Supplier visits: Poland, Hungary and France Tuesday 02 August 2016 Production & Standards Coordinator Matt Richards has had a busy couple of months traveling to meet with some of our suppliers. My recent supplier visits have recently taken me to Poland, Hungary and France in a mission to strengthen our relationships with our suppliers and work closely with them on all aspects of quality. However prepared I think I am before I go on a visit, the visits often take on their own direction - there is always something new to learn, as well as me communicating what our needs are as a buyer. My FairWild visits in Poland and Hungary (where we source wild species such as Elderflower, Limeflower and Nettle) took on a very socially orientated theme - it was all about meeting the people involved in wild herbs and hearing their perspective first hand. They were keen to show me how proud they are of their collection practices and what a great year it had been for Nettles - some growing to head height. They were also keen to talk about the price of the herbs and how they had benefited from the FW premium that we pay - meeting basic personal and social needs (household items such as fuel, and funding for a local children's nursery). It was great to see the tangible impact our buying has on local communities. Here is a short film I made in Poland that I hope gives you more of an idea about how we work with some of our suppliers and the landscape from which we source some of our products. In France I met a brilliant French farmer called Mr Desruelles (on the left in the above photo with me) who farms our organic chicory root. He was an absolute inspiration - farming organically since 1993 for all the right reasons. He uses seven year rotations on his land and farms in a way which was very much in a natural balance with the wider environment. He was very happy that there were blooms of wild chamomile growing between his chicory plants. They give off a sweet aroma as the field workers work their way through with their hoes, weeding out other plants taking advantage of the rich soil. My next visit will be to India in September where I'll be working closely with our suppliers there to plan next year's crops.