It’s surreal, isn’t it, how 2020 is unfolding? A year that has twisted and turned in ways no one could have predicted; where we are all being tried and tested in previously unimaginable ways. It’s hard to find many positive stories but take heart at some enterprising businesses who have got together to make shopping safe, local, sustainable, arguably healthier for us and, for the planet. What am I talking about? Well, let me try and explain…
Ceresly Good, is a clever name for a business run by clever people from a farm at Newbigging of Ceres Farm Ceres, Fife. Their clear, informative website tells their story of starting from a small business selling eggs and homegrown veg to adding more and more local businesses, as the pandemic took hold. Emma Shanks, who runs the company told me “…it all came about through connection, reaching out to others when times proved tough. Collaboration. Not Competition. It’s the key to our success.” The virtual shop is organised like a supermarket with a bakery section, deli counter, tea and coffee etc. Most of us have got used to shopping online these days and this is no different. Emma says, “This is a satisfying business from all angles. It directly supports local, independent business and sellers. It reduces food miles and brings fantastic produce to customers straight from source. And it enables people to shop locally in keeping with their current lifestyles.”
Another company with the same ethos is Grain and Sustain, an award-winning Zero Waste store with 250 products on refill. You can order online with deliveries taking place to all postcodes in Fife, for a nominal fee. I asked Louise Humpington, the founder, about the biggest challenge she faced setting up this kind of enterprise. “Part of the reason why we set the shop up was to use it as a platform for advocacy and campaigning around environmental and social justice issues, and the intersectionality of them…There is no one size fits all model when it comes to living a sustainable lifestyle and we want our messaging to be engaging, non-judgemental and inclusive as possible.” In reply to a further question Louise said, “Being allowed to stay open as an essential shop, and being one of the only shops with both flour and yeast opened us up to a whole new set of customers…The community has been so engaged not just with the products themselves, but also with our mission of trying to help people reduce plastic and make more informed, ethical and sustainable spending decisions.”
When I emailed my questions to both Emma and Louise, I got an almost immediate response from them both. Their replies were bursting with passion and commitment, although both spoke of a steep learning curve. Of course, this is what the community garden here at Tayport is all about, too. Growing and selling fresh produce with no airmiles and no plastic; encouraging us to work our own gardens, if we have them, in a more sustainable way.
Finally, a shout out to NeighbourFood Falkland. They are part of a nationwide network of markets with the emphasis again, emphatically on goods from local farmers or artisan producers. Their mission statement says clearly that ‘the sale of any large-scale commercially grown vegetables, non-organic imported fruit or veg, genetically modified products, intensively reared meat, imported fish or battery eggs are not permitted to be sold at a NeighbourFood market.’ From what I can see on their website our nearest market would be Falkland and your order has to be collected from there.
It is so easy to get caught up in buzzwords and slogans but these, brave local folk have turned rhetoric into reality and are leading the way – along with PLANT – on a just and green recovery. They eschew exploitive practices and have integrity at the heart of all they do and, as a costumer, I am really glad to be able to shop like this.