Musings of a pig lady: Linda McDonald-Brown

Typical, isn’t it? The sun comes out for the first time in ages, and what happens? I suddenly realise I have two deadlines to meet and, therefore, I’m condemned to my office for the majority of the week.

The week hasn’t been all bad, though. I’ve just returned from a wonderful and fascinating three hours at the Cream o’ Galloway, having attended a Fairtrade Food for Thought lunch, followed by a farm tour, (the second time this week I’ve been shown around).

I must confess my knowledge of the workings and benefits of Fairtrade have until today been shamefully lacking. According to their website, the Fairtrade Foundation’s mission is to work with businesses, community groups and individuals to improve the trading position of producer organisations in the south and to deliver sustainable livelihoods for farmers, workers and their communities.

Members of the foundation receive a fair and stable price for their products, as well as receiving a premium which is then used to invest and improve their communities and businesses. So it was interesting to sit and listen to guest speaker Justine Watulunga, a coffee grower from Uganda, about how being part of Fairtrade has literally changed her life, and the lives of other coffee growers in her community. Through Fairtrade, she has been able to educate her children, and help build a school and a centre for orphans as well as invest back into the land and her business.

Justine’s visit comes at a time when Fairtrade groups are working towards Dumfries and Galloway becoming a Fairtrade region. For this to be achieved, though, more retailers have to stock the produce and this will only happen if the demand for it is there. To achieve Fairtrade status would be quite a coup, but it’s obviously down to the power of the buying customer as to whether we are successful or not. Fairtrade produce is good quality, much of it organic and the prices comparable to others brands, so start asking for it whenever or wherever you shop.

Even though I’ve lived in Dumfries and Galloway for four years, I have never been around Rainton farm at Cream o’ Galloway until this week when, first, Helen, the marketing manager, showed me around, then a few days later owner Wilma Finley also took us on a very informative farm tour following the Fairtrade lunch.

Wilma and her husband go against the usual grain of dairy farming. They are visionaries who are passionate about their commitment to having a low environmental impact in each aspect of the farm management and rearing their animals in a non-intensive manner (calves, for example, instead of being taken away from their mums a few days after they are born are left on and weaned more naturally many months later, resulting in a better grown animal).

Not only hasveDavid and Wilma won a boxful of awards, but their innovative and visionary way of managing the farm has resulted in the farm being used as a case study for educational visits from schools and universities.