Saturday, 24 October 2009

Felinfoel food co-op is winning recipe

A highly successful food co-op in Felinfoel is keeping locals healthy and wealthy.

The co-op, now in its third year, continues to go from strength to strength with over 20 families now on board buying fresh local fruit and vegetables at half the price of those available in supermarkets.

The co-op operates from Felinfoel Community Education Centre and Ysgol y Felin in partnership with Communities First and the Rural Regeneration Unit.

Every Wednesday, co-op volunteers take orders and payment from local families at the Community Education Centre, which go directly to the farmer.

The following Wednesday, the farmer delivers the order in bulk and volunteers divide the produce into equal shares and bag up the goods for customers to collect later in the day.

The bags vary each week, based on what is in season, but vegetable bags will almost always hold potatoes, carrots and onions.

Fruit bags usually consist of apples, bananas and oranges, plus some seasonal crops. Each bag costs just £3.

All produce is freshly picked to order, ensuring a tasty substitute to mass produced supermarket foods.

Week by week, the numbers attending rise, and with free tea and coffee for all who order the co-op has also led to many members of the community using the centre as a reason to socialise with others.

Ysgol Y Felin has also established a succesful food co-op for staff, pupils and parents on a Wednesday afternoon.

The children bag the produce during their lunch hour and customers collect and order for the following week after school.

Community Development Officer Amy Wakefield said: "The food co-op has proved to be an economically sound method of obtaining fresh produce, for both supplier and customer.

"The co-op makes no profit, meaning all money taken goes directly to the farmer. Low-income families also benefit greatly, and they can exchange Healthy Food vouchers for nutritious produce.

"The co-op has also been fortunate to have the support of the local school. Volunteers have liaised with teachers and pupils of Ysgol y Felin to promote a food-coop for staff members and parents.

"Not only does this benefit the children’s knowledge and awareness of healthy eating, but children are subconsciously learning important life skills; ordering food, converting weights, money handling, as well as participating in regular cookery classes and passing recipes to family members."

She added: "There are also great environmental benefits as buying fresh local crops helps to reduce carbon footprint. Because the farmer only selects vegetables that are ready for harvesting, it also reduces the energy of artificial lighting and temperature monitoring required."

Initial set-up costs of both co-ops were met by the Rural Regeneration Unit, which works closely with local farmers to ensure a fair price for their produce.

The continuous involvement of the RRU and local volunteers has aided enormously in the success of the project.

Councillor Clive Scourfield, executive board member for regeneration, said: "It is great that so many families are taking advantage of this fantastic scheme."

For further information about the food co-op contact Felinfoel Communities First on 01554 784847.


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