Stroudco Food Hub – which has one part-time paid member of staff and an increasing group of enthusiastic volunteers is seven years old. It currently supports some 57 local food and drink producers, ranging from well-known names such as Stroud Brewery and Winstone’s Ice Cream to allotment growers and school gardeners offering just a few bunches of carrots and home cooks selling surplus jars of jam.
About 522 households are now registered with the food hub, which presents Stroud residents with a full scale local alternative to supermarket shopping. Every week customers go online to choose from a wide range of products listed within the not-for-profit co-operative’s comprehensive catalogue and collect their orders from pick-up points such as Stroud Valleys School, the Quaker Meeting House in Nailsworth or the Brunel Mall, or have them delivered if within three miles of the school.
Almost everything available in the big stores can be purchased through Stroudco, with the community interest company linking up with local traders such as Global Organics and Hania Cheeses from the town’s Shambles Market and Bristol-based workers’ co-operative Essential Wholefoods to provide products that cannot be sourced on the doorstep.
Around 90% of the products in their catalogue come from within 15 miles of Stroud, though some items have to be found further afield. However, if a new producer starts to produce the same product locally, they are given preference.
Stroudco is one of a number of food hubs operating all over the world and has already inspired similar schemes in Dursley and the Forest of Dean.