The following project are those carried out/started by the RRU. Click on the title to see the full story behind each.
The Rural Regeneration Unit (RRU) ran a three year project in Fulham to develop Community Food Co-ops and School Fruit Tuck Shops. The project was funded by the North Fulham New Deal for Communities (NDC) Partnership. Many of the food co-ops and fruit tuck shops continue to operate after the project has finished.
One of the RRU's most successful church run food co-ops started at St Andrew's Church in Fulham Fields. The co-op attracted people from the local Caribbean community, nearby sheltered accommodation and a pre-school play group. Fruit and vegetable orders were usually over £100 per week and the produce was delivered directly from market traders in the North End Road. Co-op volunteers attended the NDC's Citizen Panel and Father Martin, who oversees the food co-op, was proud when the food co-op helped St Andrew's to win the Church Times Green Award.
The Fruit Tuck Shop at Sir John Lillie Primary School in Lillie Road was run by the School Council during the morning break and also after school on Thursdays. For 20p pupils could buy a piece of fruit instead of eating unhealthy snacks. Profits made covered free fruit for the School Council volunteers and occasional free tasting of unusual fruits for the whole school. Also, the Council hoped to offer a "loyalty" card with free fruit benefits. Head teacher Sue Hayward supported the idea from the start and said: "We are very keen to make this work and giving it to the School Council as a focus gives our children more control over the environment and lives, both in and out of school".
Conwy & Denbighshire's Youth Justice Service set up a food co-op in their offices in Colwyn Bay at the start of June 2012.
The Food Co-operative has been used mainly for their young people who are on Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Orders.
The fresh produce has been bought by staff members and also opened up to members of the local community.
An ISS means that the young people have to have a timetable of activities including offending behaviour work, constructive leisure, education, reparation and interpersonal skills.
Mags Williams, Referral Order Co-ordinator and Sessional Work Organiser, says:
"We have been running the co-op on a Tuesday morning and the young people have been able to cover a lot of the requirements. For education they have developed a knowledge about the products and learnt how to weigh them out; for interpersonal skills they have been meeting with staff members, taking orders, dealing with money transactions and also telephoning the orders through".
For the future, the service plans to have a new kitchen installed in which it is hoped that more young people can be involved in the food co-op, not just those on ISS, when they incorporate it with the cook and eat sessions they plan to run.
The Food Co-op in Aberporth is particularly successful because it links with a wide variety of other community activities and also offers a range of additional Welsh produce. Lead volunteer Anne explains:
"The Food Co-op runs every Tuesday morning at the same time as the Country Market and the Credit Union. Other organisations such as Citizens Advice, Age Concern and the Community Police are also there. This means the Village Hall is a hive of activity".
Soon after starting their fruit and vegetable food co-op, volunteers found there was a demand for other Welsh produce. Now customers are able to buy meat packs from Golwyg yr Mor Farm 3 miles away and fish caught and delivered by Welsh Seafoods from Milford Haven.
As with fruit and vegetables, meat and fish are sold in advance by volunteers on behalf of the supplier, direct to the customer. There is no middle man. The meat and fish is pre-packed so volunteers do not handle raw produce. Environmental Health approve of the system, which has since been adopted at other food co-ops.
Sean Ryan owns Mercurius and Stephanie, which fish off-shore 3-5 days at a time. Sean says:
"As fuel prices continue to rise, it makes sense that fish landed in Wales are eaten as locally as possible. This keeps the cost down and the fish fresher, while reducing food miles, which is good for the environment. We are also part of the UK's "Responsible Fishing Scheme", which is similar to the land-based "Farm Assured Scheme".
A framed photograph of "Mercurius" is on the wall at the food co-op so customers can really see where their fish comes from.