Fairwind Presentation of £10,000 cheque for Tlugi school
On 30th June 2012 Teresa Owen from Fairwind and Paul Hayman, MD of MA Assist, travelled to Odense in Denmark to hand over the £10,000 they raised to renovate the local school in Tlugi, Ambrolauri, the remote and poor cone picking region of Georgia.
The presentation took place just before Katie Melua’s concert in Odense, the perfect location given that Katie is patron and supporter of the Danish fair trade initiative Fair Trees. Paul and Teresa presented the cheque to the Georgian Ambassador to Denmark, Nikoloz Rtveliashvili and Irakli Dvali, president of The Bols Xmas Tree Fund in Georgia, was also present as well as Marianne and Lars Bols, the founders of Fair Trees.
Marianne and Lars also met Katie Melua before the concert to update her on the progress of Fair Trees and the school renovation and to thank her for her continued support of Fair Trees.
The presentation went smoothly, in front of a TV camera from a Georgia TV station as well as photographers and a crowd of Fair Trees supporters, associates and employees. To see photos of the event please go to Fairwind’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Fairwindonline?ref=ts
MA Assist and Fair Trees
This marks the final stage of MA Assist’s CSR initiative to help Fairwind and Fair Trees raise the £10,000 needed to make life and learning a little easier for school children in Tlugi. The tender process has started in Georgia and the renovation contract will be awarded in early October. It is estimated that the works will start within 45 days of the tender being awarded, weather permitting.
Paul Hayman and Teresa Owen hope to travel out to Tlugi to visit the school once the work has been completed.
Fairwind and Fair Trees
The Nordmann Fir tree (or the “non-drop tree”) is a high quality tree that keeps its needles well and has a lovely symmetrical, bushy shape. These great qualities have made it increasingly popular and now about 5 million a year are sold in the UK alone. These trees are farmed, but they can only be grown using seed sourced from the natural forests of Georgia – the seed can’t be farmed to a high enough quality, even if the farmer can wait many years for a tree to produce enough seed cones.
Every September the seeds are harvested by the local people in the Ambrolauri region of Georgia, a remote and poor area of a poor developing country. These people, or “cone pickers” are mainly subsistence farmers living high up in the mountains who have little or no income all year until the seed harvest comes round. They then climb 30 metre high trees to pick the seed cones – without safety equipment, ropes or health insurance – and are paid a pittance. Every year someone is injured and there have been deaths too. The seeds are then sold off to farms in Europe where the trees are grown for huge profits, often using illegal immigrant labour and with little regard for the environment.
But things are starting to change thanks to the only fair trade certified (WFTO) real Christmas trees in the world. Set up by Danish Christmas tree grower Bols Forstplanteskole, Fair Trees® sources its own seeds from Ambrolauri using fair trade principles. All of the Fair Trees® cone pickers are paid a fair wage and are provided with modern safety equipment and health insurance. Fair Trees® has also set up a charitable fund in Georgia called The Bols Xmas Tree Fund to help the cone picking community. So far the Fund has provided dental care and health insurance for the local children and invested in community projects. Fairwind, along with an insurance repairs business called MAAssist, has raised £10,000 for the Fund to renovate the local school in Tlugi which is in a desperate state.
Fair Trees® not only grows ethical trees, but it is also campaigning to get Christmas tree growers to change their ways and to join the Fair Trees® programme which sets out clear ethical and environmental requirements. Fairwind is aiding that campaign in the UK.
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