Fairwind Fair Trees Finalist in the Greats Awards 2012
Fairwind and Fair Trees are finalists in the gift industry’s prestigious “The Great Awards 2012”. Being finalists in the Best Retailer Initiative category is a great endorsement for the efforts that Fairwind and Fair Trees have made towards changing the lives of cone pickers in Georgia.
The winners will be announced at the Awards ceremony at the Lancaster Hotel, London, on 17th May 2012.
Teresa Owen, owner of Fairwind says “This is wonderful news for Fairwind, Fair Trees and the cone pickers of Georgia. We hope that the publicity surrounding this award nomination will help make more people aware of the serious ethical issues that the European Christmas tree industry needs to address.”
Fairwind has been campaigning to make Nordmann Fir Christmas trees in the UK fair trade. Working with the only grower of fair trade Christmas trees (Fair Trees) in the world, Bols Forstplanteskole in Denmark, Fairwind is trying to educate consumers and retailers about the ethical issues surrounding real Christmas trees. Fairwind is also hoping to sign up the first UK grower of Fair Trees this year. And every Christmas Fairwind sells Fair Trees through its website; at the moment Fairwind is the only source of fair trade Christmas trees in the UK. For more information on Fair Trees please see notes below.
Teresa Owen also managed to persuade Katie Melua to become a supporter and patron of the Fair Trees initiative and a film of her meeting the owners of Fair Trees can be seen at http://player.vimeo.com/video/32878981?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0.
Fairwind is also working in partnership with Fair Trees and an insurance repairs business, MA Assist, to raise £10,000 to renovate a local school in the cone picking region of Georgia. The project should be completed summer 2012.
The Greats Awards
The Greats Awards are owned and organised by Progressive Gifts and Home worldwide (published by Max Publishing). They recognise and celebrate not only the top independent and multiple gift retailers regionally and nationally, but also one-off niche retailers, garden centres as well as outstanding retail employees.
Now in their tenth year, the Greats Awards have been the accolade to strive for – and the Awards event itself has become one of the most exciting and vibrant in the country. It brings together an entire industry for a night of celebration.
About 5 million Nordmann Fir Christmas trees are sold in the UK each year. But until now, very few people in the UK have been aware of the serious ethical issues behind buying these trees at Christmas. Although they are farmed the seeds for Nordmann Firs are sourced from natural forests, mainly in Georgia.
Harvesting of the seeds in Georgia is carried out by hand under remarkably primitive conditions in a poor and remote region called Ambrolauri. Here the locals are mainly subsistence farmers for whom the cone harvest is their only source of real income. These Georgian cone pickers climb up 30 metre high fir trees in order to collect the cones from which the seeds are harvested. They work entirely without safety equipment and every year someone is injured or even killed. The cones are processed and sold onto the multi-billion European Christmas tree industry.
Fair Trees are fair trade Nordmann Fir Christmas trees grown in Denmark with fair trade accreditation from the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). The trees are grown by Bols Forstplanteskole, a successful Danish Christmas tree grower that is taking on the European Christmas tree industry by challenging the way things are done.
Fair Trees source their own seeds from their own officially licensed lots in the forests. They provide the cone pickers with a decent wage, as well as modern safety equipment and training and health insurance should the worse happen. On other lots people are still being killed and injured as they collect cones for other organisations not so concerned with their welfare. To see the good and bad of cone picking go to view the video at http://www.bolsxmastreefund.com/video-en.php
Fair Trees has also set up a charitable fund in Georgia, The Bols Xmas Tree Fund, to generate funds for investing in the local community and providing training and safety equipment for local cone pickers. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of Fair Trees and Fair Seeds goes into this Fund.
Fairwind imports and sells Fair Trees online every Christmas. Fairwind has also been campaigning in the UK to educate consumers about the ethical issues surrounding the Nordmann Fir Christmas tree and to persuade retailers and growers to start growing Fair trees themselves.
Any Christmas tree grower in Europe can grow Fair Trees if they agree to a few ethical guidelines. They have to grow their trees from Fair Seeds (or from saplings grown from Fair Seeds), follow responsible farming accreditation guidelines and comply with local labour laws. Then for small license fee, most of which goes to a charitable fund in Georgia that helps the local community there, the growers can sell their trees as fair trade Christmas trees, or Fair Trees.
Take up in Germany and Denmark has been good but the UK is way behind – there are no Fair Trees growers in the UK, although there are growers who buy Fair Seed from Fair Trees. A company called Fairwind imports Fair Trees from Denmark each Christmas and sells them online. Although this isn’t environmentally sustainable, it does at least give the UK access to fair trade trees.
Fair Trees is supported by Katie Melua, the multi-platinum selling singer and songwriter, who was born in Georgia and lived there until she was 8 years old.
“I am absolutely thrilled that fair trade has reached the poor cone pickers of Georgia. Fair Trees® is a wonderful project that helps improve the lives of many people in remote areas of Georgia, the country where I was born. I urge anyone who loves a real Christmas tree to buy a fair trade one this year – after all, it won’t cost any more than a non-fair trade tree”. Katie Melua
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