The Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival is back, and for the second year running The Fair Traders Cooperative took part, with Fairtrade themed activities happening across the whole weekend. This ranged from food tasting to craft sessions and drumming, a talk by Just Trading Scotland’s John Riches to cooking demonstrations, and of course, The Fair Traders Cooperative’s rice challenge!
This year The Fair Traders Cooperative chose to theme their part in Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival around rice, launching the rice challenge at the beginning of September. The aim of this campaign is to ‘eat people out of poverty’ by selling at least 90kg of fair trade rice from Malawi during September, and another 90kg over the festival weekend. In doing this, for every 90kg sold at The Fair Traders Cooperative for a fair price, a farmer in Malawi earns sufficient income to send one child to high school.
As Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival kicked off, a pile of rice 90 bags high could be seen stacked up on the Holme Valley Fairtrade Support Group stall. Having sold the 90th kilogramme bag of rice well before Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival had even begun, staff and volunteers of The Fair Traders Cooperative and Holme Valley Fairtrade Support Group were eager to get stuck into selling the next 90kg, and by lunch time the heap had halved! Accompanying the rice pile on the fair trade stall was delicious coffee tasting from ethical coffee companies Oromo and Bolling Coffee, which supplies the well known Grumpy Mule fair trade coffee range.
Leaving the Holme Valley Fairtrade Support Group stall, giant orange and silver footprints led from Holmfirth’s market hall, along Huddersfield Road to The Fair Traders Cooperative shop. Here we were treated to a very interesting talk by John Riches from Just Trading Scotland. Just Trading Scotland is a non-profit company which imports the Kilombero rice on which the rice challenge is focused. John told listeners all about the rice farmers and the different fair trade makes to their lives, and explained the many difficulties involved in getting fairly traded rice milled, cleaned and exported from a land-locked country such as Malawi. This talk reinforced the importance of buying fairly traded instead of your every day rice, and made clear the difficulties rice farmers face in getting a fair price for their produce in Malawi. A key way of escaping the problem of rural poverty, we were told, is through education, which underlines the importance for these farmers of selling enough of their rice to pay for an education for their children. After listening to the presentation, Anna Watson of The Fair Traders Cooperative said, “How great it would be if we could achieve this amount over just one weekend!”
The next event on The Fair Traders Cooperative list was a cooking demonstration in the main market hall. Every seat in the hall was filled, and the walls of the room lined with spectators, as viewers were taken through the steps of how to cook ‘Feel Good Malawi Chicken’, presented by The Fair Traders Cooperative’s Mark and Maggie. Not only did we learn how to make a fantastic peanut chicken stew using Fairtrade ingredients, but we found out lots about the products used during the demonstration. This included Zaytoun Palestinian olive oil, Steenbergs spices, Liberation peanut butter, & you guessed it….. Kilombero Fairtrade rice from Malawi! The audience was also able to taste this fantastic stew and rice combo as the demonstration came to an end, sampling the rice involved in the rice challenge. Audience member Nick Batty told us that “This rice is very tasty! I will definitely be after my bag of rice now – not only is it delicious, but I get to do my good deed for the day. I might even cook this stew with it!” This recipe can be found on The Fair Traders Cooperative website (click here) for all to try out with their own bag of Malawi rice.
At the end of the first day, The Fair Traders Cooperative was well on target to achieve their goal for the weekend, having sold 84kg of the Fairtrade Kilombero rice from Malawi by 5pm on Saturday. This meant that only 6 of the 1kg bags had to be sold on Sunday to reach the target.
On the second day of Holmfirth Food and Drink Festival, guests of The Fair Traders Cooperative were entertained by The Holmfirth Drummers, with exciting beats and rhythms to dance and shake to in the Upper Bridge Quarter Gardens, opposite the shop. Accompanying this, onlookers were encouraged to recycle by making their own musical instruments from plastic containers and bottle tops at the junk modelling craft table nearby. Meanwhile, inside at The Fair Traders Cooperative celebrations were taking place, as by 1pm the target was not only reached, but exceeded by 2 whole bags! The Fair Traders Cooperative had achieved their target, helped by all the supporters who had purchased just one bag of rice across the festival weekend.
But it doesn’t stop there, The Fair Traders Cooperative is aiming to send a THIRD child school in Malawi, and they are already nearly there! So get down to The Fair Traders Cooperative, or buy your bag online at http://www.thefairtraderscoopertive.co.uk to be part of this fantastic campaign!
Posted by: Sophie Bebb