A great launch & Article in West Cork People

I’m now getting dug in to Easter – bunnies and eggs are slowly filling local shops and my little chocolaterie is strewn with ribbon, but before I get onto that let me tell you about the last couple weeks 🙂

We had a great Fairtrade launch party at the Lettercollum Kitchen Project on March 8th with lots of friends and customers popping in to say hello and congratulate us on our new certification – and of course to sample some raw hot chocolate and some of the 15 flavours of chocolate!  It was great to meet some customers who have been buying the chocolate unbeknownst to me, (some for as long as 6 years!) and to hear their encouragement and feedback – thank you all so much for coming out, it was great to celebrate with you.

The West Cork People also published this article about our recent fact-finding trip to Ghana where I met the primary producers of my cocoa!   Please have a read:

Fair play to Fairtrade

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POSTED ON: 6TH MARCH, 2014

CATEGORY: FEATURES

CONTRIBUTOR: MARY O’BRIEN

Fairtrade Fortnight, an annual event that raises awareness about Fairtrade, comes to a successful close this Sunday, March 9. Clonakilty, Ireland’s first Fairtrade town, organised a number of informative events over the two weeks, one of which involved Allison Roberts and Cindy Kingston recounting their experiences visiting Fairtrade farms and co-ops on a trip to Ghana last November.

Allison and Cindy got the opportunity to represent Clonakilty Fairtrade on the two-week trip to Ghana after Clonakilty was declared ‘Best Fairtrade Town in Ireland 2013’. They speak to Mary O’Brien about their experience and the importance of supporting Fairtrade.

Fairtrade guarantees the growers fair prices for their produce, which results in the farmers being able to invest in their holdings and communities and that children attend education rather than having to work on the plantations. The Fairtrade system has also helped and encouraged producers to come together to form co-ops and these are working very well in Ghana.

Clonakilty based chocolatier Allison Roberts has always been passionate about Fairtrade, so when the occasion arose to see firsthand where the cocoa beans for her chocolate come from, she jumped at the chance. Cindy has been involved in the Clonakilty Fairtrade Committee since 2006 and says the trip was a truly humbling experience.

In Ghana, Allison and Cindy visited producers of Fairtrade palm oil, cocoa and bananas, as well as learning about the history of the slave trade in Ghana and visiting local recycling projects.

They met with cocoa bean farmers, many of whom were women, in the small rural village of Amankwatia. The local children attend a school, which was built with the aid of the Fairtrade premium.

In New Koforidua, Africa’a first Fairtrade town, Allison and Cindy met with 40 to 50 farmers who supply Fairtrade cocoa to the Kuapa Kokoo cocoa co-operative. Kuapa Kokoo’s cocoa is used in many of the big brand Fairtrade chocolate bars. “The farmers were very concerned about the future of Fairtrade produce and asked us to bring the message back to Ireland for people to continue supporting Fairtrade,” says Allison. “Fairtrade means they can improve their lives in Ghana, continue farming and continue to send their children to school.”

In Asuom, Cindy and Allison visited Serendipalm, a Fairtrade palm oil plantation and production unit. Here, they were guided through a local village where a new water pump has been installed and a new toilet block built with Fairtrade premium. “Sanitation in many of these small villages is very poor,” explains Cindy “and being part of the Fairtrade system is having huge positive impacts on their lives.”

“Entire towns are developed as part of the Fairtrade system, not just cocoa plantations,” explains Allison. “You can really feel the sense of community and pride in their traditions. In one of the weaving projects we visited, the man running it spoke extremely passionate about promoting sustainable tourism in his country.”

Throughout all the areas that the women visited in Ghana, they were met with huge smiles and even bigger welcomes. “The palm oil plantation was visually stunning,” says Allison. “All the work is done outdoors, mainly by women and everyone seemed very happy and relaxed. We were given a very warm welcome.”

“I would encourage everyone to think twice about everything that we consume in our consumer hungry society and maybe consider a simple change, such as buying fairtrade tea/coffee/chocolate, confident in the knowledge that just by having a cuppa, we can impact on the daily lives of others, positively,” says Cindy.

On Saturday, March 8, ‘Clonakilty Chocolate’, which recently received the Fairtrade Mark, will officially launch at The Lettercollum Kitchen Project Shop in Clonakilty.

Anyone interested in becoming involved in the Clonakilty Fairtrade committee can contact the chairperson Trevor Kingston on 086-2202029.

http://www.westcorkpeople.ie/features/fair-play-to-fairtrade/


You’re Invited… (new Fairtrade wrappers are in!)

I am happy to announce that this Saturday at 4pm at the Lettercollum Kitchen Project, Clonakilty I will be launching my lovely new range of redesigned bars which are now officially certified Fairtrade!

