something a bit different. From 2pm onwards we are having an Ice Queen selling ice cream! We've also got the Town Cryer, and the Lady Mayor will be opening the proceedings with a speech at 11am. Hot chocolate and mince pies will be available from the Fairtrade stall. Tools for Self Reliance will be back, along with Jump4Timbuktu and Medics4Timbuktu, and fairly traded goods from all over the world.
(and we're hoping it won't be as cold as last year!)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Meeting at the Swan

We've had a bit of a quiet time since the Picnic, but now is the time to start thinking about the Christmas Fair, and Fairtrade Fortnight, and renewing our status as a Fairtrade Town - and a few other things as well.
The Christmas Fair (slogan this year will be "Have Yourself A Fairly Traded Christmas") will be held on the 10th December, and we'll have a mix of regulars and new stalls from all around the world. One new trader we're hoping to have is Trade Africa, who have batik and other handicrafts from Tanzania and Malawi, and there's also a small charity called Obumu which works with villages in Uganda.
Chris, who does the lion's share of organising the Fair, is also active in Jump4Timbuktu, and he told us that they now have a new co-ordinator, who is fluent in French (important for Mali, where one of the main languages is French). They have also been working on some new projects, in particular an IT centre and a gardening project. They've even been trying out some of the techniques for the gardens at Hayfield Garden here in Hay (under slightly different conditions than the edge of the Sahara desert!)
Chris is also involved with the Cheesemarket project in Hay, to renovate the old Cheesemarket for community use, and because of this he's involved with ambitious plans for the Hay Festival. For several years now, the Fair on the Square has been put on during the first weekend of the Hay Festival, to tempt Festival goers into the middle of town. Now they want to link up events in the Square, the Buttermarket and the Parish Hall, with stalls, workshops, and entertainment. Many of the stalls will be Fairtrade, so he was suggesting that Fairtrade Hay should get involved with the organisation of this. More on that nearer the time!
And while we're touching on the subject of the Cheesemarket, Jo Eliot is involved in a fund-raising fashion show at the Swan for the Cheesemarket on 3rd November! They, too, have a new co-ordinator, who is needed to put the bid together for the money they really want, to renovate the building.
And then there was the renewal form to fill in - or make a start at, anyway! I think we've actually done rather well. The only thing we said we were going to do in 2009 that hasn't happened yet is the putting up of a Fairtrade banner outside the Council Chambers, and we've raised money, and got agreement in principle from the Council for that. We've held events, liased with other local groups and other local Fairtrade Towns, brought out a new Fairtrade Directory, and publicised everything we've done in the local press.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Fair World Project

On Facebook, there's a campaign to encourage major brands and companies to source Fair Trade products.
More information at

Friday, 22 July 2011

Fairtrade Fashion

"Oh! Have you come to take it down already?" asked Jayne the Librarian. She sounded rather disappointed. They seem to have enjoyed playing host to the Fairtrade Fashion exhibition over the last two weeks. "The walls look very bare now," she said.
So now the pictures are all safely packed up and ready to head off to their next venue.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Exhibition is Up!

I went up to the Library this morning with the parcel of pictures to put up for the photographic exhibition. They were delivered yesterday, to the shop where I used to work, by a courier who's been coming to Hay for a long time and knows that Mary Fellowes at Broad Street Books would get the parcel to the right person! He didn't want to take them back to the depot where they'd be flung around by the staff there despite the labels saying "Fragile".
Once there, we hit a snag - the pictures wouldn't go on the Library display board. But every problem is an opportunity for creative thinking, so we put up the exhibition on top of the bookshelves around the walls instead! Many thanks to Jayne (who wouldn't let me climb the ladder) and her assistant, and to the lady who gave artistic advice about the placing of the pictures (everyone's a critic!) - they really did look better after we'd moved them round.
Even as they were going up there was a lot of interest. A chap working on his laptop said he might have to move so he couldn't see one of the celebrity pictures, as it was taking his mind off his work! And he knew who the celebrities were - I have to confess my woeful ignorance of popular culture here! Another lady asked how long the exhibition would be on, so she could come back and look at it when we'd finished putting the pictures up.
And on the way home, I met a neighbour who actually used to know the photographer Trevor Leighton!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Photographic Exhibition

The photos have arrived!
Tomorrow I'll be hanging them at Hay Library for an exhibition that will last until 20th July.
Trevor Leighton, a photographer who has done work for such magazines as Vogue, has taken photos of models wearing Fairtrade cotton clothing for the Fairtrade Foundation. There are also pictures of the cotton producers in the exhibition.
The exhibition is currently touring Wales - it was at Crickhowell before it moved here.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Picnic Bliss!

