Our next steps on the Fair Trade Way

Posted by Charles Price Campaigner and shop volunteer, Manchester

30th May 2013

Sunday, 19th  May, as part of the Garstang Walking Festival, Charles Price, Bruce Crowther and a merry gaggle of walkers set out to complete a new leg and 16 mile extension to the Fair Trade Way between Garstang, the original fair trade town, and Preston. Meeting under the clock at bus stop number five, Preston Bus Station, the group cut through Preston town centre and onto the Lancaster Canal and the Fair Trade Way.

So, before you all clamour and throng to ask, "Ahoy! What is this Fair Trade Way?" The Fair Trade Way is a long distance heritage route along which walkers using it as such are encouraged to keep to the principles of fair trade, so, for instance, purchasing fair trade products. It's worth having a look at its website to get an idea of the origin of the route and the ethos that surrounds it.

Walking bank side in the late Spring and not being cursed with bad weather, it was a grand day to roam the tow path and catch up with old fair trade friends, Belinda and Graham, Danny, and Bruce, who all had a part in the creation and development of the Fair Trade town movement and the Fair Trade way. Swans and cygnets, pylons, cows, ducklings, drakes, moorhens and barges, the group moved through the miles.

We stopped for lunch at Woodplumpton and got into our feed in the churchyard, where we were shown the marked grave of a local witch by our guide for the day. With the occasional stop and the promise of hard liquor at some sunny pubs further down the way, some certain members of the group having had their palates piqued with cider at lunch, we moseyed on along the reeds. Rope marks cut on the stone work of bridges, worn from the towing of barges through the narrow passes, probably too low for barge horses to pass under.

Into the last few miles of the winding walk, we left the Lancaster Canal and moved onto the River Wyre into Garstang, home of the Dub Step-ping Kawasaki queen and legendary DJ, Mary Anne Hobbs. But also, home of The FIG Tree, the world's first international Fair Trade Visitor Centre, set in the middle of the world's first Fair Trade Town.

Why is this important? Why the Fair Trade Way? Well, I think it's very simple. It's important, as part of the wider Fair Trade movement, to ensure that people growing and farming, for instance, whether it is cocoa beans or bananas, receive a fair value for their produce and it's important to be able, through walks along the Fair Trade Way, to draw attention to a more ethical approach to what we consume and what it is we are buying, and it doesn't have to be just about food. Equally, it can be about clothing and why the ethical consideration of what and where you buy your clothes is as vital an issue.

But, why the Fair Trade Way? As we learn from the Fair Trade Visitor Trade Centre, Garstang forms a part of the Fair Trade Triangle with the cocoa farming community and Africa's first Fair Trade Town of New Koforidua, in Ghana and Media, in Pennsylvania, the first Fair Trade Town in America. This modern day Fair Trade Triangle replaces the three corners of what was the slave trade triangle of the past, but at the same time, it highlights ongoing inequality in the world and that is the reason behind the Fair Trade Way. Why not let Bruce tell you more about it in this video here.There are more and more Fair Trade Way routes being walked and extended throughout the UK and the world, so why not consider walking one of the route (or adding a route) yourself?

This is another motivation.

Waffles and ice cream with tea at The FIG Tree cafe, at the end of the walk. Fair and delicious.

Blog post written by Charles Price

Campaigner and shop volunteer, Manchester

More by Charles Price