Open-Sourcing with Two Hannahs

We’re pleased to announce the arrival of 2 new employees – Hannah Clark and Hannah Davis!

We were inundated with exceptionally high quality applicants for our post of ‘Farmer Radio Development Manager’. This proved to be a very popular post – attracting some fantastic people with excellent experience. So, we faced a tough time indeed in terms of making a decision. And we would like to thank every single person who applied; no one enjoys the process of jumping through so many hoops and we appreciate the time and work involved by our applicants.

But after they had experienced several gruelling interviews, we came to the conclusion that two of the candidates ticked every single box for us. And both wowed us with their previous experience and obvious passion for what we do. Interestingly, they share the same first name; (perhaps following a bit of an LYF tradition – what with our Cris Talens and Chris Longden). It also turned out that both candidates actually knew each other already – and at one point had even lived together! Those of you who have followed the birth and growth of the LYF will be aware that we are a small charity who adopts a rather unconventional approach to what we do. Our programme delivery and achievements are proof of the pudding that daring to do things a little bit differently can deliver huge dividends for the farmers that we support.

So, after lots of thought and discussion, we decided to widen the post in terms of hours available and offered the job to both Hannah C and to Hannah D.

Hannah D and Hannah C with Ian Agnew

The two Hannah’s will be taking the lead on our flagship ‘Open Source’ Community Farmer Radio initiative. This is no mean feat – and our new colleagues have needed to hit the ground running. You will shortly be hearing more from them, what they are working on and how you can help the LYF to develop this fantastic new programme, empowering smallholders in Africa.
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More on Open Source Community Farmer Radio
The Lorna Young Foundation is a charity that works to connect communities, enabling them to trade knowledge, products and ideas that will make their lives better. We do this by devising and running programmes that bring together the many disconnected societies that make up our World- both in the UK and internationally. We have a rich history, taking our name from fair trade pioneer Lorna Young who broke down doors to get Cafédirect into supermarkets.

Our work is based on a deep understanding of international trade justice issues. We have a long track record of solving supply chain challenges, and access to networks that can deliver expertise and support. Farmer Radio – one of our flagship programmes – uses radio and text messaging to reach millions of small-farmers in Africa (and, later Latin America and Asia) with the information they need to manage and market their crops effectively.

Our aim is to bring about change: change in the attitudes and systems that prevent communities across the globe from working together to improve their lives.

Our new ‘Open Source’ initiative will be a game-changer in empowering participatory farmer radio, which enables farmers to leverage more value out of supply chains and tackle challenges. To date, we have undertaken individual farmer radio projects across Africa, but we are now moving away from frontline delivery and are facilitating significant scale-up. We are making our Community Farmer Radio model available on an ‘open source’, free of charge basis to any organisation that can use it to build a better future for farmer communities in the developing world.

How YOU Can Help
Get in touch with us if you are able to offer support in the following ways:
• Offering funding and sponsorship to help us scale-up our ‘Open Source’ approach across African countries
• Suggesting partnership opportunities for the LYF (i.e. with businesses, institutions, governments, communities, NGOs)
• Giving support for business planning, communications materials, IT support for an online platform, technical roll-out, legal support for ‘Open Source’ approach

LYF To Open-Source its Farmer Radio Programmes

Over the last 8 years, our Farmer Radio projects have reached hundreds of thousands of small farmers across Africa. As a direct result, these farmers – and the supply chains they sell into – have seen measurable improvements in crop yield, quality and disease resistance. Farmers feel better able to deal with the effects of climate-change and to support their families to attend school and to feel more positive about farming as a livelihood choice rather than last option.

We now want to dramatically scale-up this work; and we believe that the most effective and sustainable way to do this is to Open -Source it – make it freely available as a package, to any group or organisation that wants to set up a Farmer radio project. We intend to create a toolkit of resources, materials, guides and support, based on our 8 years’ experience of successfully delivering Farmer Radio.

