How the Fig Tree survived the floods

Anna Clayton.
Anna Clayton.

In this column, Bruce Crowther talks about The FIG Tree’s future following Lancaster’s floods in December 2015.

“The FIG Tree is an International Fair Trade Centre which was set up in Garstang, the world’s first Fair Trade Town in 2011.

“In March 2015 The FIG Tree relocated to St John’s Church, Lancaster, where it hosted a Fair Trade and local café and shop; an exhibition of interactive displays on the three linked local heritage themes (Fair Trade Towns, the slave trade and its abolition, and Quakers); offered unique bean to bar chocolate making workshops and hosted visitors from far and wide and Fair Trade events.

“Following an event in December 2015 which highlighted the Sustainable Development Goals and the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable, ironically St Johns was hit by the floods.

“The FIG Tree director, Bruce Crowther was not able to get home that night so decided to stay overnight, sleeping on the church pews, only to wake at 3am to find water had risen to within millimetres of the base of the pew where he was lying. A few hours later, he walked out on to the flooded streets of Lancaster to a site he described as ‘looking like an apocalypse’.

“Following extensive repairs by the Churches Conservation Trust, the church is still in the process of drying out. It is uncertain when, or if, The FIG Tree will be able to move back in.

“As a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, the directors of The FIG Tree are currently consulting with all their stakeholders within and beyond the Lancaster community to explore possible future locations.

“In the meantime they have been offered a space in St Nics Arcade to run a stall from 10am to 5pm every Wednesday and Saturday and have been allowed to run their chocolate workshops at Lancaster’s Friends Meeting House.

“The FIG Tree Directors, volunteers, friends and staff would like to thank everyone in Lancaster who has helped and continue to help them through this difficult time.

“Special thanks go to St Nics Arcade, Lancaster’s Friends Meeting House, the Dukes Theatre and the Cornerstone.

“For any inquiries or to book a workshop please contact Bruce Crowther,

The FIG Tree Director on telephone 01995 602637 email brucecrowther300@gmail.com or visit the website at www.fairtradecentre.org”