The Fair Traders Co-operative over the hill in Holmfirth marks one year in business this weekend, a celebration that coincides with the start of the Holmfirth Arts Festival.
There’s a big party planned for this coming Sunday, that’s 12 June, with street entertainers, a jazz band, and even a ‘living display’ in the store’s window on Huddersfield Road.
The co-operative was set up a year ago, and now has almost 500 members. One of them, Sophie Bebb, gave Saddleworth News more details about how it all works in an interview last week.
She said: “Everyone who is a member has bought into the shop, so everyone has a say on what we do and how we’re run. We’re very open and honest about everything that happens here, and we try to tell our customers the process that every product has been through.”
As well as produce such as coffee and chocolate from far corners of Africa and South America, the co-operative has also been keen to support more local businesses, stocking wine from the Holmfirth Vineyard and beer from the Old Nook brewery.
Sophie explained: “All of the products are either local, fair trade, or eco-friendly. So we have food from Malawi, and wine and beer from Holmfirth. As long as it’s doing good in the world then we’re down with that.”
Reflecting on how the co-operative’s first 12 months, Sophie said: “We’ve had a good year. We’re a community, it’s a good community to be involved in, it’s a good movement to get with, because people are just so friendly and open, and everyone just wants to help each other… it’s really uplifting.”
One of the potential challenges facing Holmfirth is the impact on tourism of the end of Last of the Summer Wine, which has drawn visitors for more than three decades.
But with the Arts Festival following on from the film and folk festivals, and with more events planned for the town this summer, there’s plenty going on as businesses, councillors and others try to attract visitors.
Sophie commented: “We try to get in on everything that’s going on in Holmfirth, because we think it’s really important to build a community. And I think Holmfirth’s got a fantastic community for us to get involved in. It’s really great because everyone’s involved in everything and everyone knows everyone.”
As well as Sunday’s party, the co-operative is placing five customised and fair trade pianos at locations throughout the town for the duration of the Arts Festival.
Anyone will be able to stop by and play them, and each piano will have information about a particular theme involving fair trade and sustainable living.
To listen to more of the interview with Sophie, click on the box below.
One of the regular art workshops with local youngsters, which are held downstairs in the co-operative, was taking place in the background!
The website for the Holmfirth Arts Festival is here.