You can download our Farmer Radio prospectus here. It tells you more about Farmer Radio, our plans to Open-Source it, and help we are looking for to create and promote the take-up of the Open-source approach. We’d love to hear from you. Why not get in touch to chat about Open Source Farmer Radio.

The LYF launches Farmer Radio in Ghana

BRAVE: LYF radio extension project in Ghana and Burkina Faso is underway

In June 2017, the Lorna Young Foundation travelled to Ghana and Burkina Faso to launch BRAVE’s radio extension programme. The aim is to improve the resilience of farming communities to droughts and lack of access to good quality water. Ultimately this impacts on both their health and livelihoods, through their ability to grow food crops and keep livestock.

The aim of our radio extension programme is to provide training and information to farming communities in drought affected areas North of Tamale (Ghana) and in the region in and around Reo (Burkina). The training will target 4 key areas to improve resilience and adaptation of these communities going forward by:

  • improving access to ground water by promoting rain harvesting techniques, proper storage and conservation of water resources;
  • improving crop yields, by providing information on drought resistant and early maturing crops in line with agricultural calendars;
  • promoting sustainable land management practices which improve soil fertility and water retention on the farms, the use of organic pesticides and fertilisers as well as raising awareness on the impact of deforestation;
  • improving health and nutrition by promoting high value crops such as orange fleshed potatoes (rich in Vitamin A) ensuring garden crops can be dried and conserved for periods when hunger commonly occurs and also ensuring there is information on prevention and treatment of water related diseases such as cholera.
LYF Farmer Radio

LYF Farmer Radio Planning Workshop, Ghana

In Ghana, farmer representatives and agricultural extension staff from MOFA attended a two day workshop alongside CARE, IRC and radio partners from the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation – the radio station Ura – to identify the key messages that would be delivered to farmers throughout the year. The programmes have been initially titled as ‘FARMER AND THE WATER’[1]

In Burkina Faso, the process was started with 24 with representatives from the Union des Groupements Feminin a grassroot organisation operating across 4 key farmer communities, Christian Aid and the extension organisation Reseau Marp. The radio programme there will be organised with Radio Sangue across all 4 regions targeted by the BRAVE programme.

The groups came together and have made a first attempt to identify the key issues that farmers need more information on throughout the year.  We have scheduled these programmes into an agricultural calendar and these now need to be reviewed with farming communities.

In October, the LYF will return to provide further training on setting up farmer listening groups. These groups will help to develop content, communicate best practice and ensure that the programmes are aired at times which have the potential for highest impact.

  • [1] kpa’ad ne koum in Kusaal (to be hosted for Tariganga and Akara by Kate for URA – GBC)
  • Pukpaana ni Kuom in Mampruli (To be hosted for Samini and  Jawani districts by Osman Masahudu for URA – GBC)


The LYF and Zakat

The Lorna Young Foundation – Supporting Muslim Farmers and Communities

The Abrahamic faiths have a long tradition of peaceful and respectful trading activities between them.  Each have their own rules and guidelines for fair methods of trading – both with people of their own faith, those of other faiths and those of no faith at all. Justice, compassion and a focus on honest work and enterprise are key components. Did you know, for example, that the Qu’ran has more written on the subject of trade and commerce, than any other subject?


Smallhold Farmers in Harar, Ethiopia

The largest portion of the world’s poor is the 800 million who live in rural areas. great distances from the nearest markets and basic social services. The majority of these people are ‘subsistence’ producers or farmers; barely able to make a living beyond feeding their families enough to stay alive.

Making enough money to be able to sell a crop, to be able to cultivate it and to sell it for a fair price so that they can access better health, education and housing is simply a dream for most of them.

Empowering these communities to be able to take control of their own destiny is the aim of the Lorna Young Foundation (LYF). Download our Farmer Radio Leaflet here.

Muslim supporters and volunteers of the LYF are keen to spread the word about this small but mighty UK based charity.  Unlike many of the other ‘household name’ charities, the LYF focuses entirely on helping poor communities both in the UK and overseas, to empower themselves by becoming effective, ethical entrepreneurs – whether this be in farming or other forums of business.

