FIG Tree Bean to Bar Chocolate
Tuesday, 10 November 2020 | Joanna
Bruce Crowther started the Fairtrade Towns movement in Garstang in Lancashire which was declared the world's first Fairtrade Town on 27 April 2000. Twenty years later, and with thousands of Fair Trade towns all over the world, including over 600 in the UK (and 38 in Yorkshire) the movement - and the thousands of people who belong to Fairtrade towns groups - remains one of the most remarkable grassroots volunteer organisations in the world. Bruce was awarded an MBE for services to Fairtrade and I am delighted to call him my friend, and to sell his chocolate.
While he lives and works in Lancashire, Bruce's heart is in Ghana and especially with the people of New Koforidua, which became Africa's first fair trade town which lies at what was the centre of the Shanti empire. Most of the town's residents are cocoa farmers and Bruce knows them all personally. Every year he buys a sack of cocoa from one of them, on rotation, and makes chocolate with it. When he first proposed a connection of friendship between Garstang and New Koforidua in 2001 Bruce asked the chief to sign the piece of paper which would also be signed by the mayor of Garstang. The chief looked confused: "Why do we need a piece of paper?" he asked "Our children and going to be friends with your children. That's all that matters." That personal connection is what makes FIG Tree Bean to Bar chocolate so special.
Bruce is shown here with Patricia Adwubi, sharing a bar of the chocolate he made from her cocoa beans.
It's a sad fact that most cocoa farmers have never tasted the chocolate that their crops go to produce. This is part of the colonial legacy of Ghana. Too often cocoa farmers don't feel ownership of their crops thinking they belong to the European and western buyers who too often dictate the terms of trade. If you followed the Nestle KitKat campaign this will be a familiar story.
Bruce and the FIG Tree are determined to bring the cocoa farmers into the conversation, making the story of chocolate about the people who grow the raw materials and connecting us as consumers with the growers, helping us become global citizens.
This is Frederick Gamor Wilson drying his cocoa beans at harvest time.
Fairtrade is about respecting people and planet, and honouring the skills of workers and farmers around the world. Lots of single origin or artisan chocolate producers will tell you that they don't have to be Fairtrade because they have a personal, direct connection with the farmers, but the FIG tree Bean to Bar proves that the two are not mutually exclusive. Buying cocoa beans produced by a single, named farmer who has been inspected and certified as Fairtrade is a really good way to make sure your cocoa is as ethical as it can be.
We think this is one of the fairest chocolates in the world and you can see for yourselves how good it is.