Saturday, 28 October 2017

Hay2Timbuktu Celebrates 10 Years of Twinning

Ten years ago, Hay was selected (the other finalists were York and Glastonbury) to become the UK twin of Timbuktu. The Mayor of Timbuktu and other dignitaries visited Hay, and several people from Hay went to Timbuktu.
The twinning is mainly focussed on health (with the Medics4Timbuktu) and education, particularly girls' education, but it's noteworthy for the Hay Fairtrade blog because one of the new trustees of Hay2Timbuktu is Louise Davies of Eighteen Rabbit, who also does a lot of work on the Fairtrade committee.
The report on the Hay2Timbuktu AGM can be found at the Life in Hay blog - and Fairtrade wine from the Co-op was served during the evening!

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Community Fair

Fairtrade Hay is one of seven local groups squeezed into the Buttermarket today. In fact, they're a sort of 3-in-1 group, with silver jewellery from Timbuktu on one end, manned by Chris Armstrong, Fairtrade information in the middle, looked after by Jo Eliot, and Palestinian goods on the far end from Zaytoun.


I stocked up on their excellent olive oil. The lady there also had quite a bit of traditional Palestinian cross stitch work on display, made into pouches, cushion covers and so on. They seem quite expensive at first glance, until you appreciate how much work and time has gone into making them - and they last for years! I have a very hard wearing purse I bought from the same lady some years ago at one of the Clifford Craft Fairs. They also have olive oil soap.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Buttermarket - Fairtrade Fair

The date of the next Fairtrade Fair is Saturday, 19th August, at the Buttermarket. Zaytoun will be there, and there will be jewellery and plants for sale. Fairtrade Hay will have an information stall, and Fairtrade members will be there to discuss the issues of Fairtrade and Brexit (yes, Brexit will have an impact on Fairtrade issues), and the recent decision by Sainsbury's to set up their own fairly traded label in competition with the Fairtrade logo. Or, of course, any other subjects members of the public want to talk about.

Meanwhile, Jo Eliot is planning to move to Portugal in the near future, which will leave the Fairtrade committee without a Chair and a Treasurer. So new members are being keenly sought! Jo has done huge amounts for the Fairtrade group, and will be sorely missed!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Watering Down the Fairtrade Label?

So Sainsbury's doesn't seem to like the Fairtrade label, and wants to set up its own scheme instead. The Fairtrade logo is well known now, and well understood, and this would only muddy the waters. It also seems to have problems in the making of decisions on community investments, an important part of the Fairtrade system. Under the Sainsbury's scheme it seems that the decisions on what the community premium is spent on will be made in London, rather than by the communities themselves. There is a petition at change.org objecting to the Sainsbury's scheme.

Meanwhile, Fairtrade Hay will be in the Buttermarket in Hay at the community event on Saturday 19th August. The Fairtrade stall will have lots of information about Fairtrade, plus Zaytoun products from Palestine, including their wonderful olive oil.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Open Garden at Montpelier Cottage

As part of the National Open Garden Scheme, Montpelier Cottage in Brilley is opening its gates to the public on Sunday 21st May from 2pm to 5pm. The entrance fee is £5 for adults and children free - and there's a lot to see up there, since Noel Kingsbury, who created the garden, is quite well known in gardening circles.
Refreshments will be sold in aid of Fairtrade, of course. Dogs are welcome, and there will be plants for sale.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Fairtrade Goes to Parliament

Jo Eliot, of Fairtrade Hay, was part of a delegation to the Houses of Parliament at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight. There were Fairtrade representatives from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as people from the Co-op, and Traidcraft. They had gathered to talk to the All-Party Parliamentary Committee for Fairtrade.
Jo said she was surprised at how busy it was, with MPs coming and going all the time.
The Fairtrade Foundation made a presentation, and there was also a presentation from the Minister of International Development, Rory Stewart, who seemed very interested and well informed.
There was also a speaker from a coffee co-operative in Tanzania, telling the MPs how Fairtrade is helping his community.
The Parliamentary Committees are where a lot of the important work of the House is done, so it was a very positive step for them to invite Fairtrade representatives and listen to what they had to say.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Palestine Comes to Cusop