And what a wonderful afternoon for a picnic it was! We had the wonderful Paul Hartley entertaining the kids with interactive co-operative games, Christina doing art with nature (which was a great success), a refreshment tent with Fairtrade teas and coffees and juice, a face painter who was working flat out for four hours, and a good time had by all!
I couldn't be there - I was supposed to be doing the five stick weaving, but I was ill in bed. And we couldn't manage to interest any of the local musicians in coming along with their guitars. Everyone else I've spoken to, though, has given it such glowing reviews! Bob from the Transition Towns group (our co-organisers - Hayfield Gardens is their initiative) was so enthused that he was talking about doing one every three months or so!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Planning a Picnic

It's always fun to plan a party - and in view of the weather this year, we're planning for every eventuality! We're borrowing a geodome and various tents just in case it rains. The Community Picnic is a joint effort with Transition Towns Hay, and will be held in the Hayfield Community Gardens, just on the edge of town, with amazing views of the river and castle. The date is Sunday 3rd July, from 12 noon to around 4.30pm. The important thing to remember is to bring a picnic, and there will be free activities on site including Paul Hartley's community games, Art with Nature with Christina Wright, five-stick weaving with Lesley Arrowsmith (or Matilda de Breos, as she's been persuaded to dress up in medieval costume - they didn't have to persuade very hard!). There will also be live music and Fairtrade teas, coffees and squash - and biscuits. And face painting, too.
During Hay Festival Tim Smit, from the Eden Project, visited the gardens, and formally opened their geodesic polydome.

The planning meeting was also looking back at our recent achievements. Julia ran a stall at the Africa Market in the Parish Hall during Hay Festival, with lots of Fairtrade stalls around her, and said it was good to have the presence there.
Those who went to the Smallholders Show at the Royal Welsh showground also said it was well worth while.
Barbara manned the tea tent at the community gardens for some of the time they were open during the Festival. She said it was quiet, but people did make their way up there, and there was a big meal one evening with veggies from the garden cooked in a giant cauldron.
Jo gave out Fairtrade directories before the talk at the Globe with Harriet Lamb - and Harriet Lamb also went to visit the Africa Market, and the This Is Rubbish meal up at the community gardens.
So, all in all, we've been quite a busy group recently!

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Smallholders Show at the Royal Welsh

The Fairtrade table in the Green Horizons hall at the Smallholders' Show this year is a Powys wide initiative. Today, everyone manning the stall had come from Hay, but tomorrow there will be people from Brecon and elsewhere.
We had Fairtrade chocolate from the Co-op and Divine for people to try (always good for encouraging people to stop and chat), and some campaign material about cotton subsidies. It seems that the EU subsidise cotton growers in Greece and Spain to the tune of seven billion euros every year (!!) even though they only produce 2% of the world's cotton. We had letters addressed to each of the four Welsh MEPs, to encourage them to vote against continuing this subsidy. Meanwhile, cotton growers in West Africa can actually produce their cotton more cheaply, but cannot compete with the subsidised cotton from the EU and the United States. One lady took a whole bunch of these letters to pass around her ladies' group! Another lady praised the Co-op for their labelling after having done a fact-finding mission with her local WI.
It was also encouraging to find that almost all of the children who stopped at the stall said they either belonged to a Fairtrade school, or had recently done a Fairtrade project at school or with the Scouts. Three teachers took leaflets to find out more about their school becoming a Fairtrade school, too.
In fact, the majority of people who stopped to chat already knew about Fairtrade and tried to buy Fairtrade products, though there were still plenty who didn't know that the label went much beyond coffee, chocolate and bananas.
And as you can see from the picture above, it wasn't just humans who were interested in Fairtrade. Here are some local gnomes receiving their Fairtrade stickers!

