Welcoming Supporters from Across the UK
10 July 2023
During May and June, we were delighted to welcome 181 supporters to our first in-person events since 2019. Held in Edinburgh, York and London, we hosted some fantastic guest speakers from Just Trading Scotland, Zaytoun CIC and Inka Moss.
We welcomed 34 of our members and supporters to Greyfriars Charteris Centre in Edinburgh on 18 May. Shared Interest Managing Director Patricia Alexander opened the event, saying: “It is a pleasure to welcome you all to our first face-to-face event since 2019. We are delighted to be back here in Edinburgh today, the last time we were here no-one could have predicted how long it would be before we would be able to return. Whether this is your first event or you have joined us in the past we welcome you all here today to hear about our achievements over the year.”
We were thrilled to welcome Tracy Mitchell, Managing Director at Just Trading Scotland (JTS), as our guest speaker for this event. Based in Paisley in the West of Scotland, JTS is a fair trade enterprise set up to facilitate the import and distribution of fairly-traded food products to the UK. JTS empower and educate producers and consumers, through the fair purchasing and sale of the finest ethical food products from the global south.
Tracy began by announcing the rebranding of JTS to the new name of True Origin, emphasising their mission remains completely focused on supporting producers. She said: “We wanted to create a greater association between JTS and its purpose, the ‘true origin’ of the product's we work with. Smallholder farmers and producers are at the heart of True Origin. It’s in our name: we are true to the products origin by providing sustainable income to the producers behind the products.
"Our desire is to make the world a fairer place for our producers, by offering them a sustainable income through our purchases, and, where appropriate, to supplement this with development projects through our charity."
~ Tracy Mitchell, Managing Director of JTS
On Thursday 25 May, 49 supporters joined us at the Priory Centre in York to hear from the Shared Interest team along with guest speaker Juanjo Ladines, Impact Manager at Inka Moss, a Peruvian social enterprise providing sphagnum moss harvesters with the opportunity to earn a sustainable income.
Juanjo opened the event saying: “I ask you to think about what comes into your head when you think about Peru. For many it is Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. This incredibly beautiful place is full of magic and wonder and it is a key part of our culture, but there is another face to this amazing scene that's hardly talked about, one that is sadly not as bright or magical.
"The people living in these communities are among the poorest and most vulnerable population of my country, with most of them being in the extreme poverty category. They lack access to basic services and have to endure extreme weather conditions, in an area where the geography makes travelling to and from the communities highly difficult. For most, their main source of income, and sometimes the only one, comes from the traditional crops, which are usually potatoes.
"These however are a very low profit crop that are highly susceptible to market changes, meaning that their already low income can be considerably lower at the blink of an eye. Taking all of this into consideration a question comes to mind; is there a way in which these communities could increase their income? Enter sphagnum moss - although it's not a very well known plant sphagnum moss is amazing. It only grows in certain places in the world with Peru being one of those.”
Since working with Shared Interest Inka Moss has increased the number of harvesters from 1,985 to 2.800 and sales of moss from 80 metric tonnes to 120 metric tonnes.
"Over the past 12 years we have worked with multiple communities in Peru and made an impact on the lives of thousands of people, this is only one example of the truly amazing impact the moss is having."
~ Juanjo Ladines, Impact Manager at Inka Moss
At our third and final event in London on 21 June, we were delighted to be joined by 98 members and supporters. We also had the pleasure of our international team joining us in-person from Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya and Peru. We were pleased to welcome Heather Masoud, Co Founder of Zaytoun (pictured on page 4), as our guest speaker. A social enterprise inspired by a love of Palestinian culture, communities and cuisine, Zaytoun, which is the Arabic word for olive oil, exists to support Palestinian farmers through fair trade.
Heather explained how the organisation had evolved from a trip she took to Palestine in 2003. She and a group of friends travelled to the area to help with the olive harvest in the shadow of the newly built wall and increasing restrictions on Palestinian trade.
Heather said: “The visit was life changing. I witnessed the gross injustice but also the sense of solidarity as families came together to harvest trees that had been in their care for generations. All by hand and with love and respect. Small farmers everywhere often struggle to make a living, but Palestinian farmers struggle more than most - with an estimated 600,000 illegal Israeli settlers - and all the infrastructure that goes alongside this.
Some settlements are as big as a city. Obstacles to trade include highly restricted access to farmland, the closure of water sources, restrictions on the movement of people and stringent rules on the goods transported within the country and across its borders."
In 2009, Zaytoun’s olive oil became the first in the world to be certified Fairtrade and Palestinian almonds were certified shortly after. The organisation also leads the way in good agricultural practices, with water retention methods running alongside
intercropping with carob trees and tree planting programs.
"We received a $630,000 loan from Shared Interest in 2008. It was transformational! Shared Interest were early enablers making it possible to pay our producers on time and in advance of the harvest.”
~ Heather Masoud, Co-Founder of Zaytoun CIC