Eggs and lamb from Stroudco’s latest new producer

Weguinea fowl eggs are pleased to welcome yet another new producer to the Stroudco co-operative which now comprises over 700 shopper households and 85 food and drink producers from around the five valleys.  Ben Carter is the newest Stroudco producer and has started small with only two products but with plans to increase his range as sales through the Food Hub increase.

Ben farms 150 acres of land around Woodchester and Uley.  Although his business is too small to be able to afford organic certification, he has met all the very strict animal welfare criteria imposed by Stroudco and the Food Hub’s management group are satisfied that Ben’s meat and eggs are as good as (if not better) than organically certified produce.

Ben is offering lamb boxes containing joints, chops and mince making up half of the lamb carcass.  He is also offering eggs from his flock of guinea fowl which provide a natural form of pest control in his vegetable garden; pecking up all manner of pests without damaging the plants at all.  The eggs are slightly smaller than hen eggs but with a much higher proportion of yolk to white.

Up until recently Ben has only sold direct to the public but he noticed that Stroudco is very  popular with so many local farmers and small-scale producers.  He says “the Food Hub is a great way of making a direct connection with the people who eat my produce without me having to take time away from the business of farming”.

To see the full range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk

 

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I am a new shopper at Stroudco

I’m really delighted by the friendliness of the whole process of collecting delicious locally-grown food from just down the road. It brings me closer to the food I’m eating.

Lucy Lidell

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Stroudco’s local garlic grower is back online

Several of the Stroudco producer members are seasonal.  Paul Hughes has recently returned with fresh garlic for sale again;   “A few weeks ago, I started with scapes – the garlic flower stalks which are great in salads and stir-fries or can be roasted.  I am now also selling wet garlic which is harvested before the bulb and cloves are fully formed.  Wet garlic is milder and sweeter in flavour than dried garlic and can be chopped straight into salads, stir fries or risotto.  It will also jazz up your scrambled eggs nicely!  The great thing about wet garlic is that you can use the whole thing – bulb, stalk and even the leaves.  As the year progresses I will be selling dried garlic and garlic salt”

paul garlic

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Soup made from fresh, local ingredients with no added anything

natures kitcehn soupStroudco is pleased to welcome Lynne Williams as a new producer member and shopper.  Lynne set-up Nature’s Kitchen to provide working people with healthy lunches when she noticed that her daughter Sophie Beard, who had just started a full-time job, was struggling to make lunch to take to work.

She says “I began to provide Sophie with homemade soup, bread and cake, and on the first day a colleague was curious about where she had got her lunch and asked if he could order some the next day.  I sent lunch in for him as well, and it didn’t take long before the whole office had asked to be supplied with my soup and cake lunch.

“I start with top-notch fresh ingredients and make them into soup with no added anything!   I want people to be able to get away from commercially produced foods and find all the health benefits that brings.   Nature’s Kitchen is about LOCAL, it’s about making it easier to make a good decision for lunch and breaking the mid-afternoon slump that supermarket foods create.  I am excited about selling through Stroudco.  I have started with a range of soups including a mushroom soup made with Oyster mushrooms from Fungusloci – another Stroudco producer.  I will be adding other products over time”

For more details about Lynne’s lunch delivery service visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Natures-Kitchen

Natures Kitchen is the latest in a series of 22 local food and drink producers who have joined Stroudco through producer recruitment work supported by a Local Food Grant from Stroud District Council.

To browse the full range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk

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Now selling Oyster mushrooms grown in Merrywalks

doms oyster mushroomsBack in April we reported that Stroud based artist and mushroom enthusiast Dominic Thomas had created Fungusloci, Gloucestershire’s first urban mushroom micro farm where oyster mushrooms are cultivated on waste coffee grounds.  We are now very pleased to announce that the first of Dom’s Oyster mushrooms are available for sale on Stroudco Food Hub.

Fungusloci mushroom farm, located in a previously empty retail until in Merrywalks shopping centre,  is diverting commercial waste from landfill, using coffee grounds collected from local cafes as the growing medium to produce these highly-prized and nutritious Oyster mushrooms.

Dominic collects the coffee grounds from Star Anise cafe by bicycle and trailer.  Star Anise (who recently started selling their croissants through Stroudco) are hoping that Dom’s production will increase to levels where they can buy Oyster mushrooms to serve in the café – neatly closing a loop!

Dom talked me through his growing process in Merrywalks:  Oyster mushroom seed spawn is mixed with the coffee grounds; lime is added to create the right ph balance and the mixture is put in sealed polythene growing bags.  Mixing is done in a ‘Clean room’ where an air filter and fan help avoid contamination by other airborne spores.