Not content with providing ‘a hand-up, rather than a hand-out’ however, the LYF also uses its programmes to bring together different communities and people of faith. Several years ago the charity set up the ground-breaking Oromo Oromo coffeeCoffee Company  – a Fairtrade coffee company which the LYF initiated to support Oromo refugees in Greater Manchester thereby promoting a working relationship between Muslim and Christian Oromo refugees, and with local people who are often exposed to extremist political views.

Then the charity set up ‘Not Just A Trading Company’ across the north of England –  helping young Pakistani, white and Afro-Carribean youth from deprived areas to work together to form their own ethical trading enterprise in partnership with supporting the products that come from developing countries.  The LYF has also worked to support Arab producers in Palestine/Israel and continues to develop new approaches to bring communities together in the name of ethical trade.

Christina Longden, Director for the LYF has also been a key driving force for our work to help poor Muslim communities both overseas and in the UK. You can find out more about Chris’ own personal passions to challenge negative perceptions of Muslims here.

The LYF is a very unusual, small charity. Based in Huddersfield, UK, the organisation has minimal overheads. No expensive offices or salaries and no feathering our own nests. We work to keep the vast majority of our funding with the people who need it the most and who can only dream of the privileges that we have.

See and and …

PLEASE consider donating zakat to The Lorna Young Foundation this year. You can download our Farmer Radio Appeal Leaflet here.

Community Groundwater Resources in Ghana and Burkina Faso

The LYF is working with Reading University to help communities identify sustainable groundwater resources in Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Over 500 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) depend upon groundwater supplies. Within a generation, that will rise still further, close on to a billion.

Groundwater that lies under rock, gravel, sand or silt can be extracted using wells and can help farming communities who are generally dependent on rain for crops and livelihoods, to access water when there is no rain. Groundwater resources are considered more resilient to climate variability and currently the volumes of this water being used are generally small compared with the average amount of rain in some parts of Africa.

So groundwater can provide an important water resource to help adapt to changing climate and land use. However, in areas of Sub-Saharan Africa where rocks store a relatively small amount of water, during extended periods of low rainfall, groundwater supplies can fail. For this reason – together with an absence of historical record-keeping of borehole levels – it is unclear whether the planned development of groundwater resources to meet increases in demand is feasible in every part of sub-Saharan Africa.

This month sees the launch of the BRAVE2 project with Reading University, (Building Understanding of Climate Variability into the Planning of Groundwater Supplies from Low Storage Aquifers) The aim of the initiative is to improve our knowledge of groundwater availability and management in Ghana and Burkina Faso. BRAVE

LYF has been tasked to work on the BRAVE project; engaging directly with rural smallholders in Bukina Faso as our local partners disseminate information that enables communities to use water in a sustainable way for future generations. The overarching aim of the project is to build the capacity of local people to manage groundwater (GW) resources in a sustainable and equitable manner, to build their livelihoods and to help 400,000 to become more resilient to drought, especially Ghanaian women and children.

LYF’s role in the dissemination campaign is to utilize our Farmer Radio approach – linking into Farm Radio International through AfClix, the Lorna Young Foundation, and Practical Action West Africa. The campaigns will aim to share the new evidence-based tools for water governance with local decision makers and regional policy makers.


Chai ni Mali – the Value of Tea


We are all pretty familiar with the value of tea in our own lives (where indeed would polite society be without it?) But one of the aims of the Lorna Young Foundation is to support small tea farmers in developing countries to receive the true value of their crop.tea field WATCO, Tukuyu

One of the LYF’s most exciting, recent initiatives has been to develop ‘Farmer Radio’ – where we work with local smallholder organisations to produce radio programmes so that farmers can access crucial information about the particular crops they grow and to help support them to have objective and transparent information about the markets that they grow crops for. You can read more about our first Farmer Radio initiatives here. And, as always, with an LYF project, we’ve been keen to add value – so our Farmer Radio model not only provides information on crop quality and on markets, but also takes the opportunity to raise awareness about more sustainable farming practices, to improve food and nutrition and to raise awareness of HIV-Aids prevention.