Come on down to have a taste, get an early bird order in for Easter and to find out more about my little business and why I chose to go through the process of certification (the bars have been Fairtrade for years, but I’ve just registered to use the logo).  Please share or bring a friend 🙂  Ax
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Fairtrade article in the Examiner! (& FT ghana talk)

I’m writing from London where we’ve been whisking around on our lovely Brompton bikes visiting friends & family, and I’ve been delighted to see that the Examiner has published an article featuring Clonakilty Chocolate!  I’m pasting it below, please share it with your friends!

Also – this Friday Feb 28th at 8:30pm at ODonovans hotel, Clonakilty Cindy Kingston and I are doing a talk on our recent trip to Ghana, showing a video we made while on the trip and answering questions about the impact of Fairtrade in the global south.  There will also be a cashew farmer from South America sharing the impact of Fairtrade on the lives of his community!

ARTICLE —————

Fairtrade is winning new friends

By Ray Ryan

Monday, February 24, 2014

 

Clonakilty Chocolate’s Allison Roberts is a firm supporter of Fairtrade, a movement that ensures farmers and workers receive a fair price or wage. And Fairtrade is booming, writes Ray Ryan.

 

PEOPLE who treat themselves or their friends to a bar or two of handcrafted Clonakilty Chocolate are doing more than just tickling their taste buds and supporting a local business.

They are also helping to ensure that cocoa farmers in far away Ghana get a fair price for their raw material and are given a chance to face a better future.

That’s because the chocolate, ethically made with loving care by Allison Roberts, a Canadian who came to live in Clonakilty six years ago, is Fairtrade registered.

The Fairtrade mark means farmers and workers in plantations and factories across the developing world are fairly rewarded for their product and labour.

That message will be highlighted with a series of events across Ireland during Fairtrade Fortnight which begins today.

Visiting guests Alex Flores, a cashew nuts co-op worker in El Salvador, and Alfredo Ortego, from the Sugar Cane Farmers Association in Belize, which borders Guatemala and Mexico, will highlight the importance of Fairtrade.

They will be pleased to learn that the number of Fairtrade Towns in Ireland is set to rise to 51 with Derry and Clondalkin being added to the list.

Chocolate making became a passion with Allison Roberts when she was just 12 years of age and was later matched by her commitment to sustainability.

Both of those passions did not go unnoticed when she came to live in Clonakilty, which was Ireland’s first Fairtrade town in 2003. Jennifer Sleeman got her involved in the local committee, now headed by Trevor Kingston, chairman.

Allison now produces 14 flavours of Clonakilty Chocolate which she sells in local shops including her own, and at the local weekly Friday market. They are also available at the English Market in Cork “Most of my bars contain at least 70% Cacao and the end products are healthier and, I think, more delicious.”

Last year, Allison was lured into the world of raw chocolate and sugar-free chocolate making with the result that these bars have quickly become best-sellers and are her own favourites.

“So with two milk bars, two white bars, seven bars made from 70% dark chocolate and three bars that are 80% raw and sugar free I’m delighted with my range of handcrafted bars,” she said.

Clonakilty was selected as the best Fairtrade Town in Ireland last year and as a result, Allison, the treasurer, and Cindy Kingston, secretary, spent ten days in Ghana.

“It was amazing to meet with the cocoa farmers and see where my chocolate originated,” she said, describing the visit as inspiring. In Ghana she also realised how great a role small businesses can play in helping these farmers. “I’m determined to push and stretch my comfort zone and horizons and explore possibilities,” she said.

Allison said she particularly hopes to create more direct links with Kuapa Kokoo, the co-op that represents almost 50,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana.

The farmers say a lot of progress has been made through Fairtrade and Kuapa. The co-op pays them on time and there is no cheating when the cocoa is weighted.

Fairtrade Ireland reported that sales for 2012 were up by 9% from €159m to €174m, mainly in the chocolate and banana food categories. Figures for 2013 are not yet available, but the growth is likely to have continued with an announcement by Nestlé’s that Kit Kat Two Finger had converted to Fairtrade.

The positive sales increase and Nestlé’s news came at the same time last year as Irish Rail announced that all the coffee across its 624 catering carriages on its national train services had converted to Fairtrade.

Fairtrade Ireland executive Peter Gaynor said at the time that more businesses need to follow the example of companies like Irish Rail and convert all of their products to Fairtrade.

Mr Gaynor said a 2011 consumer survey in 24 countries found that the highest percentage of those who believed companies can make a difference to poverty in developing countries was in Ireland.

“We agree and would welcome far bigger commitments from Irish retailers than we have seen to date,” he said.

However, a breakthrough was recently achieved by Fairtrade International with nine companies including Mars becoming the first to sign up to new Fairtrade sourcing programmes.

