Fair Trade nurseries have a successful year images

Nursery kids from East Dunbartonshire pose with guests from Malawi, Susan and Howard, East Dunbartonshire Council Leader Rhondda Geekie and director of the Forum, Martin Rhodes. Photo by Neil Petrie, Green Highlander Images

Fair Trade nurseries have a successful year

A pioneering Fair Trade Nurseries pilot project, which was launched in East Dunbartonshire in September 2012, concluded successfully.  Based on its success the Scottish Fair Trade Forum and its partners hope to bring the project to nurseries across Scotland.

The project’s completion was celebrated earlier in June in East Dunbartonshire, which became the first council in all of the UK to run an initiative of this kind – see here for photos of the day’s event.  All local authority and partnership nurseries (around 45 in total) were automatically enrolled in the scheme and support was provided throughout the year.  The project envisioned three main areas of activities: work with children to teach them about trade and the Fair Trade movement; promote Fair Trade among their families and wider community; and, use Fair Trade ingredients in nursery catering for children.

While there are official schemes for schools to become Fairtrade Schools, there is currently no formal scheme for nurseries. Therefore, given the number of children involved, the likely enthusiasm and the links that nurseries have with the wider community, the potential for this project to have significant impact was large.  The Fairtrade Foundation are supportive of the programme.

The programme was inspired by the daughter of the Forum’s Board Member, Tracy Mitchell.  Tracy noticed that her toddler of under 2 years was recognising the Fairtrade Mark and so a project was born.  The programme was developed with local nurseries and the East Dunbartonshire Early Years Team with support from the East Dunbartonshire Fair Trade Steering Group and the Scottish Fair Trade Forum and funding from the Co-operative Membership.

Among the activities carried out was a ‘Fair Trade Tonne’ challenge, where 14 nurseries collectively purchased over 1200kgs of rice to sell on within their networks – a world first! The achievement coincided with Fairtrade Fortnight 2013 and a celebration was held at TLC Nursery in Kirkintilloch, the first nursery to run a 90kg Rice Challenge in 2011.  Malawian rice farmers Howard Msukwa and Henry Kalomba joined children and staff from various nurseries to speak, sing a fair trade song and learn more about the manual labour involved in farming rice. 

Provost Una Walker joined the celebration and said, “During this challenge these very young children have been learning where the food they eat comes from and how to be responsible consumers.  It is important that during their formative years children have knowledge of fair trade to enable them to make informed consumer choices as they grow older.”

The programme has had a deep impact on the children and their families, “The children have thoroughly enjoyed all our activities and we have had great support from our parents too…who would have thought such young children would become so involved in Fair Trade,” said Jane Billcliff, of The Glasgow Academy in Milngavie.

It has been a great year running this pilot within East Dunbartonshire. All involved are trying to build on the success of the project to expand it throughout Scotland.  Fundraising is already underway to develop resources aimed at three- to five- year-olds.

For related articles see:

Running for Fair Trade Nurseries
Young minds to learn about Fair Trade

To download the pilot project report, click here.