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Fairtrade blueberry videoconference

Chino Henriquez, Fairtrade blueberry producer, visits the Co-operative College

Students from co-operative schools across the country had a delicious and informative end to Fairtrade Fortnight, meeting a Fairtrade blueberry producer from Chile and creating a range of scrumptious blueberry dishes during a videoconference organised by the Co-operative College.

Chino Henriquez, a blueberry producer and general manager of Chilean honey co-operative Apicoop, stopped at the College on the final leg of a tour organised by the Co-operative, who are the only stockists of the co-operative’s blueberries in the UK. He joined hundreds of students from Hunterhouse College in Belfast, Sir Thomas Boughey High School in Staffordshire and the Co-operative Academy at Brownhills in Stoke-on-Trent via the link-up. Students then had their knowledge of blueberries, as well as memory of what Chino had told them, tested with a fun blueberry quiz and created a range of blueberry dishes demonstrated on screen by teacher Sally Wilding at Sir Thomas Boughey High School.

Fairtrade blueberry cookalong and videoconference

Apicoop, which has 300 members, has been producing honey for thirty years. It became Fairtrade certified in 1998, and decided to diversify into blueberry production five years ago using profits from the Fairtrade premium. This is the first year the co-operative has produced a proper crop, as Chino admits it is “a long crop” that took “five years of investment year after year”. There have been Fairtrade standards for blueberries since summer 2010.

Chino started the videoconference by discussing Fairtrade and explaining the benefits Fairtrade has brought not just to the co-operative but also the wider community. He explained: “The Fairtrade premium is helping to create a generation that will contribute to the development of the Chilean economy and bring members with new skills and knowledge into the co-operative.

“The major dream is giving kids like you the chance to upgrade their education. In 1980, children of our members had an average of three years in school. Now 98 per cent of kids are in some kind of education, from primary school all the way to university. That is the biggest improvement.”

He continued: “Fair Trade is not just buying and selling. It is a way of life.”

Chino described the ethical trading revolution as: “A revolution full of hope, a great hope for millions and millions of producers around the world.” He added: “This gives possibility for them to live with dignity. It needs contributions from producers and from consumers. But there is a long way to go.”

Chino also discussed with students the benefits of being part of a co-operative. He explained: “The nice thing about a co-operative is you work together, suffer together and enjoy together with other people. We all work back to back – we protect each other. If you work alone you are not in the spirit of the co-operative movement.” Apicoop decided to sell its blueberries via the Co-operative in the UK to demonstrate solidarity and support between co-operatives.

Chino has spent more than half his life beekeeping, which he started after he finished university. He owns 140 hives and produces four tonnes of honey per year. When asked by a student whether he enjoys where he works, he admitted: “I can’t imagine doing anything else – it’s the kind of work I want to do until I go on pension. It is very satisfying.”

Chino thanked the students for their attention to the Fairtrade movement, saying: “If we have youngsters engaged with Fairtrade we can have hope for people to be engaged with Fairtrade in the future.”

He added: “Many people around the world rely on your contributions. Continue to show off your Fairtrade logo!”

During the blueberry quiz, many students guessed incorrectly that Chile is the world’s biggest producer of blueberries. The correct answer is the United States, which produces 90 per cent, but Chino joked: “Maybe next year we’ll be beating the Yankees!”

Students take part in the blueberry cookalong

After asking Chino questions about his life in Chile, Mrs Wilding gave the background to the range of nutritious dishes and made them live on camera, with students in the other schools, as well as staff at the Co-operative College, following. Participants made spiced blueberry cabbage, blueberry yoghurt brûlée, blueberry smoothies, tangy blueberry, lemon and ginger creams, crunchy blueberry and goats cheese salad and blueberry lemonade. After tasting their dishes, the blueberry and goats cheese salad and blueberry, lemon and ginger creams proved to be particular favourites.

Blueberry cooking

Students also thought of snappy Fairtrade blueberry slogans, which included:

“Blueberry and honey makes Fairtrade money”

“Blueberry and bees keeps Fairtrade at ease”

“Blueberry day, let’s cook and play!”

Serving the blueberry and goats cheese salad at the Co-operative College

Feedback from the schools:

Sue Clarke, Assistant Vice Principal, The Co-operative Academy at Brownhills, Stoke-on-Trent

The students and staff at The Co-operative Academy at Brownhills all had a fantastic day! Many thanks.

Peter McQuillan, Vice Principal, Hunterhouse College, Belfast

Thanks for your help in all of this. I’m sure that it was a technical nightmare! The feedback from the girls was very positive and the staff enjoyed the free food! Looking forward to the next event.

Download the accompaying resource from the event, which contains PDFs of the recipes and background information as well as a PowerPoint presentation of the quiz, here.