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Education Wednesday, 4 December, 2002, 14:56 GMT
Lunch Lesson 13 - Business and the community
a sign declaring Garstang as the world's first Fairtrade town
Garstang has been a Fairtrade town for over two years
It's unlikely that you'd connect Garstang in Lancashire with Ghana in Africa.

But for the last few years, that's precisely what one of the town's residents has been trying to do.

Through changing the shopping and coffee-drinking practices in the town, local vet Bruce Crowther is aiming to give Ghanaian farmers a helping hand out of poverty while giving local residents food for thought.


Bruce is an advocate of Fairtrade - paying producers a fair price for their work and challenging ways of trading which keep people poor.

And largely as a result of his efforts, he's made Garstang the first Fairtrade town in the world.


Bruce is motivated by nothing other than his desire to alleviate poverty.

Bruce Crowther
Bruce: "Fairtrade is easy to understand"
He has a full-time job as a vet, but in his spare time, he is a volunteer and an active campaigner with Oxfam.

"Fairtrade is an issue that is fairly easy to understand and act upon," he says. "And I know that it makes a difference."

The beginnings

Bruce and his fellow volunteers at the Garstang Oxfam Group started campaigning on Fairtrade in 1992, but it wasn't until 1997 that the group decided to get Fairtrade products used in local cafes and restaurants.

The campaign was slow to take off, but when the group switched its focus from coffee to chocolate, highlighting the plight of cocoa farmers in Ghana, the reception was noticeably warmer.

Have a look at Lunch Lesson seven from series two on the Day Chocolate Company.

Making Garstang a Fairtrade town

Slowly retailers and traders began using Fairtrade products, and in the autumn of 2000 Garstang Council officially adopted a policy to use and promote Fairtrade products.

But what does this mean to the local community, and have they noticed any difference?

Local business

In Garstang's Coffee Pot cafe, the owners, Avis and Steve Jones both feel that by adopting Fairtrade products they are doing something worthwhile, and their customers have no quibbles about drinking Fairtrade coffee.

Lyn Nickson, head of Garstang's Chamber of Commerce
Lyn: "It gets us noticed"
"Nearly all of our coffee is Fairtrade," explains Steve. "Our customers do have an option, but they rarely choose the alternative."

And even though prices have had to go up to accommodate the slightly more expensive Fairtrade products, nobody has complained.

Lyn Nickson is head of Garstang's Chamber of Commerce, she also owns the local DIY and kitchen shop.

She thinks that adopting Fairtrade has been good for the town, both morally and commercially.

"It's been good for Garstang, it gets us noticed, so that's good for business," she says.

"It shows that businesses can come together for a good cause."

Steve Jones, owner of Garstang's Coffee Pot café
Steve: feels he's doing something worthwhile
Lyn, like many of the traders in the town who don't have an outlet to sell Fairtrade products, is using the coffee and tea for staff and customers in the shop.

The same is true of the local barbers Kwik Kutz and the hairdresser, Top Knot.

Limited range

Fairtrade products are limited to tea, coffee and cocoa.

The local newsagent Corburn's stocks just one Fairtrade product, the Dubble Bar.

The shop's owner Ian Corburn says that because the product range is limited, awareness about it is low.

This obviously impacts its sales.

'The sale of the product varies," explains Ian. "When there is a campaign on like Comic Relief or something going on in the local schools, then they sell. But it needs promoting far more to get it to sell as well as its rival chocolate bars."

Divine chocolate, a Fairtrade product
90 of 100 traders stock fair trade products
The product itself is also more expensive.

There are very few cost reductions to be made from buying in bulk and because none of the local suppliers in Lancashire buy it Ian has to go direct to the Day Chocolate Company.

But Ian is committed to continuing to sell the Dubble bars and has taken over the buying of it for some of the smaller shops in town.

At the other end of the scale supermarkets like the Co-op have been one step ahead in widening their Fairtrade product range and now stock products like Fairtrade wine and mangoes.

Wider issues

But it's not just about the Fairtrade products themselves.

Realising the relevance of fair trade to farmers around rural Garstang, who also want a fair price for their produce, part of the campaign has been to promote the use of locally grown and produced goods.

Garstang has a population of 4000 with just over 100 traders. 90 of these now proudly support Fairtrade and local produce.


Thanks to people like Bruce and his links with the local community, the awareness of Fairtrade is definitely improving.

Fairtrade products sales have recently increased, and Café Direct is now one of the leading brands of coffee sold in the UK.

Bruce is confident that Garstang's move has made a difference to the lives of farmers in Ghana, because he's been there to see for himself.

And in a recent survey in Garstang no less than 71% of locals recognised the Fairtrade mark. That compares with around 20% nationally.

a Fairtrade product
People in Garstang now recognise Fairtrade
"Grass roots action is key in building relations with the community and awareness raising," says Katy McDermott, the campaigns officer for Oxfam North West.

And with the worldwide slump in coffee prices, many Third World farmers are struggling for survival. Adopting a Fairtrade policy in your town, could make a big difference.

For more information about making your town or village a Fairtrade one you can contact the Fairtrade Foundation on 020 7405 5942.

Student guide

Garstang is a small town with a big mission.

It's a town which knows something about farming as it's in a rural part of Lancashire.

Bruce Crowther, a vet, didn't see why farmers in other parts of the world should only receive a fraction of the value of their products.

People who grow cocoa beans, coffee and a range of other products in less developed countries are often at the mercy of big companies which buy their products very cheaply.

We certainly like our chocolate and coffee cheap - but should it be at the expense of the farmers in countries like Ghana?

Find out more about Fairtrade from Garstang's Fairtrade website:

Use the links on the page to work out the answers to the following questions.

Just think...

What is meant by Fairtrade?

How did Garstang persuade people to join in?

How effective were their efforts?

What's the product?

Working Lunch looked at one of the businesses which makes Fairtrade chocolate.

It is run by cocoa growers who are involved in a business which produces chocolate in Europe.

Find out more about Divine.

There are all sorts of other products which have earned the Fairtrade logo.

They range from wine and orange juice to a whole range of chocolate products.

Next time you are in a supermarket, see what you can find.

Some products are hitting the headlines but others need more marketing.

In the Garstang sweet shop, Ian Corburn knows when something is going on when sales of Dubble chocolate bars rises.

When the local school is focusing on Fairtrade or it's Comic Relief time - sales go up.

Just think... If you were given the job of advertising Dubble bars, what would you do?

Think about its special features and work out your marketing strategy.

Now check out how Dubble goes about it.

Did Dubble use any strategies that you didn't think of? Work out why?

Selling the products

All sorts of businesses in Garstang are now selling or using Fairtrade products. Find out who is doing what.

The Co-op has joined the Fairtrade business in a big way.

It's decided that all it's own brand chocolate will be Fairtrade. Find out more about Co-op chocolate

Just think...

Make a table showing the businesses in Garstang, what they do and how they are using Fairtrade products.

Why do you think these businesses are committed to Fairtrade?

Gains for Garstang

It's not only the people in less developed countries who gain from Garstang's initiative.

Lynne Nixon, head of Garstang's Chamber of Commerce says it's good for Garstang too.

She represents the businesses in the local area and reckons that the publicity from being the first Fairtrade town has brought people in.

When they arrive, they spend their money in the shops and cafés.

Just think...

How does it help Garstang when people spend money in the shops and cafés?

Dan Roan reports
"It could be any other market town, but it's actually rather special"
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