Nature’s Nutrition is an independent health food shop in Mill Street, Bideford, North Devon. The shop closed it’s doors in December because the owners could no longer run the business due to personal circumstances.
A group of the passionate customers have stepped in to save the shop, we’re taking Nature’s Nutrition on as a community owned and run social enterprise. We’re going to grow it into a thriving co-operative social business, serving our community not only as a health food shop, but a community hub, and we’ll be offering support and training for anyone in our community to get involved.
We are currently a group of 16 local people volunteering our time and skills to the project, and we’re open to new members. We’ve been undergoing training in a wide range of skills, including marketing and social media, communication and facilitation, customer service, food hygiene, chocolate making, and accounting. We’re passionate about supporting people to become part of our project in whatever way is accessible to them, and we have been and will continue to support people not in employment, education or training to gain the necessary skills to help them find a place in our project and a route towards employment in the future.
In these challenging economic times the Co-operative enterprise model has been shown to be more sustainable and so, in order to steady the ship and prepare for this transition from social business to fully-fledged co-op, we are asking for your community support.
Our first step was to buy out the current owners, and now we need to grow the business by increasing the product range we sell to meet the needs of our customers.
Our focus is to make healthy and sustainably produced food affordable to our community, and to make our shop a hub of connectivity where people feel welcome and connections are made with and between customers, and also other local businesses.
Dave, one of our group members describes his personal journey, "I suffered a major breakdown about 4 years ago which lead to me losing everything including my home, family and my job. I’ve been on the slow road to recovery since. I began popping into Nature's Nutrition about 2 years ago and I quickly learned that it was a safe place to have a cuppa and be myself with no expectations. With the support from the other regular volunteers and customers I found the confidence to volunteer myself. I am now part of this amazing group of people committed to keeping the shop alive. With the support and friendships I’ve made from the shop – I now have the confidence to face my personal battles head on and know that I CAN and AM useful in a meaningful capacity. I know that the skills I’ve learned and the training I’ve received from Nature's Nutrition will serve me well into my future and can’t thank them enough".
The funds from this campaign will be used to cover the legal and admin costs of transitioning the business to a Community Benefit Society, to buy stock, to undertake training, and to cover our overheads in the interim period.
We'll be investing our profits back into continuing to develop the business, and beyond what we need for this, profits will be used to initiate and support community health and wellbeing projects such as healthy living and cooking workshops.
Support for this campaign now will allow us to consolidate the business and ensure we have an income stream to self-fund our outreach projects in the future.
Check out our pledge rewards under or through the 'Support Project' button, they are all lovingly offered by members and supporters of our Co-op who want to contribute to make this enterprise a success.
The shop closed it's doors on 24th December under the current ownership, so it's now more urgent than ever that we can get everything in place to re-open as soon as possible as a community owned and co-operatively run enterprise for the benefit of the community. We're making good progress with our legal structure becoming registered, once this is done we hope to be able to offer community shares, but in the meantime we need all the help you can give us to reach our crowdfunding target, so please share our story and our page with anyone you can, and thankyou so much for all your pledges.
UPDATE: 5th Jan
This week we've all been busy on co-op matters, on Monday we had group training in Pro-active conflict resolution. This included learning how to see who we are as a group and what skills we all bring, learning to communicate our appreciation for each other, and learning how to talk about difficult issues so that any future conflicts don't escalate, and how to run effective meetings. This was a really enjoyable and fun training session and puts us in a great position to continue working tightly and effectively as a group long into the future.
On Tuesday some of us undertook further training in facilitation. Facilitation means 'making easier' and it's about using tools to make it easier for everybody's voice and opinions to be heard and group decisions to be made effectively. These skills will be really important for us to be able to run a watertight business without compromising our ethics.
We're opening the shop for a coffee morning on Thursday 12th January from 10.30-2.30 so you can pop in for a herbal tea or coffee and a bite to eat, meet some of the team and hear about our plans. Hope to see you there!
We've received news from crowdfunder that we're eligible to be considered for matchfunding if we receive £8000 by the 25th January. So our target is now £16,000! We're doing an ALL OUT PUSH for £8000 by the 25th to be considered for this extra funding and we're asking for your help to get us there!!!
We enjoyed a very busy and convivial coffee morning yesterday, lots of new connections made, the shop was packed, despite the pouring rain, and we even managed to film our crowdfund film which will be ready on Sunday!
The lovely Mireille popped along to our coffee morning to see what we're all about, and she's written some lovely words about it, here they are!
Crowdfunder Fundraising Coffee Morning @Nature's Nutrition Bideford
A lovely group of friendly faces, cheery 'hello!''s and a table piled with gorgeous handmade cakes, cookies and energy ball chocolates greeted me this morning at the Crowdfunder Coffee Morning at Nature's Nutrition, Bideford's health store.
I love this shop and the fact that the people who are involved are so passionate about it. Passionate is an over-used word, but here it's true. The shop is full of amazing, yummy goodness and green household and health products. Interesting finds fill the shelves. (A small disclaimer: I sell handloomed organic towels in there, too. But I sell them there because I love it, not vice versa.)
So I'd come along to find out what the Crowdfunder project and the move towards becoming a co-operative business are all about. The shop has been much missed this month, having temporarily closed for business on Christmas Eve and I was curious as to what their plans for the future are.
Sipping a cup of Sabin's perfect coffee, and postponing eye contact with the table-laden-with-goodies, I chatted with Rose, Pete, Vicky and Pippa – all part of the new team breathing fresh life into Nature's Nutrition as a community benefit society.
They each explained different aspects about how their new co-operative model will be better integrated with and serving the community, and how it will be sustainable as a community-owned business and wellbeing hub.
The key is creating space for more people to be directly and flexibly involved, contributing to and benefiting from the business in different ways, with Crowdfunding donations enabling Nature's Nutrition to reopen after the end of January deadline and begin to work on local social outreach projects.
The current owners, Charlotte and Martin, have already established Nature's Nutrition as one of those shops that is a lot more than "just" a shop. It's a wellbeing hub that has grown right at the heart of creating, supporting and enjoying community life alongside making sustainable living products available to that community.
It's genuinely exciting to see how a group of people are coming together in Bideford to progress Charlotte and Martin's original vision. Staff training in workshops from conflict resolution and accounting to chocolate-making, great community support and the Crowdfunder as extra fuel are all key to getting Nature's Nutrition as a social enterprise off to a flying start.
I was so happy to have made the trek in through town despite the heavy downpour. It was inspiring to meet people who are investing their time and skills to create a really exciting and much-needed community venture. And, I, my partner and kids all agreed the amazing food on the table that I took home tasted and felt even better than it looked.
If you are interested in contributing or developing your skills, there is still time to get involved.
And to contribute to the Nature's Nutrition Crowdfunder project and find out more, please see crowdfunder.co.uk/naturesnutrition-co-operative
Thanks Mireille, lovely words and thanks for coming along
Update: We've been awaiting news to hear if we were selected for matchfunding from Santander. We've now heard that we weren't selected. However! We've just received £1000 from the Just Act Community Fund which has taken us to almost £10,000, and we have 24 hours to go on our crowdfunding campaign to raise as much as we possibly can so we can re-open the shop again as soon as possible. There are still some lovely pledge rewards to buy, such as chocolate brownie selection boxes, meditation experiences, vintage tea parties and more! Thankyou to everyone who has pledged already.