Monday, 16 May 2011


On the Fairtrade Blog, there's a post by Harriet Lamb about the Fairtrade bunting that was decorated by supporters of FT all over the country - we did some here in the Buttermarket. It's been up on display in Battersea Park.
Harriet Lamb will be appearing at the Globe as a speaker in their HowTheLightGetsIn festival, which is on at the same time as Hay Festival. With Barry C Smith, Joanna Kavenna, John Naish and Robert Rowland-Smith, she'll be talking about The Famine and the Feast at noon on Sunday 29th May, and at 10.30am on Monday 30th May she'll be appearing on stage with Gideon Rachman, Bonnie Greer, Christopher Hamilton and Simon Glendinning for a discussion entitled The End of Abundance?

Friday, 13 May 2011

Future Events Planned

We haven't been idle - just catching our breaths after Fairtrade Fortnight.
Plans are now afoot for a community picnic at Hayfield Garden, in association with the Transition Towns group. The date is now set for Sunday 3rd July, from 12 noon to 4.30pm, with entertainment from Paul Hartley, our local 'gamester for hire', five-stick weaving, face painting, nature art, a plant sale and acoustic music. Anyone who would like to come should bring their own picnic, but teas and coffees (and possibly cake) will be available.
Meanwhile, at the Library, a photographic exhibition will be on display for two weeks from 30th June. This is an exhibition of celebrities wearing clothes made with Fairtrade cotton, and photographed by Trevor Leighton, a well-known portrait photographer.
There will also be a Fairtrade stall at the Green Horizons show at the Royal Welsh showground on the weekend of 21st/22nd May, and at the Royal Welsh Show itself in July. This will be a Powys-wide initiative from all the local Fairtrade Towns.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011


Here are some of the photos of the Fairtrade event at the Thursday market - the first is when we were advertising a reward for the finding of our letter 'F', and the second is when it was found for us!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Fairtrade Fortnight Events

Last year, the Fairtrade Hay group dressed up as tea ladies and gave out free cups of Fairtrade tea at the Thursday market. The market traders have been asking us if we'd repeat that generosity ever since!
This year the theme is cotton, though we still had some tea on the go. We also had items to display from several shops in Hay that sell Fairtrade goods, including some from the Co-op - and found that we couldn't display half of them because the wind kept blowing them away! Inside the Buttermarket, sheltered from the weather, we had bunting to decorate, and Jo promptly found a group of kids from Trewern Outdoor Pursuits Centre who were in town for the morning to decorate some of them. We also sent them off to look for part of our missing banner....
The original idea had been to have a giant Fairtrade washing line stretched right across the top of the market square, above the stalls. I went down with the washing line the night before the market, when the wind was already starting to blow up, and we decided it would be safer to string the banner across the front of the Cheesemarket building - giant Tshirts, knickers, shorts and socks, each with a letter sewn on to spell Fairtrade (only the letters were Fairtrade cotton - the rest was recycled).
When we arrived in the morning, the washing line had wound itself around one of the pillars of the Cheesemarket - and the 'F' was missing entirely! We put the remaining "AIRTRADE" banner around the sides of the Buttermarket on the railings, and posted a reward for anyone who found the 'F'. Several hours later, it was found under a tree in the Castle grounds! Hurrah! It will appear again at the Fairtrade picnic in the summer.
Despite the weather, we got quite a bit of interest, the tea kept flowing despite a couple of technical hitches, and a good time was had by all.

The following night was Bingo night at the local primary school. It had been a non-uniform day for the children, who were encouraged to bring in Fairtrade prizes for the bingo, and to dress in Fairtrade colours for the day. I couldn't be there, but I'm told that some of the older ladies took the whole thing very seriously indeed!

Coming up soon will be a Fairtrade cookery book, produced in collaboration with all the local Fairtrade schools - we hope!

