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December 4, 2013

Community shop has urban appeal

Typically, shops that are run by their local community are found in remote rural locations where the profit margins are thin but where the wider contribution to community life is immeasurable. For different reasons, it seems this model has appeal for urban communities as well – an opposition to the relentless march of the supermarket, a commitment to connect consumers with local food producers and a desire to establish a focal point for the community.  An Edinburgh community has just launched a community share issue to establish their own green grocer.

Cate Devine, The Herald, 23rd November

THE arrival of Scotland’s first urban community-owned greengrocer’s shop has moved a step closer with a unique share issue scheme. Click here for how to apply

Launched with the support of the Co-operative Enterprise Hub, the share offer is intended to raise £30,000 to fund Dig-In Bruntsfield in Edinburgh.

The shop will sell locally-grown seasonal and organic fruit and vegetables from community gardens, -allotments and commercial market suppliers.

The venture followed concern that supermarket chain Sainsbury’s had bought out Peckham’s, the last specialist independent greengrocer in Bruntsfield.

Melanie Main, who is chairwoman of Dig-In Bruntsfield and Green ¬councillor for the Meadows and Morningside, said: “The area has become over-run by local branches of the big supermarket chains such as Sainsbury’s and Tesco, whose fruit and vegetables are not always fresh or local.

“From experience, we have learned that there is no way we can stop them coming here, but we can provide an alternative. We want to help give people control over what they buy and eat, and also to help local producers find a market for their goods.”

There are now 303 ¬community shops in the UK compared to 23 in 1993. Twenty-three of these are in rural Scotland, with another 20 in the pipeline. The Bruntsfield shop is ¬Scotland’s first community-owned greengrocer, and the first established in a city.

Dig-In will take over a print supply shop in ¬Bruntsfield Place from March next year, provided it can raise £30,000 from shares purchased by community members for a minimum of £25 and a maximum of £20,000. Members have one vote each, irrespective of how much they invest.

So far, interest has been encouraging. When Dig-In’s plans were announced earlier this year, it received £6,000 in pledges and a ¬four-figure sum has already been invested.