Fairtrade banana farmer visits Stony

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On Tuesday, as Fairtrade Fortnight begins, Milton Keynes Fairtrade Forum hosted a special visitor to the UK, Tookie Bowman.

Tookie is a banana farmer in St. Vincent and is visiting at the invitation of the Fairtrade Foundation. He will be meeting Fairtrade supporters and campaigners, talking about the issues producers face and sharing stories of how Fairtrade has made a difference to their communities.

On Tuesday evening, Tookie, 72, joined supporters of the MK Global Education Centre (GEM-K) for a sumptuous meal at the Calcutta Brasserie. This is one of many events taking place during Stony Stratford’s first festival of food and drink. Organiser of the GEM-K event.

Debbie Greaves, said: “The town has a long history of providing hospitality to travellers upon Watling Street – from the Romans to the current day – so it is appropriate, when we come together to celebrate the rich heritage of food and drink, that we consider the producers and welcome an international visitor to talk about a commodity that we take for granted.

“This is why we are delighted that Tookie is with us. The Mayor officially welcomed Tookie to Milton Keynes and invited him to speak to guests at the restaurant.”

Tookie has produced bananas for over 48 years with his wife and family on an eight acre farm. He was a founding member of the National Farmers Union of St Vincent and the Grenadines and led the fact-finding mission to Europe that resulted in the birth of Fairtrade in the Windward Islands.  

Earlier in the day Tookie attended events hosted by GEM-K, members of The Co-operative and Abbeys School, meeting children, parents and members of The Co-operative, who have done much to support and promote Fairtrade. Tookie is also visiting other towns in Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire during Fairtrade Fortnight, talking about why Fairtrade makes a difference when so many farmers in developing countries still have to contend with fluctuating prices that may not even cover what it costs to produce their crop. Fairtrade guarantees better trading conditions and fairer prices for producers as well as raising awareness of their situation and campaigning.

Keep an eye on Tookie’s blog to see all the steps he is taking for Fairtrade and go and register your own steps at www.fairtrade.org.uk/step.