Food co-operative set up to give villagers fresh fruit and veg

Members of the Penshaw Community Centre and East Durham trust launching a food co-op with the help of Gentoo.

Members of the Penshaw Community Centre and East Durham trust launching a food co-op with the help of Gentoo.

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FRESH fruit and vegetables are on the menu in a bid to improve the health of a Wearside community.

A food co-op has been launched in Penshaw to give residents without transport, or those struggling with cash problems, the chance to buy prime produce locally at a reasonable price.

Run by volunteers from the village’s community centre in Wensleydale Avenue, the co-op is open every second Thursday, from 9.30am to 1pm.

The plans have received a big thumbs-up from people living in the area.

Jane Martin, of Penshaw, said: “Anything that promotes healthy eating is a great idea. When you see people stuffing their faces with pasties and cakes it can be quite offputting.”

The co-op has been set up with funds from Gentoo and is supported by the Food Co-op Development Project, which is managed by Peterlee-based East Durham Trust.

Emma Smith-Lane, neighbourhood operations manager with Gentoo added: “It is a fantastic opportunity for residents to access locally-sourced fruit and vegetables and will hopefully encourage residents to lead a healthier lifestyle.

“The Food Co-operative is part of a bigger project to revive community spirit and enhance the lives of the residents living in Penshaw and the surrounding areas.”

Other communities which already take part in the scheme have benefited from free equipment to run the market stall, including a cash register and scales.

It is hoped the Penshaw venture will be as successful as others already run under the scheme.

The co-ops have helped more than 3,500 people benefit from access to locally-grown fresh fruit and vegetables.

Malcolm Fallow, chief executive of East Durham Trust, said: “As well as making a positive contribution to the healthy eating agenda, this initiative has the added bonus of helping a community group to achieve aims of serving their community.”

A community garden is also being set up, with hopes the produce it makes will go on to the sold at the Penshaw stall.

Twitter: @EchoEastDurham