Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The Fairtrade Family Gets Everywhere by Harriet Lamb

It really is all over. On Cape Town High Streets, the workmen are taking down the endless football-themed lights; the kids are back to school after a special extra month's holiday to watch the matches and when we go to Fair View vineyard they declare 'Beat the Post-World Cup depression, buy this wine.' But the vineyards are far from depressed. It seems that the World Cup has given a welcome boost to South African wines overseas. Until now, they say, many people in the West had no idea that South Africa was a distinct country from Southern Africa. In fact, they've all been killing themselves over a foreign TV news programme which had the World Cup emblem all over South America!

Fair View is the home of the eccentric Goats do Roam (which could just possibly sound like Cote Du Rhone) wine. There really are goats roaming the farm and award-winning goat cheeses. But the French were not amused and took the company to court. Beating them at their own game, the vineyard workers turned up outside the Embassy for a 'toi-toi' or demo with plenty of placard-waving. Finally the courts ruled in the South African's favour. So they've kept the joke going. Try for example their 'Bored Doe'.

Fair View now also own a number of Fairtrade wines. Look out for their Six Hats, for Hope's Garden in Asda and the Fairtrade Pinotage in Sainsburys - they all come from Bergendal, one of the Fairtrade certified farms that we visit who grow a range of crops. The sun is out, shining on the beautiful mountains and orange groves, and the sheep are grazing round the roobois tea bushes as the charming owner shows us round the creche, the pre-school, the community hall, the school facilities, the sports fields - all built with the Fairtrade premium. Everyone is off to play in a local rugby tournament, this being South Africa, but we catch up with Leizel, one of the Joint Body workers who has worked her way up to be a supervisor at their roobois tea factory. She tells us that her next ambition is to learn to drive. We talk about Fairtrade as a global family.

On the way to Fair View's restaurant, we stop to admire the breath-taking view across the vast valley and the unique flora and fauna of this area including the Proteus flowers that are such a symbol of South Africa. At the viewing point, a family have set up a 'braai' - or the ever-popular barbeque - the kids are playing around the steep slopes watched nervously by their mother. We get chatting and it soon turns out that the man markets Fairtrade citrus to the UK! Soon, the braai is interrupted by talk of minimum prices and the need to increase sales of Fairtrade oranges. Meeting the Fairtrade standards is difficult and expensive for farms, especially in South Africa where Fairtrade insisted on farms linking into the Government's Black Economic Empowerment scheme to transfer ownership and management to the black communities. So, they need enough sales to make it worthwhile and so far, apart from bananas, Fairtrade fruit isnot so well known. He's pleased to hear that we are launching a Fairtrade fruit campaign in the autumn.

Amazed at the coincidence, we go on to have a delicious lunch of goats cheese and, obviously, wine at Fair View. Before long, the young man on the next door table comes shyly over: 'Do you remember me.' he asks. 'I once volunteered at the Fairtrade Foundation. It was five years ago when I was a student travelling around Europe and I spent a few months in the Fairtrade office'. This Fairtrade family certainly gets everywhere!

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