The tea markets in East Africa are experiencing a slump due to an increased green leaf production; as a result, tea factories in Tanzania are struggling. Many smallholders do not fully understand the impact of this on prices, so it is now more important than ever to create clear information and communication channels between factories and growers.

Our Tanzanian farmer-radio project was created in response to these challenges. We work in Tanzinia with the RSTGA (Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association), WATCO (Wakalima Tea Company) and TRIT (Tea Research Institute of Tanzania). The project was launched in March 2014 and, to date, has received training visits from LYF staff and local partners – including Joseph Macharia (our Kenyan Farmer Radio lead) and Jasmine Bakula (our DRC based lead.) Our excellent partner-advisors from Ringtons Tea Company, Waitrose and the Wood Foundation Africa have also supported project.

In order to replicate our successful approaches in Kenya and DRC, our team worked with two radio presenters from Tanzania’s ‘Kyela FM’ to produce training and content for 6 months’ of radio programmes. Farmer ‘listening’ groups were set up so that we could be provided with feedback on content, along with creating an SMS facility so that farmers could ‘text-in’ their questions for the show. The radio programme was named Chai ni Mali (the value of tea) and later on in 2015, Ian Agnew from the LYF undertook a follow-up visit in order to see how the project was progressing.

Some of the challenges facing the project have been the lack of transport available to the broadcasters for them to carry-out regular interviews from the farmers and more encouragement is now needed for the listeners to text in their questions to the radio station. However – the general outlook was extremely positive. Ian met with a group of Mpuguso village Committeefarmers who belong to the project’s ‘listening group’ at Mpuguso village; all were highly enthusiastic about the broadcasts and keen to provide us with new ideas. They appreciated the current level of technical detail available on growing tea during the broadcasts, but requested wider information on development and on growing other crops. It was also felt that more women farmers should be interviewed in order to encourage other women in the region to improve their crop cultivation and interest in farming.

RSTGA officesFollowing the success of the broadcasts, RSTGA have set up their own radio station ‘Chai FM’ which now broadcasts from a small studio at their offices in Tukuyu directly to 10,000 local smallholders but which also repeats the programmes and urges more farmers to provide feedback and content for future shows.

In our next blog post, we will share some exciting news about our new Farmer Radio project in Ghana!


Farmer Radio in Tanzania

Chai Ni Mali – The Value of Tea starts recording  and interviewing tea farmers!


RSTGA Tea Farmers in training

In November 2014, Cristina Talens from the LYF in the UK and Jasmine Bakula, our fabulous radio presenter from the DRC travelled to Rungwe to record the first radio programmes of Chai Ni Mali – the latest LYF Farmer Radio venture. They were accompanied by Ringtons, the Wood Family Trust and Waitrose who wanted to see first hand  how how the project was developing.

For this project, Rungwe Smallholder Tea Growers Association (RSTGA) have partnered with Kyela FM,  one of  the most popular community radio stations in the region. The station was launched in 2010 as a grassroots community radio and is a designated partner of the BBC World Service for their coverage of local voting and elections. Kyela FM radio broadcasts from 5am to midnight with a potential audience of over 2 million in the 4 Tanzania regions of Mbeya, Iringa, Ruvuma, and the Northern part of Malawi where national radio and TV stations have limited reach.  The radio station’s aim is to inspire pastoral development in agriculture and in health outreach to the community. The station has set itself up as ‘the voice of the voiceless’ offering its microphone to marginalised communities including people living in poverty, women and children groups, disabled people, and people living with HIV/AIDS. UNESCO continues to support the station by building the capacities of Kyela’s radio journalists, so that they can produce radio programmes of greater relevance and interest to listeners. It is, therefore, an ideal outlet for the tea radio extension programme. Two wonderful Kyela FM radio presenters have been appointed to work with us, namely, Sophia Kayombo and Masoud Mauldi.

