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Fairhills is a Fairtrade wine project which started in South Africa in 2006, followed by  partner projects in Argentina and Chile. Fairhills SA is the most established of the three projects. One of the beneficiaries of the project, Marlen Hendricks, the library assistant at the Fairhills library, explains the impact of the project.

The name “Fairhills” or concept of “fairtrade” might not mean anything to you, as for so many other people, but to the farm workers of the 22 farms and 19 producers operating in the Fairhills fairtrade project, it means the world. Fairhills is an initiative and empowerment concept built around one of South Africa’s best and most respected wine cellars, Du Toitskloof Cellar at the foot of the Du Toitskloof mountains in the breathtaking Breede Valley in the Western Cape, South Africa. There was limited success in transformation in black empowerment in the wine producing industry in this area, until the start of this project. The first and most important goal was reached in April 2005, when all 22 participating farms and 19 producers became part of the now internationally acclaimed, “fairtrade alliance”.  This allows Fairhills to use the fairtrade mark globally.

Since the project was officially registered as a legal entity and communal property association in Feb. 2006, the name “Fairhills Association” was adopted. The biggest financial income comes from a branded range of Fairhills wine products. A big thanks to the home of fairhills wines, Du Toitskloof Cellar, for the huge amount of wine sales in foreign countries and The Home of Origin Wine, a bottling company in the Stellenbosch area who is the facilitator and driving force behind the project. Currently the project is the biggest in its class.

You can read more on the fairtrade regulations and how it is applied in a project like Fairhills on http://www.fairtrade.net.

After becoming a legal entity renovations and upgrades were done in June 2006 to various facilities, and the project just started flourishing. A community centre was opened in December 2006. This is where the library is.

We have already had two sportsdays on the Rawsonville sportsgrounds and teams afterwards got the opportunity to participate in a sports tournament in Mosselbay. Why is this so important to mention? It was a first visit to the seaside for many youngsters from the farming community. In 2007 we started a youth club, where we embrace the adults of tomorrow. A cellar on one of the farms was “re-invented” to create an arts and crafts shop, offering overseas and local tourists the opportunity to take a little bit of Fairhills home with them.

Then there’s the three day care centres, the programmes for adult learning, health care programme but most of all the fact that workers are stakeholders in the success of the produce. They can taste the fruits of their labour. People on these participating farms have another prospect on life, the possibility to acquire new skills, and we are still going strong.

 

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