The bags are then placed in a ‘Spawn room’ where a steady temperature is maintained. The mushroom mycelium – the vegetative part of the fungus – grows through the substrate after four to six weeks in these controlled conditions.

The growing bags are then moved to the ‘Fruiting space’ where increased light and humidity encourage the formation of mushrooms. Harvesting is a simple case of plucking mushrooms from the rows of bags as they ripen, and boxing them up for distribution.

Each mushroom growing bag will fruit at least twice before the nutrients in the coffee substrate are used up. At this point the coffee grounds have broken down to produce a useful compost and soil conditioner.

As Fungusloci grows Dom is planning to take brewery waste from Stroud Brewery (another Stroudco producer member) and use this as the growing medium for Shitake mushrooms.

Being based in Stroud town centre premises, and collecting of the coffee by bicycle and trailer are both vital to keeping costs and environmental impact to a minimum. The infrastructure for this micro farm has been designed and constructed so that the whole operation can be easily dismantled, moved and reconstructed in different premises. Dom hopes that the unique processes and produce of the farm will stimulate interest in and raise awareness of healthy and sustainable local food production.

Another new Stroudco producer member is Peter Richardson who works partly in IT and partly in gardening – see stroudgardener.co.uk.  He has been providing technical backup with the Stroudco shop software for a few years, but prefers growing plants, and is obsessed with growing food!  He is selling seasonal food plants. During May and early June he has several varieties of tomato plant available, including his own favourite, Sungold – a very sweet and exceptionally tasty orange cherry tomato.   He is also currently selling squash plants (butternut, crown prince and sweet dumpling) and melon and cucumber plants along with his favourite food plant, Red Russian Kale.

To browse the full range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk

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Buy fresh Oyster Mushrooms grown in Stroud town centre on used coffee grounds

See blog entry below for more details.

To place an order go to the Stroudco shop

oyster mushrooms

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Fresh croissants and danish pastries every Saturday at Stroudco Food Hub or delivered to your home

You can now include freshly-baked croissants and Danish pastries in your Stroudco order for every Saturday morning.   These mouth-watering bread treats are hand-made at Star Anise café using a yeast and sourdough recipe which results in a delicious extra taste.  The almond croissants I ordered last weekend were still warm when I picked them up and were flaky and tender, with a melting buttery taste and the slightest sourdough tang.  They didn’t make it home!

jack with bread 2

Café owner Nicholas Allen says “Stroudco works very well for us.  The food hub website closes ordering at midnight on Wednesday and sends us a purchase order for croissants and Danish pasties first thing Thursday morning – which is when we need to start the dough for Saturday’s croissants.  We deliver them up to the school as soon as they come out of the oven and Stroudco sorts them into the food boxes ready for the shoppers to collect or have delivered to their homes.  We are now toying with the idea of having a Star Anise bicycle with a front pannier basket which would hold the croissants as we delivered them to Stroudco and other customers around town.”

Star Anise café was launched in 2004. As an Arts café, it hosts exhibitions by local contemporary artists and has regular events including music, poetry, story-telling and theatre.  It has built up a reputation for specialist coffees, healthy, delicious food and friendly atmosphere. Croissants and bread are baked daily on the premises and the food is made with predominantly local seasonal produce and mostly organic ingredients.  No refined sugar is used in their cooking. The croissant dough is sweetened with Rapadura which is an unrefined evaporated organic cane juice.
The Star Anise cooks trained at the Concord School of Culinary Arts in London, which has its roots in Whole-foods and Macrobiotic cooking, going back to 1975.  The café takes its name from an aromatic spice which has therapeutic properties as a remedy for rheumatism and can be chewed as an aid for digestion.  Recently it has been harvested for its chemical properties used in anti-flu drugs which temporarily led to a shortage in star anise.
To order your croissants or browse the ever-increasing range of local produce available on Stroudco Food Hub or to download a catalogue go to www.stroudco.org.uk

Other Stroudco news is that our new website software is ready for testing.  We have been working on it for two years with an international group of food hub enthusiasts coordinated by the Open Food Foundation in Australia.  Following a pilot in Scotland last year, Stroudco will be the first UK food hub to take on the new Open Food Network software in July.  We have already migrated a sample of Stroudco’s 1200 products into the new system.  Why not have a look at https://staging.openfoodnetwork.org.uk/stroudco/shop and tell us what you think.  We are also looking for volunteers to help test the system before we switch over to the new software.  Please call 01453 840037 or email info@stroudco.org.uk if you can help.

In the long term Open Food Network is designed to make it very easy for new hubs to set up and for shops, veg box providers individual food producers to set themselves up to sell a wide range of produce direct to shoppers.

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