Cusop Hall was full last night for the talk organised by the Hay Fairtrade group - and Ange Grunsell, who sells Zaytoun products as the volunteer distributor for the Hay area. Zaytoun is Arabic for "olive", and it was olive oil that started the Zaytoun brand.
Taysir Arabasi, who has been working for Zaytoun since the beginning in 2004 and is their Palestinian director, started off the evening with some basic information about the situation in Palestine. There is a map, showing Palestinian and Israeli territory over the years, with the area available for the Palestinians getting smaller all the time.
Meanwhile, the Israeli settlers have been moving in, despite UN agreements - and they get priority for the water supplies. This has made it difficult for the local farmers, many of whom have had to stop growing certain vegetables - and the shallower wells they have access to contain salty water, which also limits the sort of things they are able to grow. Taysir said that one farmer he talked to was planning to do as much as he could in the next ten years, because after that he estimated that there would not be enough water for him to do any farming.
Another difficulty the Palestinian farmers have is actually being able to export their produce. Cathi Pawson, who is one of the people who started Zaytoun, said that she had been in Palestine in 2004 as an observer, and as a "protective shield" for the Palestinians - if a white, European observer is there, often the Israeli troops will back off from doing bad things. At that time, there was a glut of olive oil, and the farmers had nowhere to sell it. Cathi and the group she was with decided to try to help, thinking at first that it would be on quite a small scale, but when they announced what they wanted to do back in the UK, they got a huge number of orders, and money sent to them, with the people sending the money saying that they were prepared to wait for the olive oil for as long as it took.
From that small beginning, they worked with a Palestinian NGO to get the olive oil to Haifa, the only port they can use. The olive oil is quite expensive, and this is not only because it is Fairtrade and organic, but because of the extra costs of transporting the products, by sea, and transferring from one truck to another at checkpoints. Also, the containers can only be loaded to the height a sniffer dog can jump, rather than be filled to the top.
There are two sorts of Zaytoun olive oil, clearly labelled - one being the organic Fairtrade certified, and the other being olive oil from the same co-operatives where the farmers couldn't afford the certification, but Zaytoun felt that they were still producing a quality product and deserved the chance to sell it.
As time has gone on, they have added other products to their range, such as almonds, herb mixtures, maftoul (a nutty Palestinian grain made from bulgar and wheat flour), freekeh (another sort of wheat grain), and medjoul dates. There was also some olive oil soap on sale on Ange's stall.
They do a lot of work with women farmers, especially with the herbs. One lady farmer was supposed to be coming to the UK to speak about her work. In fact there were supposed to be three visiting Palestinians, but only Taysir was able to get a visa. Bassema Barahmeh and another lady had their visa applications refused, but were only told two days before they were due to fly out - too late for them to appeal the decision. The reason they were given for the refusal was that they didn't have enough money in their bank accounts,and lack of family dependents to prove sufficient ‘ties to their home country’ - even though Zaytoun and Fairtrade were paying for everything while they were in the UK.
A member of the audience said that this also happens when people from Timbuktu try to come to Hay, for twin town events.
Taysir emphasised how important it was for the whole household economy to be improved by trade, which meant that it was important to involve the women of the families. What they wanted, he said, was to live a life with dignity - they weren't interested in what sort of political solution would be sorted out - One State, Two State, Three State - as long as they could live with dignity and continue to farm. The land is fertile, if there is enough water to irrigate in the summer.
And if they had access to their own land - often the olive farmers are only allowed to visit their groves for one month of the year, to harvest the olives, which means that any problems with the trees during the rest of the year cannot be dealt with.
One of the benefits of Fairtrade is the community dividend, which can be spent on projects that the local co-operatives agree on. This can be new classrooms for the local school, or a clinic, or roads - and again they have problems, as the Israelis demolish what they have built. Taysir spoke of one village where they have rebuilt the school five times in a year and a half, and said that this was the best way to resist - they keep knocking it down, and the Palestinians keep rebuilding. But it does mean that a lot of projects from charities such as Oxfam have their money wasted, because they pay for buildings which are then knocked down. Some farmers prefer to put the community dividend into tools, which are moveable.

And finally, a positive story from Hay:
A lady in the audience said that there had been a baptism last year, and when Father Richard arrived to take the service, he had forgotten the oil to anoint the baby. So the lady dashed home and got some olive oil out of her kitchen. The baptism proceeded as planned, and at the end, she was able to tell them that, not only was it Fairtrade and organic olive oil that had been used, but that it had come from the Holy Land, because it was Zaytoun olive oil!
At which Taysir smiled and said that some of the olive oil actually comes from Bethlehem, so is the holiest oil of all!
And Cathi said that a lot of British cathedrals now use Zaytoun olive oil in their services where anointing is required.

The Zaytoun website can be found at www.zaytoun.org

Friday, 24 February 2017

You Can't Predict the Weather!

Today, of course, it's bright and sunny.
Yesterday, when the Fairtrade group were supposed to be (wo)manning a stall on Hay Market, we had Storm Doris, and the Fire brigade had to be called to dismantle the stalls before they blew away!

Here's hoping the olive oil evening - in Cusop Hall on Friday 3rd March at 7pm - goes smoothly!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Planning for Fairtrade Fortnight

Plans are being finalised for the events of Fairtrade Fortnight, which this year will be 27th February to 12th March. The theme this year is Don't Feed Exploitation.

Here in Hay, there will be a tea stall on Hay Market on the 23rd February, on a Take a Break theme, where leaflets will be handed out to publicise the following week's events on the 2nd and 3rd of March(we're starting early!).
On the 2nd March, there will be no tea stall, but there will be volunteers at the Market.
On the 3rd March, Taysir Arbasi, Director Zaytoun Palestine, and Cathy Porson co-founder of Zaytoun and their Communications Officer will be at Cusop Village Hall from 7pm to 11pm. Zaytoun is the label for Palestinian Fairtrade goods such as olive oil (which is very good!), za'atar which is a Palestinian herb mix, maftoul and freekeh which are types of wheat grains, almonds and medjoul dates.
Wine will be available for donations, and there will be a tasting session.
Jo and Julia will also be doing a workshop at Hay School on 3rd March.