I was absolutely ecstatic when I found out that I had won People Tree’s Fair Trade Day competition! I had received a general outline for the day, but I had no idea that I would learn and experience so much in a single day!
We were accompanied throughout the day by People Tree’s public relations officer, Mia Hadrill and Safia Minney as well! We were very honoured to have the CEO of People Tree hanging out with us all day!
The day began at Divine Chocolate where we were met by the Managing Director Sophi Tranchell. I was impressed that someone so high level would come down and speak to us about what Fair Trade means to Divine – I guess they are just so passionate about spreading the word about Fair Trade that they’re happy to take time out of their busy schedules to educate and inform the public. It was really enlightening to hear about all the work that Divine do in regards to Fair Trade. I had no idea that part of having a Fair Trade agreement meant that Divine also did things like create local village schools for the children of the village in order to improve opportunities and education for those working in the Fair Trade cocoa industry.
We ended the talk at Divine by tasting some of their chocolate, including two new flavours that won’t even be released until the Christmas season. These were milk chocolate with apple and spice and dark chocolate with pear and ginger – it really made me think of the holidays! I was already so happy having tasted all this excellent chocolate that I was even more excited when we were given a goody bag of virtually one of everything from their chocolate collection!
We then went to People Tree’s head office where they have all of their new collections laid out for us to see – they look amazing! We got a tour around the office and several different members of the People Tree team came down and spoke to us about People Tree’s ethos and all of the work they do in the countries where they get their materials made.
Again, I was blown away with how much work they did in these other countries to ensure that the high standards of the World Fair Trade Organisation were being upheld. All the producers are not only given the opportunity to make these great products and be paid a fair price for it, they are also given opportunities to learn a new trade, or receive things that will enrich their lives. An example of this that I was especially moved by was the wheelchair campaign that People Tree carried out in Kenya with the Bombolulu company. We watched a video of Safia Minney herself in Kenya distributing wheelchairs to disabled children. I never realised that being a Fair Trade company meant also giving so much back to the community!
Watch the Wheelchair Campaign Video by clicking here.
We had a break in the day to go get some lunch at Suzzle on Brick Lane. We got to eat some fantastic food there that also happened to be gluten free! I had the goat’s cheese and red pepper quiche, which had an excellent tanginess and a crunchy crust. It was a tough decision to make as I was also eyeing up the bacon, cheese and potato pastie. Melanie, the owner and head chef came down to talk to us about her cafe and, although she was very modest, was also very pleased to have been selected for a spotlight in the Financial Times Culture section and was excited for the interview taking place the following day. She also mentioned how local (and quite famous!) artists Gilbert & George often come in to pick up pasties for their lunch while they are working. We were all a bit starstruck when Gilbert Prousch himself came in to order pasties about 15 minutes later. We ended our lunch by having some moist, decadent cakes – the Fair Trade dark chocolate brownie was especially memorable!
I thought the day couldn’t possibly get any better, but just before we left People Tree, Mia directed us toward a table full of Fair Trade goodies that were for us to take home! There were Fair Trade herbs and spices, clothing from People Tree (including a Zandra Rhodes purple seashell dress that is absolutely beautiful!), jewellery from People Tree and even more chocolate! I was also very touched that Mia managed to find some People Tree items for babies (I’m currently 8 months pregnant) so now I have organic, Fair Trade bibs, hats and booties for my son!
After we left People Tree, we were taken over to The Zetter Townhouse Hotel where we were staying for the night. The Zetter hotel carries out all sorts of sustainable business practices and the hotel definitely lives up to their high eco-friendly standards. Despite being one of the most eco-friendly hotels in London, the Zetter still managed to be stylish and luxurious at the same time. I loved the layout of the building, the friendly staff, the rain shower and the (much-needed) air conditioning (that switches off automatically when you leave the room or open the windows).
After a short rest, we headed over to meet Safia and Mia again at the Duke of Cambridge organic restaurant and pub for dinner. It was a bustling pub that looked very popular – it seemed unlikely that such a popular pub would also do good food. However, I was quickly proven wrong as their locally-sourced, organic menu was very impressive. I had scallops in a garlic butter to start that were absolutely divine. My main course was a new and unique dish I had never heard of before that involved a mixture of lentils, rice and pasta in a tomato sauce, which was simple but delicious. For dessert, I had a plum crème brulee that was rich and creamy with just the right amount of tartness from the plums. My husband had a mixed berry cheesecake that he said was the best cheesecake he’d ever had!
It was an absolutely perfect day where I not only learned so much about Fair Trade, but I also got to be completely immersed in it throughout the day whilst hanging out with the exceptional and inspirational Safia Minney and Mia Hadrill. They made sure that our Fair Trade day would never be forgotten!
Thank you so much People Tree!