The director of L J Fairburn, based in Alford, recently swapped the Wolds for the humid Ugandan hills joining an all-female team of leading food industry figures to plant 1,000 trees in just three days for the charity Farm Africa.
Sarah Louise Fairburn planted avocado, jackfruit, orange and mango trees to provide shade on 36 remote Ugandan coffee farms across 80 acres, to help provide essential food and income for local farming families, shelter for their coffee trees from the harsh sun, and boost soil quality. This also enables more vital crops to grow in the future.
With the generous support of many local businesses and members of the public, she has also raised over £15,000 for Farm Africa’s work across Eastern Africa to provide women with the assistance they need to increase their incomes and earn a fair share of profits from coffee – a cause close to Sarah Louise’s heart.
She is a director of Alford-based egg producer L J Fairburn & Son, where around half of its workforce and 60% of its managers are women. She is also a Non-Executive Director for the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, championing women in business and opportunities for local food businesses.
After her backbreaking African challenge, Sarah Louise said: “I have to say the world looks like a very different place to me now, and I’m left feeling compelled to do much more. I can honestly say Farm Africa’s project work is incredible, educating farmers in best practice, increasing job opportunities by growing farms that will then need labour and growing the most valuable thing there - food.
“I love how they help form female farming cooperatives as the women do the vast majority of the work, and have children to care for.
“Historically, the men would receive all the income from the women’s hard work and the income wasn’t always spent sustainably.
“Now, with Farm Africa’s help, the female cooperatives get paid jointly in a fund that is then spent on education for their children, clothes and healthcare, three things that are urgently needed!”
Coffee is Uganda’s most valuable crop and although exported across the world, the families who cultivate the crop still live in immense poverty. Farm Africa is dedicated to improving the lives of farming communities in eastern Africa, providing essential training and funds to help vulnerable farmers make a sustainable living.
Sarah Louise joined forces with seven other senior women from the UK food industry for this venture.
She said: “We were all so determined to work hard to help the farmers, and it was inspiring to see that all the women farmers we met had that same spirit when it came to their work ethic. And after spending the day digging in dense jungle, they then carry all their tools, sacks and harvested food home.
“Hopefully, our work will help combat the environmental challenges facing the communities in that region of Uganda too, as well as empowering women and young people.
“That means a lot to me as I come from a British family business, which prides itself on ensuring sustainability for future generations.”
All business sponsors will also be invited to a dinner party at Sarah Louise’s home, prepared by Lincolnshire chef, Rachel Green.
To make a donation to Sarah Louise’s challenge, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sarahthousandtrees.
All funds raised will go to the Farm Africa charity.