A forced relocation has created a new chapter for Dublin Food Co-operative (DFC), which has bought new premises in the Kilmainham district of the Irish capital and welcomed the move as a catalyst for growth.
The longest running wholesale co-operative in Ireland, DFC had leased its Newmarket premises for 11 years but had to relocate at relatively short notice after being notified that previously shelved plans to tear down the premises for redevelopment were back on.
With financial support from Community Finance Ireland and Donore Credit Union, DFC was able to buy a property in the Kilmainham district of the city. Both organisations supported with fit-out costs and Community Finance Ireland assisted with the property purchase.
DFC also raised €60,000 (£53,250) from its membership during its ‘Help Us Grow’ campaign. Aoife Hammond, DFC’s acting general manager, sees the new premises as the next step in the co-op’s growth. “We’re definitely sad to leave Newmarket, but now that we’ve found a new home we’re looking forward to introducing organic foods and our co-operative ethos to a whole new member base.”
The co-op’s roots lie with a group of friends involved in a campaign to stop the government building a Nuclear Power Station at Carnsore Point, Co. Wexford. In 1983 they formed a buying group to save money by bulk purchasing vegetarian wholefoods and other sustainable living products. Dublin Food Co-operative Society was formally registered in 1991 and now aims to provide members and non-members access to high-quality organic food sources and provide a place of community for people to come together and learn more about food and health.
Patrick Flynn, DFC board chair, said the changes resulted in a “very difficult” time.
“We faced huge pressure to find a new premises quickly in a market with very few suitable properties,” he said. “We were turning over every rock and couldn’t find anything. Then we heard about Kilmainham.”
Sam Toland, DFC co-operative secretary, added: “For the first time in our history we own a property rather than lease, so we anticipate staying in Kilmainham for many years to come. It’s important to remember that ‘community’ isn’t as much a place as it is a culture built and reinforced by people committed to shared values. Our members form the foundation of our co-operative and will always be the roots of our community. As long as we maintain a strong, vibrant membership we will continue to grow, thrive and contribute to building a more sustainable Dublin.”