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Two days and many cups of Fair Trade Way Tea

Posted by Charles Price Campaigner and shop volunteer, Manchester

27th Sep 2012

FairtradewaylancasterThis August, I joined some amazing people walking from Garstang to Keswick to show the support for the fair trade values and to celebrate Oxfam's 70th birthday. I joined the route of the Fair Trade Way for two days between Lancaster and Kendal.

The beginning

My journey started in Manchester with a hot, dark tea and heavy scatterings of sugar, very early on Saturday morning, so that I could join the walkers and well-wishers by the 'Captured Africans' slave trade memorial in Lancaster at half past eight.

Before we set off, we had the opportunity to meet Eric Ollerenshaw, a local MP. We discussed fair trade issues and linked milk prices for dairy farmers with fair trade for farmers right across the world.

We took off meandering beside the Lancaster Canal. During the walk, the rain was coming down full and in broad sweeps. Hest Bank, at the bay crossing, offered a place for a tea break and tweets! Although the rain was persistent, the fair trade walkers kept their spirits up and were ready to continue relentlessly. Following the coast to Carnforth where a luncheon awaited!

Camforth's train station, where we dived into our snacks, once 'played a part' in the 'Brief Encounter' movie. Nicola performed some directing while filming Bruce of the Figtree. He is one of the brains behind all this and he managed to squeeze the words 'brief encounter' into a video clip recorded to promote this great walk.

But it's not just munching and filming.

Six days of hiking offers a great space to share ideas about changes everybody can do. Consider coffee - allegedly the second most valuable traded commodity after oil. Why is that those who produce it are not rewarded fairly for their hard work?

Daily, little things can make a big difference. To emphasise this, the participants indulged on fair trade nibbles and drinks. Any shopping on the way should have been done in outlets that stock fair trade produce. This way, retailers who joined the movement were supported. And more we have in, the more fair trade becomes normal trade.

fairtradewaycelebratingstrengthSquelching the way - though I was still blessed by the comfort of dry socks - we reached Quaker church in Warton at tea time. Here, I learnt more about the links between Quakers, the slave abolitionists and the fair trade towns. Lancaster used to be one of the prominent slave trade ports. It is an interesting parallel. I think there is a small step from not considering all people equal and not treating them equal. And fair trade is about equal treatment. Why should small scale farmers not be equal when they are helping to feed the world?

Next, moving through the RSPB nature reserve at Leighton Moss we headed toward Arnside Knott, pass quarries, and then to Arnside itself. I could not resist local outrageously popular fish and chip shop. Though I was late for the tonight's talk, I still heard Bruce passionately talking about fair trade in Garstang and the origins of the fair trade way. Talks and story-telling were great features of every evening of the walk. I went to bed inspired and motivated to take some little steps myself.

Up and at 'em!

Sunday started with photo taking and posing as we set off for the long haul to Keswick. Sunday's route roamed along the coast for a short while before moving inland and heading to Kendal and The Waterside Cafe.

At the Kendal's Waterside Cafe, we were treated to our story telling event earlier in the day than usual - little red hen, dead farmer and trade justice lobster make a remarkable tale! Well done Jennie Bailey - story teller extrodinaire.

And with this, my time on the fair trade way came to an end. Fond farewells. I learnt a lot. And I would like to do more to spread the word about fair trade! My next 80, 800, 8000 mugs of tea are going to have a fair trade label on.

Going Global

Also to spread the journey even further I tweeted Oxfam from New Zealand. I used to live there and hope that they too might go on to walk with us on their own fair trade way.

And that's how the fair trade way will continue. It did not finish with the end of the walk. It will go on with the actions all of us will take.

Impressed? Feeling inspired? Why not join us in taking at least one more step or sip for fair trade?

Blog post written by Charles Price

Campaigner and shop volunteer, Manchester

More by Charles Price