On a recent holiday in Wales, I came across a couple of local community businesses that are both very good at what they do, and perhaps show a way forward for anyone wanting to re-connect with their community, their environment and their food supply.
Both of these businesses are well off the beaten track and so I presume serve a relatively small number of people, although both appeared pretty well used while I was there. If you happen to be passing somewhere near by, why not try and find them!
The Gower Wildflower and Local Produce Centre is hidden away in the back lanes of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. The centre has a lovely wildflower garden with boards naming and describing the flowers, as well as a garden centre, shop and cafe. The garden centre specialises in local wildflower, bog and pond plants and sells compost made from the local bracken. The shop and cafe meanwhile, stock local arts and crafts as well as local cheeses, vegetables, chutneys, veggie pies and other local foods. Salads served in the cafe contain their home grown tomatoes and herbs.
The Brockweir and Hewelsfield Village Shop and Cafe was opened after the general stores in the two villages of Brockweir and Hewelsfield in the Wye Valley closed down, and the local community felt they needed the services of a local place to meet, shop and carry out business. The shop also provides certain postal services and acts as an informal lending library. The upper floor of the building provides IT facillities and training.
The shop and cafe are run by a manager with the help of a string of around 40 volunteers, keeping the business open 7 days a week.
The building itself is also a triumph. As well as being light, airy and a pleasure to use, it has been built and is run with a keen environmental awareness, and is lit and heated with solar and heat pump energy. The shop sells environment-friendly cleaning products and local food. The cafe also makes use of local suppliers and provides a space for local artists to exhibit their work.
I loved the place, and as another new Tesco opens up just round the corner from me, I have to say that I feel just a little bit jealous!