Traders are an important element of most events, with potential to provide attractive, colourful content and friendly engagement while selling their wares. If a festival perceives its traders simply as cash-cows, extracting the highest possible pitch fees while paying little regard to traders’ individuality and wellbeing, stalls are likely to be soulless and focused on quantity of sales rather than quality of goods and interactions.
At The Green Gathering we attract many of the most ethical traders on the circuit. Their stalls are beautiful, their goods sustainably sourced, their food delicious and wholesome. These traders delight in showing off their wares. They might not make the biggest profits of the season at our smaller, sustainable event, but they appreciate the experience of being at our festival, as part of our community; they feel valued and supported in their role. And festival-goers rate our Green Markets highly.
In 2023, we received more applications from unique, high quality stalls than ever before. So, how do we do it?
When they arrive on site, remember your traders may be tired and thirsty. They’ve probably just finished packing up at another event and driven straight to you. Now they’ve a tent to set up and a van to unload before they can put the kettle on and relax. Then they’ll have admin to do, as well as preparing their stall for your festival.
Be nice. Make them a cup of tea while they wait to be sited. Apologise if it’s a long wait.
Don’t turn the screw so hard that your traders spend the whole festival worrying if this is the one that’ll bankrupt them. Yes, some traders do make a lot of money at some events - but many only just break even over a season, especially the newer, smaller and more sustainably-focused stalls.
At The Green Gathering we set pitch fees based on the individual details of each stall, not simply on pitch size or sums taken. We consider what has gone into the products – are they hand made, are they organic? If so profits will be smaller and we take that into account. We charge more to caterers who use single-use serveware than those who bring their own reusable crockery, acknowledging the extra effort and cost that goes into sourcing and washing real crocks.
We try to go at least partway towards redressing the imbalance built into capitalism which generally means the less ethical your business, the more you can earn. Not at our festival!
We offer advice about how to reduce power needs, how (and why) to switch to solar power, how to choose ethical suppliers, why bioplastics aren’t the answer (and what you can use instead), and more.
We also offer a donation-based ‘Crock n Rock’ service to caterers. Participating traders receive stacks of real crockery to serve from, which is washed up by festival volunteers.
We run a Green Trader Awards scheme with ‘Gold’ and ‘Silver’ awards for food traders and non-food traders. Winners each receive a certificate to display in their stall, publicity on Green Gathering’s online platforms, and pitch fee reductions for the following year.
We take trading conditions bonds from our traders - £50 for non-food stalls, £100 for food stalls. If any of our trading conditions are broken, we reserve the right to retain the bond. In practice we prefer to educate, support, and offer traders a chance to put their mistakes right, before we penalise them. In most cases, giving traders a second chance makes sense.
Traders who’ve unwittingly breached our trading conditions on their first time at The Green Gathering have gone on to become showcase stalls, choosing to learn more about sourcing ethical ingredients, for example, after we pointed out that a certain popular chocolate spread packed with unsustainable palm oil can and should be replaced with something tastier and less damaging to the planet.
Fully involving traders in Green Gathering means they become part of our journey, and our festival-goers’ journeys, towards creating a positive effect on people and planet.
We know that one of the key areas where The Green Gathering has an impact is dietary choices. To mitigate the worst of the climate crisis, meat farming must be reduced on a planetary scale. All food vendors at our festival are 100% meat and fish free. Half are entirely vegan and almost all have a wide range of vegan options. Our catering terms and conditions ensure the food on offer is largely organic, local or sustainably sourced – often all three. It is also high quality, delicious and cooked with love.
We have chosen to take our festival-goers on a journey of discovery towards, first, revealing that meat and fish are not essential for a gourmet experience, and secondly, that vegan and ethically-sourced food can be delicious and sustaining. Ours is not an exclusively vegan event, instead we showcase a range of delicious, healthy food alongside skill shares in cookery, food growing, foraging, permaculture and sustainable agriculture. We aim to inspire people to make choices that work for them, and for the planet.
In our 2022 festival feedback survey 'the food' rated fourth in what our festival-goers enjoyed most (after music, atmosphere and people). When asked whether their festival experience would change their future behaviour, a quarter of survey respondents said they would eat less meat and 14% were ready to try being vegan. One respondent said "I'm already vegan but the food was so fantastic it would have definitely converted me otherwise!" Another said "The variety of food offered was amazing, we tried many types of food new to us”.
Food traders who’ve changed what they do to meet our trading standards often keep up their new sustainable practices for the rest of the festival season and beyond. We’ve inspired stall holders to invest in solar energy and reusable serveware, drop the bioplastic, switch to oat milk, read ingredient labels, avoid palm oil and increase their vegan offerings. We know, then, that our commitment to ethical trading on site yields positive change in the outside world.
Festivals have the opportunity to make a difference.
Some feedback from our traders
“We want to express our gratitude for being invited to be a part of Green Gathering this year. It was a really special experience for us to be involved and we had a brilliant time introducing our food to such a warm and supportive crowd. We also loved being around such a range of interesting traders, artists and craftspeople, and having such a positive introduction to the green ethos as a business and event trader. We are a young business still finding our feet within the events and food industries, but we are definitely inspired by GG to move in a more sustainable direction going forward, so we want to thank you sincerely for that."
"Trading without mains power was a new experience for us but we are really interested in the potential of solar and had many conversations on this topic. We are looking forward to researching more into this field and hopefully reconnecting with you and other similar events and networks in the future.”
"We thought the pitch, number of traders, food varieties and fees were really fair and well thought out, which ended up being really beneficial for our trade and experience of the weekend as newcomers to the event. Many many thanks for all your hard work making it happen!"
“Thank you so much for having us, we loved the event and it taught us so much about being green and sustainable, something we thought we were already pretty good at but GG has taught us way more!”
“Thank you for another beautiful Gathering. We loved it and will book next year's pitch as soon as it's available. I only wish it went on for longer - it went by so fast this time and I miss it dreadfully already. Also loved the pitch you gave us. Thanks again.”
“Thanks so much for having us at Green Gathering. We had an excellent time trading and everyone was lovely! We would love to come back and trade next year. Please let us know when applications are open or if you have any feedback.”
“So much has changed for us since we did The Green Gathering. We no longer use palm oil (we looked up deforestation after you told us off!) and we’ve replaced nutella with a vegan chocolate option. We’ve got more vegan options generally and have started eating only vegan food ourselves for one week a month. We’re using minimal plastic now and aiming for zero, both in the business and at home. All our serving ware is now fully compostable not just ‘biodegradable’ - and we understand the difference!”
“We’ve been inspired to go solar powered at home!”
Green Trader Award Winners
2023 Gold: Lalita’s Kitchen, Rolling Oats
2023 Silver: Ice Green, Celia’s Herbals
Previous years award winners include: Chai Shop Organic, Veggies Catering Campaign, Woodland Treasures, Coffee Cranks, Get It Here, Dirtbags, The Big Fab Clothes Stall.