It is now 18 years since the market town of Garstang was recognised as the world’s first Fair Trade Town.
With a small but dedicated and passionate FairTrade steer group, towns across the globe began to follow suit and to date there are more than 2000 Fair Trade towns in 30 countries worldwide, including London, Paris, Rome Madrid to Brussels to Copenhagen, Oslo, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Vancouver and Wellington in New Zealand.
Garstang’s Fair Trade pioneer and the founder of Fair Trade Towns Bruce Crowther MBE, in 2011 opened international Fair Trade Visitor Centre The FIG Tree in Garstang. The premises has since been re homed in Lancaster.
The educational centre in The Priory at Castle Hill hosts frequent events and is home to a unique exhibition focusing on fair trade and trade injustice.
Visitors are welcomed to chocolate making workshops and treats in the dedicated Fairtrade shop and cafe.
But it is also serves for a platform for Bruce’s work around the world, which next month takes him to the capital of South Korea Seoul, where on July 7 they will also join the Fair Trade town movement.
With a population of just under 10 million Seoul will declare as the world’s largest Fair Trade City
Bruce will be there to speak at the event.
He said: “I am proud of what The FIG Tree has achieved and the support it has attracted both locally and internationally since setting up in 2011, but especially after the flooding.
"Looking to the future we now need to call on that support to help us build up our capacity in the hope that we may be able to establish new premises in Lancaster and enable us to continue our good work.
“We hope people will come forward.”
After having to relocate from Garstang in 2015, The FIG Tree moved to St. John’s Church in Lancaster but following the severe floods in December the same year, the centre was forced to move again.
The FIG Tree was originally set up as a social enterprise to help support the movement. Following the devastating flooding in 2015, The FIG Tree received donations from across the world including money raised during a Christmas party held in Seoul.
It was these donations which have helped to keep The FIG Tree going and it has since become a cooperative to attract new members and help build up its capacity.
Before becoming Mayor of Seoul Mr. Won Soon Park visited Garstang to speak with Bruce and learn more about Fair Trade Towns in 2010.
Mr Park became mayor two years later, he says: “I’ve personally visited Garstang, England, the first Fair Trade Town in the world and met Mr. Bruce Crowther to learn how to make a Fair Trade Town successfully.
“We will do our best and we will encourage more people to be involved in the Fair Trade movement.”
Mr. Crowther attended the launch of the Seoul Fair Trade City campaign in 2013 and now five years later Seoul is ready to join the movement.
Bruce adds: “The FIG Tree became a cooperative in 2017 and now aims to increase our membership and help raise funds to enable us to establish new premises in central Lancaster.”
The FIG Tree links with cocoa farmers in New Koforidua, Ghana – Africa’s first Fair Trade Town. Ghanaian Fairtrade cocoa beans are used by The FIG Tree to make its own
bean to bar chocolate sold in outlets in and around Lancaster.
The centre became a cooperative in November 2017 to widen its membership and increase capacity. The FIG Tree requires new members and funding to help it acquire,
refurbish and maintain new premises
The FIG Tree @ The Priory cafe and chocolate shop is now open most Saturdays from 10.30am – 3.30pm. Please check the details under ‘Cafe/Shop’ on this website to ensure the cafe is open and avoid disappointment.