At a public town meeting on Thursday 27th April 2000 the people of Garstang voted for Garstang to become the world’s first Fairtrade Town.
While visiting Garstang, George Foulkes, the then Under Secretary of State for the Department of International Development said “The beacon that has started here in Garstang can spread like wildfire across the whole of the country and beyond.” Now, with Fairtrade Towns throughout the United Kingdom as well as many other countries across the globe, his prediction has proved correct.
Garstang became a Fairtrade Town primarily to promote the sale of products carrying the FAIRTRADE Mark, an international certification label that guarantees producers in developing countries get a fair deal. You can find the FAIRTRADE Mark on thousands of different products including coffee, tea, rice, bananas, chocolate, cocoa, cotton, sugar, honey, fruit juices, nuts, spices, wine, flowers, footballs and even gold.
In November 2001 Tony Robinson, of Blackadder and Time Team fame, unveiled a plaque (on the wall of the Old Council Offices) to commemorate Garstang as the world’s first Fairtrade Town. Harriet Lamb, Director of the Fairtrade Foundation then presented the first Fairtrade Town certificate to Garstang’s Mayor to launch the Fairtrade Town initiative to the world.
Garstang’s first fair trade retailer was The Mustard Seed, which opened in 1991. It has since expanded and now sells foods and crafts and houses a small fair trade information centre on Park Hill Road. There are now many outlets in Garstang selling products that carry the FAIRTRADE Mark.
Look out for Fairtrade Fortnight, which is held annually in early spring to promote awareness of the FAIRTRADE mark. Changing your shopping habits can make a lasting difference to producers in the developing world.
GARSTANG’S FAIR TRADE TRIANGULAR LINK
In February 2002 Garstang twinned with the fair trade cocoa farming community of New Koforidua in Ghana. Some of the cocoa grown there is used to make the popular Fairtrade chocolate Divine and Dubble bars.
In 2007 Media in Pennsylvania, United States of America formed a friendship with the Garstang and New Koforidua link which was named the Fair Trade Triangle. Media became the first Fair Trade Town in the USA in July 2006 after being inspired by the Garstang model.
It is perhaps appropriate that the three towns that make up this modern day Fair Trade Triangular link also lie in countries that made up the three points of the infamous slave trade triangle. This shows positive action today that goes some way to redress the actions of the past.
Pay a visit to the Mustard Seed where you can buy many Fairtrade products, use the new IT information centre and meet members of the Garstang Fairtrade Steering Group.