Small Revolutions

Here's a video from Ammanford Fairtrade group, including the 500 mile Fairtrade Bike Ride.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Reasons to buy Fairtrade

Part two of an occasional series, taken from the pages of the book by Miles Litvinoff and John Madeley.
Pay Small-Scale Farmers a Fairer Price - Fairtrade raises incomes of small scale farmers and boosts local economies. The fairtrade farm-gate price is the key to a better life for hundreds of thousands of families.

This is also an issue closer to home - here in mid-Wales local farmers and the big supermarkets have an unequal relationship, with the power in the hands of the supermarkets.
On the world stage, the world banana trade is dominated by five transnational companies - Dole, Del Monte, Chiquita, Fyffes and Noboa. They grow bananas on huge plantations, with low wages and often dangerous working conditions, with a high level of pesticide use (and lack of safety clothing, for example, for the sprayers). The small, family-run farms on the Caribbean can't compete with the low prices of the transnationals - unless they turn to Fairtrade, where they get a guarenteed minimum price for their crops.
Supporting small producers helps women disproportionately, as they are often the majority of the smallest farmers, and helps communities to send their children to school and to afford medical care without worrying about crippling debt.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Getting Ready for Fairtrade Fortnight

Two of us went up to the car park in the middle of town this morning to measure out where the Fairtrade Clothes Line is going to be hung over the market stalls of the Thursday Market during Fairtrade Fortnight. We did it with the knicker elastic that we are going to be using for the clothes line.
Then we went into Shepherd's for a Fairtrade coffee.
"We're not going to serve you until you tell us what you were doing up there!" said the girl behind the counter. Which was less interesting that any ideas she had about it!

Saturday, 15 January 2011


"There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness"
Mahatma Gandhi

I sent off for some organic, fairtrade cotton to make a banner for Fairtrade Fortnight - last night. It arrived this morning! It's also rather lovely cotton, so I highly recommend The quotation above came with the cotton.
The whole banner won't be made of FT cotton, sadly, as we can't afford it, but the rest of it is being recycled out of old sheets. The idea is a clothes line with the word "Fairtrade" spelled out across the items. So far I've cut out two giant Tshirts, two pairs of giant knickers, two pairs of shorts, two odd socks and an apron!
The banner will be flown across Hay Market during Fairtrade Fortnight, and we will have an information stand (and teas) nearby.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Fairtrade Meeting at the Swan

Although the Swan is officially closed for the next couple of weeks, they were happy for us to use the little room with the big table, just off the bar, and we were even able to get drinks when we went in.
The main topics of conversation were the new Directory that we have all be collecting pledges for (asking local businesses to commit to providing at least two FT products, and if they also provide local produce, all the better). There will be more businesses included this time, so fewer pictures, but we thought the best way to go would be one global picture, of cotton since that's the theme for this year, and one local picture, probably of the Tea Ladies from last FT Fortnight (though how we're going to explain why we've got all those men in drag, I'm not sure!)
As Fairtrade Fortnight will shortly be upon us, we were also planning events for it, including a bingo night at the school (takings to be split between FT Hay and the School), a giant clothes line across the market with an information stall and teas (again), and the launch of the new Directory. We will also be involving all six of the local FT primary schools in the production of a FT cookbook (we're anticipating a lot of recipes for banana bread!).

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Reasons to Buy Fairtrade

I realise I'm probably preaching to the converted by posting this here, but I've just come across the book "50 Reasons to Buy Fairtrade", and I'd like to share, one reason at a time.
Reason 1. Back a system that benefits the poor. The mainstream trading system is failing the poor. Fairtrade offers partnership in place of exploitation.
The poorest countries do not benefit from 'free' trade - while Western nations are making huge profits, African nations have a shrinking economy, at about 0.8% a year, even though many valuable raw materials come out of Africa.
Millions of small scale farmers have been driven to bankrupcy as a result of subsidised food from the West being 'dumped' in their countries, undercutting their prices.
Throughout the developing world people are working in poor countries for less than a dollar a day to make goods such as clothes and toys for the Western world. Often these goods carry prestigious brand names and sell for high prices. But wages for the people who make them are rock bottom and working conditions are often appalling.
Fair trade gives the poor who actually make the products a better deal.