Online shop makes it easier to source locally grown produce

13 November 2014

A new online shop has been launched for people wishing to buy fruit, vegetables and other food and drink products grown and made locally to Newtown.

Cultivate, a Newtown-based social enterprise linking food and community, has created the online shop at www.cultivate.uk.com to provide an outlet for local growers and food and drink producers.

The enterprise is part of Cwm Harry and has seven part-time staff and around 20 volunteers. Cultivate has received specialist mentoring support from Cywain, a project that helps the agriculture and horticulture sector to add value to primary produce by developing new products or markets, with an emphasis on collaboration.

Cultivate, which is working towards sustainable local food solutions, has developed three community gardens in Newtown, Llanidloes and Llanfyllin as part of a National Lottery funded project called Get-Growing. A site for a six to eight acre market garden in Newtown is also sought.

Micro businesses established by the enterprise include a plant nursery specialising in perennial plants suitable for forest gardens as well as a food hub at Newtown’s Community Garden, in front of the NPTC Newtown college and Theatr Hafren, providing vegetable boxes from local producers.

The new online shop is designed to expand the veg box scheme, which has around 30 customers and make Cultivate Newtown’s local food hub. Already it is selling produce from Hilltop Honey, Newtown, Sherriff’s Wood Eggs, Aberhafesp, Morgan’s Teas, Welshpool and chocolate from Coco Pzazz, Bwlchyfridd.

Cultivate’s director Gary Mitchell is hoping to attract many more local fruit and veg growers and food and drink producers to join the online venture.

“We already supply a couple of small shops and it’s much easier for them to deal one business to source a range of local produce,” he explained. “The online shop now gives us a chance to expand by allowing people to buy from the comfort of their own homes.

“We’ve started with 60 different lines but we probably have another 200 that we could add. We aim to make it easier to source good, local food and to make it affordable. By supporting local producers and working collectively, we have more chance of making it sustainable.

“We want to hear from growers of all sizes. For example, someone with a large garden might have a surplus of carrots that we could sell for them. Our ultimate aim is to sell to local shops, pubs and restaurants by building a reputation as a reliable source of quality local produce at the right price.”

During a visit to a local school, Gary found that many children could not identify basic vegetables, strengthening his drive to help people learn more about the benefits and taste of fruit and veg.

He is also concerned about the growth of food poverty in Powys, which now has nine food banks. Cultivate encourages people to volunteer in its community gardens in return for a hot meal and vegetables to take home to feed their family.

Lowri Davies, Cywain’s Mid and West Wales development manager, said: “We are delighted to support Cultivate with this exciting new venture to help producers in North Powys to add value to primary produce by developing new markets, with an emphasis on collaboration and sustainability.”

Cywain receives funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

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