Alford has lead the way by becoming the first community in both Donside and Deeside to be honoured as a “Fairtrade town”.
It joins other North- east towns such as Ellon, Huntly and Inverurie in gaining the status as well as over 500 more up and down the UK.
Following the Marr Area Committee’s agreement that the town be given the status in October last year the Alford Fairtrade Steering Group had to prove to the Fairtrade Foundation that it could meet a set of five goals.
These included that the council pass a resolution supporting Fairtrade, that at least four Fairtrade product ranges are readily available in the area’s shops and two products served in local caterers, that workplaces and community organisations use Fairtrade products whenever possible and to gather media coverage for the bid.
Jackie Ross, chair of the Alford Fairtrade Steering Group said she was “over the moon” that the bid had been successful: “The Steering Group are over the moon to see all their hard work come to fruition. We hope this will benefit businesses and organisations in Alford as well as supporting communities abroad. We feel sure that gaining Fairtrade Status for the village will raise Alford’s profile and be an additional selling point for promoting the amenities available....
Flora Caron, a long-standing member of the Howe Trinity Fairtrade Group and a also member in the Steering Group said: “I am grinning from ear to ear. We have been working towards this for many years.”
Flora and Jackie were joined by group secretary Ann Wilkinson in celebrating the news: “We could not have gained Fairtrade Status without the support of many people and businesses in the village. We will be seeking ideas and suggestions from the local community about how to involve as many people as possible in a village-wide celebration of this amazing achievement.”
Huntly, Strathbogie and Howe of Alford Councillor Alastair Ross said the decision was “excellent news”: “This is absolutely excellent news. The whole thrust of Fairtrade is ensuring third world farmers receive a fair price for their products. It’s a very active group here and they have done a great job.
Alford colleague Cllr John Latham agreed: “They don’t give Fairtrade status for no reason, this reflects the hard work of the local group and the traders. “
Fairtrade is a movement who tries to certify products as ethically “fair”, primarily food products grown or made in third-world countries.
“We are now planning a big celebration,” Jackie added “And of course we need to speak to the Council about getting a (new) sign up at the entrance to the Village.”