Gaining Fairtrade status is not an instant thing, or a matter of just stocking the village shop with a few chocolate bars and bananas.

It is a process that can take up to three years, sometimes more. When the Kennington4Fairtrade steering group first met in September 2008 they realised they had a lot of work ahead of them, but they were confident that the great community spirit that binds their village together would get them through. Their aim was for Kennington to be recognised by residents and the business community as a village that actively supports and promotes Fairtrade and so help farmers in developing countries to obtain a fair price for their crops.

Residents had already begun celebrating Fairtrade with a Big Brew Event and a pre-Christmas coffee morning the previous year, which proved a great success. Their Go Bananas event worked well too. Gaining full Fairtrade status seemed a natural extension of events such as these.

The steering group’s first task was to persuade local retailers to stock, use and provide Fairtrade goods. They had no problems with their village store Midland Co-operated, as the Co-operative leads the way with Fairtrade goods. Indeed, the Co-op has been linked with Fairtrade since its inception in 1994. In 1998, they launched their long-term plan to mainstream Fairtrade products and were the first to switch their entire hot drinks range to Fairtrade. The Kennington Co-op stocks 79 Fairtrade products and more are coming.

Mr Ahmed, who runs Best-one, a small village store, now stocks Fairtrade chocolate, sugar, bananas and sometimes wine, too; the Post Office sells chocolate; and the Tandem pub serves Fairtrade coffee, tea and sugar.

Robin Mason, chairman of the Kennington4Fairtrade Steering group explained that Fairtrade status did not just depend on local retailers, but workplaces and faith groups too. He is proud that all five major workplaces, including the Kennington Health Centre and the Mon Choisy Care Home, now use Fairtrade products.

He said: “All relevant and appropriate organisations in Kennington were approached with a view to joining this initiative. It was great to see so many workplaces making the switch to Fairtrade and local groups serving Fairtrade tea, coffee and biscuits for refreshments.”

He is also delighted that the pupils of St Swithun’s School have become involved.

He explained that during this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight in March the school’s focus will be on Fairtrade cotton. “The school plans to become involved in a national world record attempt to create the longest line of hand-designed Fairtrade cotton bunting — each triangle decorated with a statement of support for Fairtrade and cotton farmers in West Africa.”

Teachers do their bit, drinking Fairtrade tea and coffee in the staff room, and weaving information about Fairtrade into lessons.

Robin reminded those attending the presentation of the village’s Fairtrade certificate, that this was just the beginning.

“Becoming a Fairtrade Village is an incredible achievement, but remains only one significant step in the Fairtrade journey. There is still much to do, as our Fairtrade status is reviewed after a year and then every two years following that.”

At the moment there are 7.5 million farmers, workers and their families involved in Fairtrade farming, but while they now benefit from a fair deal for their producers, countless others remain at the mercy of unscrupulous traders.

The list of Fairtrade products increases daily. There are more than 4,500 certified items to choose from, including chocolate and hot chocolate powder, fresh and dried fruits, wines and spirits, beer brewed using Fairtrade sugar, biscuits and cakes, fruit juice and soft drinks — all of which bear the green and blue Fairtrade logo. Olives and olive oil from Palestine are now available too.

As patron of Kennington Fairtrade, I presented the Fairtrade Certificate to Peter Biggs, the chairman of the parish council, during a morning coffee event to celebrate the village’s new status. It proved a very jolly affair, and obviously the delicious home-made cakes and biscuits served with the tea and coffee were lovingly prepared and cooked by enthusiastic Fairtrade supporters.

I have featured (left) the recipe for Fairtrade cup cakes baked by Kathryn Baggott, who used her imagination when icing them. She was surprised how many Fairtrade goods there are in the shops. She is particularly proud that everything she used was a Fairtrade product.

During Fairtrade Fortnight, Kennington residents plan a “Show Us Your label” event, which organisers hope will encourage people to buy and wear cotton garments bearing the Fairtrade label.

There are many Oxfordshire shops dedicated to selling Fairtrade products: The Mustard Seed (Faringdon), Cornerstone (Grove), Fair Trade at St Michael’s (Oxford), Just Trading (Wallingford) and The Indian Shop in Wantage.