Orkney Fairtrade Zone have worked very hard to establish their own ‘Buy Fair and Buy Local’ strategy, linking Fairtrade internationally to the promotion of local high quality food industries and the shared challenges of operating in global markets. Members of Orkney Fairtrade Zone shared with us their story.

‘We feel we have successfully embedded Fairtrade in the local foodie scene, with growing numbers of retail and catering outlets highlighting their use of Fairtrade products and displaying our ‘We are a Fairtrade Zone: Buy Fair and Buy Local in Orkney’ stickers. Orkney is a farming and fishing community, and also has a rapidly expanding hospitality industry; quality, ethical production and knowledge of provenance are important in the food and drink sector here. 

We have had a mention and recipes in two recipe books published by Birlinn: The Tattie Bible and The Book of Bere. These both focus on using Orkney grown produce with Fairtrade condiments and fruit.  

We’ve organised Fairtrade Fortnight events that promote and showcase a wide range of local businesses and encourage them to advertise support for Fairtrade via window and counter displays, even though their opportunities to sell may be limited. This is important for maintaining our positive local profile and enabling access to business networks e.g. the main town’s Business Improvement District, tourism and travel organisations (a key local industry), as well as securing stronger political and community support. 

We have engaged with Orkney Food and Drink (promoting local food businesses), Orkney Tourism Group, and Kirkwall Business Improvement District, and use their networks and resources to support our campaigning. They helped to organise, and publicised, a Fairtrade treasure hunt around shops in our two major towns for Fairtrade Fortnight 2018, and the Orkney-wide Fairtrade cocoa café baking challenge for Fairtrade Fortnight 2019. We had entries on their websites and in brochures such as the Tourism Insider Guide and the annual Peedie Foodies Guide to local producers, highlighting Orkney’s status as a Fairtrade Zone and encouraging visitors and residents to buy Fairtrade.  

In 2017, we were invited to provide a speaker for the International Conference of the European Small Islands Federation on the topic of our ‘Buy Fair and Buy Local’ campaign, as part of a seminar on promoting food businesses, indicating the extent of our local impact.  

This conference was run in conjunction with Orkney International Science Festival, for which we have provided Fairtrade refreshments services. We offer free Fairtrade beverages to local voluntary groups in exchange for publicity at their events, and work alongside producers and food businesses whenever we can at social and promotional events. 

As we are a small steering group we depend very much upon these kind of partnerships and wider membership to sustain our local campaign.’