Fairtrade Fortnight 2010 in Frome
Frome people could scarcely have failed to notice the Fairtrade Fortnight Banner which nestled coyly against the scaffolding at the lower end of Stony Street from 22nd February to 7th March this year.
The Fairtrade Frome group were once again actively at work trying to increase awareness and use of Fairtrade products (now more than 4500) in Frome. Now it’s not such uphill work as in 2003 when Frome became only the 11th town in Britain to become a Fairtrade Town. Most people today recognise the logo and many people regularly buy Fairtrade goods.
This year the emphasis was on tea; out of 165 million cups of tea drunk each day in Britain, only 10% are Fairtrade. So the national Fairtrade Foundation proposed the idea of the Big Swap – change your usual brand for a Fairtrade one. To try to encourage Frome residents to do this a variety of activities were planned. On a sunny, if cold 5th March, our MP, David Heath took tea with the Mayor, Damon Hooton in the Westway Precinct, accompanied by a delicious Fairtrade Chocolate Brownie cake.
And on a grey and bitterly cold Saturday morning, members of Fairtrade Frome attempted to give away FREE tea bags, much to the distrust of some passers-by. Tea for two music was provided by our ‘Char Ladies’, Annabelle (accordion) and Julie (clarinet), with Paul on guitar. Leaflets exhorting people it was Time for a Fairly decent cup of tea, also informed them of Frome’s many cafes who now provide Fairtrade refreshments.Every year Frome’s schools enthusiastically join in the Fairtrade campaign. First & Middle Schools were invited to make collages from tea bags, leaves and stains.
Some held Mad Hatter’s tea parties and others sent photographs of the most unusual place to drink a cuppa to the local press.
Year 10 Food Technology students at Frome College were given a challenge. To plan, source and produce a tea party menu using as many Fairtrade ingredients as possible – the results were impressive…. and delicious. And, as part of the curriculum concerning food choices, eg, Fairtrade rather than non-Fairtrade, organic vs non-organic, the students actively learned about the importance of supporting both producers in the developing world as well as local farmers.
We provided Fairtrade refreshments for the successful Apple Day. There were hot drinks and apple juice as well as very popular Apple Cake made by the children of the Key Centre Nursery.
Westway Precinct echoed to the sounds of Caribbean songs in praise of Fairtrade Bananas as Fairtrade Fortnight drew to a close The Fairtrade group in Frome, accompanied by the rhythmic singing and playing of Café Caliente – a banana band extraordinaire encouraged members of the public to sample Fairtrade bananas and give their support to the national campaign instigated by the Fairtrade Foundation. See the band performing in Frome
Banana growers in the Developing World have terrible working conditions and their local environments are often ruined by toxic chemicals while they are kept in poverty by unfair trade rules. Three years ago a Banana grower from the Windward Island, Regina Joseph, visited Frome and told pupils at Hayesdown, Trinity and St Johns’ what a difference Fairtrade had made to her life. She now has a fair price for her bananas, can plan for the future, send her children to school and her community has a playing field and new school roof while she grows without toxic chemicals. Other growers will only have a life like Regina if we demand more Fairtrade bananas so the National campaign aims to tip the balance in the market so that by 2012 over 50% of bananas sold in UK will be Fairtrade ones.
Thanks to generosity of The Co-op, Marks and Spencer. Sainsbury and Somerfield – people in Frome were being encouraged to change their buying habits. Look for the Fairtrade Logo when you next buy some bananas and know you are making a real difference, not only to the producer’s life, but that of their family and community as well.
Ready, Steady – Fairtrade – Cook
Following last year’s success of the Fairtrade version of Ready Steady Cook, on Wednesday 25 February, members of Fairtrade Frome organised a repeat performance at Frome Community College, the first Fairtrade event for Fairtrade Fortnight 2009.
Students and staff from the college worked with well-known local chefs to cook against the clock using Fairtrade and locally produced ingredients. Sarah Hillman, of African Kitchen, who has appeared on Come Dine With Me on BBC television, worked with Jo Love and Ian Carr, both of whom teach at Frome College. Her opponent was Ronnie Bonetti, Head Chef at Babington House, whose assistants were Jordan Andrews, Year 9, the winner and Harry Cornish, Year 11, runner up in this year’s Rotary Master Chef competition.
At the start of the contest, the two students presented Ronnie Bonetti with a Fairtrade cotton bag containing Fairtrade Chocolate, pineapple, walnuts and ginger biscuits. The teachers challenged Sarah Hillman to produce a savoury dish from Fairtrade rice, mango, cashew nuts and local chicken from Cayford’s Butchers.
This year’s compere was Keith Brindle, who was a teacher contestant last year. He interviewed the chefs during the cook-off, discovering that Ronnie Bonetti had trained in Australia, had then worked in the Caribbean and come to England to work at the River Café, before moving to Babington last year. While distracting Sarah Hillman from the cut and thrust of the competition, he found out that she had always enjoyed cooking and thought nothing of rustling up a meal for a 100 people. Most people in Frome will have sampled her unique east African dishes at Frome Festival’s Food Fest.
As the event took place during the last hour of school time, it was watched by an enthusiastic audience of students, staff, Principal Wendy Missons, local people and Cllr Blanche Farley, former Mayor, who was very keen to sample the dishes produced by the two teams. Keith led the audience in a noisy final countdown to the 30 minute challenge between the competitors. Then came the vote from the audience…. It was a close run thing, but in the end it was declared that Sarah and her teachers were the winners for their curried chicken, coconut and rice, which was accompanied by a mango salad. The runners-up made two delicious desserts: individual caramelised pineapple tart tatin and ginger cheesecakes.
Dinah Bardgett ended the entertaining afternoon by thanking everyone who had given their time, energy, help and hard work to the event: all the participants, Su King and her Food Technology team, the Media Arts team and the main provider of ingredients, the Co-op in Culverhill, Frome.