Initial 2014 volumes are set to deliver $1.2m in additional Fairtrade Premium to cocoa farmers by the year end.

www.fairtrade.ie

www.clonakiltychocolate.com

 

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, February 24, 2014


January 2014 & good things in small packages

Hope everyone out there had a brilliant holiday season, we were run off our feet to get all kinds of chocolatey goodies to the shops and markets in Clonakilty and are thrilled at your reactions to the new Raw & Glucose-Free bars.  I’ve finally put up a few pictures of my recent inspiring trip to Ghana and here is the wee video we made whilst we were there for the Fairtrade conference in Dublin…

I’m scheming up lots of ideas for the future of Clonakilty Chocolate.  In Ghana I realised how great a role small businesses can play and was so inspired those we visited, that I’m determined to push and stretch my comfort zone & horizons and explore possibilities…

I am delighted to be finally getting our official Fairtrade Certification sorted out (look out for the official launch during fair-trade fortnight March this year) and am hoping to create more direct links with Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana, but most of all I’m looking forward to building up my tiny business into a small business that can be of more benefit to its community while standing for sustainable practice in business & sustainable tourism in both Clonakilty & Ghana…  Here’s to 2014 🙂 x A


Christmas Market in Clon – last day for 10% off orders!

I’m packing up and heading down to the market in Clonakilty for a special Christmas market!   If you are interested in getting some sweet treats for family and friends this Christmas do pop down between 12-5pm and have a look, last chance for 10% off today.   I’ve been so busy working away in my little chocolate studio i’m looking forward to a day of chat and Christmas cheer…  the Clonakilty Favour Exchange is also having a market and i’ve made chocolate popcorn to share.    You can also visit the Christmas page to see what i’ve been working on 🙂   Also, if there is anyone who is interested in taking Clonakilty Chocolate to a market do get in touch – I’m happy to stock on consignment!  A x

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Cocoa Pods & Inspiration

 

 

Two lovely cocoa pods have travelled with me back from Ghana, one is getting used to colder climes and may not last past Christmas and the other, made from beautiful mahogany from a Djembe player I met, will stay with me for the years to come.  I have returned home inspired and renewed and heading full-tilt into Christmas.

I have so many stories and photos and video to share but I think it will be January before I get to them all, but that is what is so great about January.  Until then here are my lovely pods, shaded by my old Inchydoney sign reminding me of where I’ve come from and where I’m going!

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Raw Chocolate & Web Rebuild & GHANA!

There is a lot to be excited about this week.   I  want to write two bits of very important news for Clon Chocolate  and I would like to spend more time on this post but  I’m a bit bleary eyed from re-populating the website after the recent virus attack (shop finally back up) so please forgive any typos!  Here we go:

1 – Raw/Sugar-free bars are here!  I have been selling (& sampling) two new bars at the last 2 Friday markets in Clon and they have been a great hit, the first bar ‘For Goodness Sake’ is 80% cacao goodness sweetened with a small amount of Xylitol and powdered Lucuma fruit, the flavour is cacao intense but the Lucuma keeps it very mellow. Bar number 2 is ‘Orange Crunch‘ same ingredients as above with the added benefit of natural orange essence & cacao nibs…. yummmmmm –  please do get in touch if you’re after some raw and sugar-free goodness!

2- I’M GOING TO GHANA!!!!!! I have been very fortunate to be offered the opportunity to visit the farm where my chocolate starts it’s journey at it’s Fairtrade Cooperative in Ghana, West Africa!  I am going as a representative of Fairtrade Clonakilty as we celebrate 10 years of being a Fairtrade town and I am so looking forward to meeting the people and plants that have been such a big part of my life.  This is an absolute dream come true for me.  I leave Nov 2nd so I am busy in the chocolaterie getting some spooky halloween ghosts and bars done to make sure all the shops are stocked up while i’m away.  I’ll be at the market this Friday then off for 2 🙂 More news to come! Ax


Website Rebuild in Progress….

My website was ‘hacked’ and a funny malware virus means i’ve had to rebuild, this is the new site so no viruses anymore but i’m still adding things to the shop and restoring old posts etc… feel free to look around in the meantime, your patience is appreciated! x


Raw & Sugar-free bars coming soon!

I am thrilled to announce I’ve just received my very own VitaMix blender in the post.  This new snazzy bit of kit means i’m expanding my range of bars to include some even more delectable and lovingly handmade bars including a much requested Raw & Sugar-Free bar…  I’m still in the experimental stages but after a great Raw Chocolate course with Amy from Ooosha this summer I am confident i’ll come up with something delicious.  But what flavours to choose, and which yummy sweetners, I have room for 3 more bars on my bike market stand….. more experimenting to do but expect the new bars to turn up at the market before Christmas!  (Now i’ve set the deadline I’m sure to get a move on!)

Since I last posted I’ve had a brilliant summer of sunshine & busy markets but struggled against all that heat.  I had to shut down production for a couple weeks when my workshop just got too hot for the chocolate to temper properly!  Too bad – I had to go to the beach instead 🙂

Inchydoney beach was jammed and it was lovely to see all the locals and visitors adjust wardrobes accordingly, we had guests staying almost all summer long with many convinced Ireland is a tropical paradise with rain a fabricated rumour to keep tourists at bay!  But autumn is here and we’re bring reminded that winter is around the corner.  So time to settle into the studio and get to work!