A GROUP of food producers from Okehampton hope to transform their shop to benefit the local community.
Harvest Farm Shop in Okehampton’s Red Lion Yard, which has been run by local organic growers for the last two years, is becoming a ‘not-for-profit’ workers co-op.
As well as continuing to offer affordable, local and organic groceries, the shop will develop new, off-site educational activities, working with local schools and groups to help the community to engage in the social, environmental and health issues surrounding food and farming.
Shop owners Martin Godfrey and Sara Melendro said they had always been keen to run the shop co-operatively and said that, along with five other members, they had the vision to start an ‘Okehampton Food Revolution’ which benefited local people and the local economy.
Martin said: ‘We saw this as an opportunity to increase access to organic food in the local area and to help local people to understand the key role that farming plays in our health, the environment and the local economy.’
So far, the group has raised just over £2,000 but needs to raise £15,000 in total by June 26.
The crowdfunding campaign asks for help to give the shop a much needed makeover, to expand into community-led events and to purchase vital equipment. In return for donations, the group offers a wealth of rewards for its community; weekly bread from the shop, a yoga retreat, an introduction to sourdough course, wild food walks, farm-based seasonal cooking and many more local, food-related prizes – all a taster of what’s to come.
The campaign will run for only two more weeks in June, in order to start the co-operative in July this year.
Events relating to farming, wildlife, food security and working the land sustainably are on the Harvest Worker’s Co-op’s agenda for its educational programme, which it believed would better secure the food system for the future.
The group aims to support local growers, to interact with the public and to start a food conversation within the market town of Okehampton.
Sara said: ‘Harvest Worker’s Co-op offers a real alternative to supermarket shopping with a focus on small scale, local suppliers growing seasonal food using natural methods.
‘We stock local, organic, sustainable and ethically produced food, all sourced with both our customers and producers in mind.’
To find out more about the Harvest Worker’s Co-op and its crowdfunding campaign, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/harvest-workers-co-op