During the trip, the RSTGA  successfully organised the first farmer field  listening group with some 30 farmers from Mwakalele where the  radio presenters took their first questions about tea and markets. The farmers welcomed a radio programme for tea in which they would be protagonists and would get to ask all their questions. We also took the opportunity to interview Linda Lisser from Ringtons and Amali Bunter from Waitrose to talk about what customers in the UK loved about Tanzanian tea. The programme is a service provided for tea farmers in the Rungwe area.

Cristina says, ‘These shows acknowledge that tea is only one crop and one concern for the target community. Therefore, a “whole person” approach is to be taken when addressing tea farmers; issues such as health, family planning etc. as well as financial and land issues will all be addressed’

‘Farmers have important knowledge gaps on markets and some land management issues. However, listeners do have a lifetime of experience and knowledge in farming; this know-how will be built upon in a way that makes them feel proud of who they are and avoids being prescriptive. The focus will be on finding best practice, gathering interviews and information that the farmers can use, or applicable practices that potentially have high impact.

Lebi Gabriel from RSTGA says,’ The programmes can be used as a platform to promote the work of WATCO as a company and strengthen the relationship between RSTGA and farmers.’

After several years of directly delivering youth programmes in the most deprived communities the North of England, our intention is to significantly expand the reach and impact of our project by sharing our learning and equipping young leaders (aged 16 to 25) with the skills to deliver ethical enterprise learning and embed entrepreneurialism in community projects. We have applied to AVIVA Community Fund for funding to put local people in the lead by training 40 young people in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester to set up their own youth-led enterprise projects. Please help us in our funding application by voting for our projecct on the Aviva Community Fund website, using the link here.


We are Looking for a new Chairperson

Do you have the skills, passion, contacts and drive to take lead and grow small dynamic charity? We are looking for a new Chairperson to lead our Board of Trustees and the recruitment of a new Director. There is more information below, or you can download the full role description here.

The Lorna Young Foundation (LYF) is a charity that works to connect communities in order to trade knowledge, products and ideas that will make their lives better. It does this by devising and running unique programmes that bring together the many disconnected worlds that make up our societies – both in the UK and across the world.

We have a rich history, taking our name from fair trade pioneer Lorna Young who broke down doors to get Cafédirect into supermarkets. Our work is based on a deep understanding of international trade justice issues. We have a long track record of solving supply chain challenges, and access to networks that can deliver expertise and funding.  Here are three current examples of our programmes:

‘Farmer Extension’ uses the medium of radio and text messaging to reach millions of poor smallholders in Africa with the information that they need in order to manage their crops effectively. The farmers set the questions and LYF provides answers from experts in the field.

‘Not Just a Trading Company’ offers young people and communities in some of the UK’s most deprived areas an opportunity to create their own social enterprise, linking where possible with small producers in developing countries.

LYFE, (Lorna Young Foundation Enterprise Programme) matches skilled, experienced, entrepreneur-mentors to individual smallholder organisations. It goes beyond ‘empowerment’ – taking the attitude that often only simple measures are needed in order to support smallholders to achieve their business aspirations and compete effectively in the domestic and international marketplace

Our aim is to bring about change in the attitudes and systems that prevent communities across the globe from working together to improve their lives.

With a wealth of successful programmes and a solid reputation, LYF is at a critical point in our evolution. We are ready to re-tighten our focus and scale up the work we do that is most innovative, unique and delivers the most impact for the communities we work with, here and there. We are seeking an Executive Chair who will:

  • Take the lead on fine-tuning our strategy and driving the team to deliver it.
  • Armed with our impressive track record and far-reaching UK and international network, represent the organisation at key events and meetings, to bring in the investment, partnerships and support we need to scale up our tried and tested programmes as well as develop select new initiatives.
  • Raise investment for and recruit our first Managing Director, who can permanently take on this leadership role.
  • Hold the Board to account for the organisation’s mission and vision and ensure that the trustees fulfill their duties and responsibilities for effective governance of the organisation.

The Entrepreneur Combating Climate Change one Cup at a Time

Extract from a newspaper interview with the LYF’s Cristina Talens, Founder of Source Climate Change Coffee

Cristina Talens was interviewed by the Harrogate Advertiser inYorkshire.


