A wholefood worker co-operative shop opened in Portsmouth this month following two years of planning by its eight members.
Wild Thyme, which incorporates a juice bar and vegan takeaway, is the only wholefood shop in the Southsea area but it joins an eclectic mix of local independent retailers.
The store, which received a loan from The Co-operative Loan Fund, stocks the widest range of natural foods in Portsmouth, including many specialist vegan, Fairtrade and organic products, alongside daily staples such as fruit and vegetables.
Most products are sourced from other co-ops, small farms and local suppliers. The co-operatives it works with includes suppliers Infinity, Essential and Suma, but it has also received advice from co-op retailers Arjuna and Rice Up, as well business advice from Community Empowerment.
Local delivery will soon be available using a cargo bike loaned by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans.
Since 2013, Wild Thyme has been operating a wholefood takeaway stall at various events around Portsmouth. The members hope the permanent home will become a place for customers to shop and also congregate, spend time, learn new things and try new foods. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to answer questions about food, nutrition and recipes.
Wild Thyme member Frances Vigay commented: “Much of food retail lacks concern for how and where food is grown, and the effect it’s having on people’s health. Ethics are at the core of what we do at Wild Thyme – care and concern for the producers, growers, the environment, as well as the people who will be buying our products and consuming them.
“We want local people to feel empowered about their health and nutrition.”
A loan from The Co-operative Loan Fund was used to refurbish and equip the new shop premises – an old beauty salon on Palmerston Road, Southsea.
Spokesman Ian Rothwell said: “Co-operative & Community Finance has been a passionate supporter of the organic and wholefoods movement for over 40 years. We’re delighted that this sector has seen such rapid growth and a rise in popularity over recent years. Wild Thyme is a brilliant addition to Southsea.”
• Start-up or established co-operative businesses seeking financial support can contact The Co-operative Loan Fund on 01179 166750, or visit www.co-operativeloanfund.coop for more information.