Ffion’s Fairtrade Journey: Blossoming Lives

Flowers have been presented for centuries: to wish health, to wish happiness. Their beauty considered an expression of thoughtfulness. But have you thought about where they’ve come from? Many of the floral displays that decorate the entrance of your local supermarkets have come from countries as far as Ecuador and Colombia: or Kenya where I recently visited.

Finlays is a multi-national company that has been operating across the globe for over 250 years. Their site up in the hills of Kericho encompasses nine tea estates and three flower farms, and I headed first for one of the latter. I follow the scent of the roses and get chatting to some of the ladies busy harvesting the blooms to be prepared for export. Education becomes the topic of conversation: the ladies eager to share their stories and I eager to hear. The Fairtrade premium that is generated from the sale of the Fairtrade flowers is invested into projects that the workers collectively decide will be of greatest benefit to their community – many here working to better the future of the next generation. Steve Scott, General Manager tells me; “With implementation of Fairtrade standards we have seen the company establish and utilize mechanisms to engage and give a voice to our workers; empowering them through various trainings and improved facilities.”

Finlays work in partnership with the Fairtrade premium committee, co-funding projects such as the crèche. New mothers are entitled to four months maternity leave after which they return to work, with newborns taken care of in the crèche. This reduces the anxiety over their baby’s safety, mothers are able to breastfeed multiple times a day and the economic security of knowing that they can return to work. When I visited the crèche, the kids were peacefully asleep – I daren’t take a photo for fear of my noisy camera shutter rousing them from their slumber! As these children get older, they’ll continue to reap the benefits of the Fairtrade premium. Despite an introduction of free universal primary education in Kenya back in 2003, a lack of infrastructure and resource results in parents having to support the system, with the Fairtrade premium utilised to assist parents in securing a good education for their children. From primary to secondary, the ladies all had children whom were receiving education because of the Fairtrade premium, with one lady wearing the biggest smile when she mentioned that assistance from the Fairtrade premium meant that her eldest son is soon to graduate from university!

The produce of this farm is all Fairtrade certified, but demand for Fairtrade flowers means only a mere 40% is sold at a Fairtrade price. Be it roses or sunflowers that you like on your windowsill – when you reach for your next bunch look for that Fairtrade mark. Your flowers won’t be the only things blossoming; the future for many children across the world will be too!

Fairtrade flowers, such as those from Finlay’s are available in most high street supermarkets.