1. In a nutshell, what does your company do?feature
We produce single origin organic gourmet coffees from Cloud Forest communities in Africa and Latin America. We only buy from communities that are working to address deforestation and mitigate climate change. By purchasing carbon credits each bag of coffee offsets 1kg of CO2 through the planting of new trees.

2. How did the company begin, and how has it grown?
I was inspired to create Source Climate Change Coffee after hearing Professor Sir David King, give a speech on climate change at my younger sister’s graduation. Having then sourced my first 5kgs of coffee from Mexico, I was invited to meet Bill Clinton at the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi and also to serve the coffee at the Rio+20 climate change summit. The delegates loved the coffee and that was it! Source Climate Change Coffee was born. In Harrogate, it is selling at Lengs, Fodder, Rasmus, Vanillis and the new Zinc café on John Street as well as other outlets across the UK. A second coffee from Mount Elgon in Uganda will be launched this autumn.

3. What do you do?
Everything – with some occasional help from my friends (and those who can be bribed with a good cup of coffee).

4. What is your education and business background?
I originally studied international business and languages at Leeds Metropolitan University. Although I loved the subject, I just felt that business was missing the human angle and so I started working for Anti-Slavery International on Labour and Human rights. About 10 years ago, I came back to Harrogate as ethical trade manager for Bettys & Taylors and this is where I learnt the coffee trade.

5. If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
Difficult question, because I’ve always followed my heart and my convictions… so I’ve never been bored or wished I could be doing something else. But if I could have been something else, I would have been a musician, I think. I still wish I could play the guitar well enough to play in a band!

6. What motivates you?
The belief that profit, quality, ethics and sustainability all go hand in hand. I really think that we need to change the way we do things as businesses. This is a time and an opportunity for companies and people who are creative in their ways of thinking.

7. What sets your company apart from the competition?
Source Climate Change Coffee is the first coffee in the UK with its own carbon credit number providing 100% traceability to the communities where the coffee is grown, Each bag & tin has a unique tracking number to show the farmers’ on-going
conservation efforts at the cloud forest of origin. Our coffee allows customers to do their bit to address climate change.

8. What is the most difficult challenge your company has faced? And what challenges are you experiencing at the moment?
As there are only so many cloud forest areas, my biggest challenge has been and is, finding high quality coffees, where the growers are undertaking reforestation and conservation activities. Balancing the speed of growth with the available funding is always a little tricky.

9. Have you got a five-year goal for the company?
Not really, I simply want to establish the Source Climate Change Coffee brand as a producer of some of the best single origin coffees in the UK, whilst at the same time leading the sustainability agenda. I’d love for it to be in a big retailer, that also has strong sustainability values, to be able to get it out to a wider audience.

10. What one thing do you wish you had known when you started out in business?

Setting up something totally new takes time! Manage your expectations and keep them realistic.

11. What excites you about business?
That it can be used to great ends if it’s done well and people like what you do. I think it’s a great time for creative business thinkers that want to do something different.

12. What is your pet hate in business?
The short sighted view of profits over everything else and at all costs.

13. What advice would you give to people just starting their careers?
Do something that you are passionate about and you believe in. Work takes up most of your day, so make sure that you like what you do, no matter how weird and wonderful it may be and try to surround yourself with good people. Also, recognise that you need some practical experience on the job before anyone will take you seriously.

14. Who in business do you most admire, and why?
I thought Anita Roddick was absolutely brilliant, totally fearless, driven and extremely creative. She was also the one that brought sustainability into the mainstream, and did it all whilst bringing up her children.

15. What moments of your career so far stand out?
There are actually four moments that really stand out; The first time I visited the Ashaninka tribe in the Amazon and watched the forests generating the clouds; the day I had the first bag of Source Climate Change Coffee in my hands; hearing Professor Sir David King speak about the challenges of climate change in the 21st Century and; finally putting a bag of climate change coffee into his hands 5 years later.